Parents need to take the issue of pets and kids seriously. (Pic: supplied)
Parents need to take the issue of pets and kids seriously. (Pic: supplied)

When did we forget babies and dogs don’t mix?

YOUR dog is not your babysitter.

This fact appears to confuse some people, as evident by those annoying "dog cuddles newborn baby" viral videos.

There are clips all over social media of babies being licked by their slobbering family dog, and they get thousands of likes.

"Cute dog babysitting", for example, has had 30 million views on YouTube. Thirty million! And not one of the commenters suggests it might not be the safest idea to let your dog lick your infant's face, paw at it, sleep with it or even - oh so adorable - try to get the blanket over the child's head.

Never mind that children are the biggest victims of dog bites, and that most of these are by the family pet. No, no, let's not worry about that.

Dog lovers - and I am one - can be crazy when it comes to their canines. There's nothing wrong with seeing your pet as one of the family, as long as you understand they are NOT HUMAN.

So when they're licking your baby, trying to sleep on its face or worse - one video I saw involved a rottweiler cross sitting on the sofa growling at an infant - they're not actually doing this with the skill of a trained child carer, they're more likely thinking about dinner.

Just because it makes a great Instagram post, doesn’t make it safe for your baby. (Pic: Supplied)
Just because it makes a great Instagram post, doesn’t make it safe for your baby. (Pic: Supplied)

I don't find those videos charming at all.

First, small children can startle dogs - even their own pets - and cause them to snap. Secondly, it's horribly unhygienic to let your dog lick your baby's face. Would you wash an immune-compromised newborn in water from the toilet bowl? Well why would you let your dog lick it with their bum-cleaner tongue?

Some 13000 people a year attend hospital with dog bites, according to Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital, with children under five the most at risk.

I was on a children's ward when a young boy was brought into the bed next to us with a dog bite from the family pet. The mother was distraught… for the dog. She spent their whole stay on the phone lamenting the fact she'd been told it had to be put down. On and on she went about the bloody dog, while her son lay there silently.

Just because a family pet is cute doesn’t mean they won’t act out. (Pic: supplied)
Just because a family pet is cute doesn’t mean they won’t act out. (Pic: supplied)

He was lucky: A five-year-old girl was rushed to hospital in Brisbane in July after her Staffordshire bull terrier cross seriously savaged her face. In the UK, a three-week-old boy was mauled to death by his Lakeland terrier cross while his father slept, drunk. He was jailed for child neglect in September.

It followed a similar case in May in the USA, when a three-week-old girl was savaged to death in her bouncy chair by the family's three pitbulls after the mother left the room for a few minutes. She died after seven hours of surgery.

So excuse me if I don't say "aww" at videos of dogs rocking babies in their bouncers.

The RSPCA recommends you never leave a dog and child unsupervised, even if you trust your pet.

"Always keep an eye on your dog's behaviour, if they are showing signs of discomfort or anxiety around your child, remove your child," says Dr Bronwyn Orr, scientific officer. "Continue to supervise interactions with your dog even as your child grows up."

And that doesn't mean from behind a camera.


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