Pets in School: Avoid Kissing the Cat, Dog or Frog


Many educators tout the value of classroom pets or scheduling visits for animals from pet therapy programs to enrich learning experiences in day cares and school classrooms. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises teachers and students to practice safe handling procedures when bringing animals into a classroom or learning situation to avoid risk of illness and disease.


According to the Pets in the Classroom organization, the benefits of engaging students with animals are numerous, including the following:

  • Animals can be used to help students learn math concepts, study health habits, and enhance science instruction through gentle care and observation, as well as be the focus of interesting reading and English study units
  • Animals in the classroom tend to reduce tension and stress
  • Kids with no exposure to animals or nature in their home environment can see, feel, touch and make connections to the wide world of animals
  • Kids learn a sense of responsibility and respect for life by observing and caring for animals, including sensitivity and awareness of the feelings and needs of others—both animals and humans
  • Kids learn that all living things need more than just food and water for survival

However, the CDC cautions that young children may be at risk for illness from contact with animals, since their immune systems still may be developing. In some classrooms, outbreaks of infectious diseases were caused from exposure to contaminated animal products. The CDC offers several guidelines for safe handling of animals in the classroom:

  • Never allow young children to put their hands in animals’ mouths or to kiss a cat, dog, frog or any other animal in the classroom
  • Students should thoroughly wash their hands after each contact with animals, their food or living environment
  • Do not allow animals in areas where human food and drink are prepared, served or consumed
  • Clean and disinfect all areas where animals have been present


Learn more about the benefits and concerns of pets in the classroom:

Tufts Program Pairs Dogs, Students in Reading Program

Students Nurture, Learn From Classroom Pets

Pass on the Classroom Pet

Animals Help Teach Responsibility and Empathy

Caring for Classroom Pets