Many pet owners worry about how their fur baby will react to a newborn and rightfully so with some of the horror stories that we read about too often.
Although many pets are very tolerant of babies and small children and the two can build a long-lasting mutual friendship if you manage the process effectively, it is however vitally important to be aware of the potential dangers to your baby that having a dog or cat around the house can pose. Here are some things you should bear in mind to make sure that your child is safe and comfortable.
Before your baby arrives
1. If you your dog is not already well trained in terms of obedience, you should do whatever you need to to correct bad behaviour prior to your little one’s arrival. This may involve some additional training from yourself or an canine behaviour expert.
2. Bringing new items of furniture such as carry cots and highchairs into the house before baby arrives will ensure that your animal can get used to the change bit by bit.
3. It is important to remember that expectant mothers should avoid contact with any pet faeces. Mothers-to-be should never clean out litter trays or do any gardening in places where cats may have gone to the loo. This is so as to avoid toxoplasmosis, a dangerous disease which can affect the eyes and brains of unborn babies that can lead to problems later in life.
4. If you walk your dog at a specific time every day, it may be worth changing the routine a little. Having a baby on the scene can make old routines difficult to stick to - breaking that routine a little before your new arrival will prevent your dog associating change with your baby!
After your baby arrives
1. If you have had your pet for a while many, especially dogs, may feel jealous of a new baby when you first bring him/her home. Even though it is obviously important to focus your energies on your baby, also try to give your dog some special attention when you can, so it knows that you still care. It is important to do this as it prevents your pet becoming envious of your child and potentially acting out.
2. Cats are unlikely to get jealous. Having said that they do like to find a good spot to curl up for a sleep! It is always a good idea to use a cat net on the pram or pushchair when it is within reach.
3. Always keep an eye on your child when she or he is playing with your pet. Without meaning to your child may encourage your dog to play rough or accidentally smother your cat who might lash out trying to escape. However gentle your animal is, it is essential to supervise the two playing together. Never leave your baby alone with your pet.
4. Make sure your get your pet regularly wormed and on an anti-flea treatment. Also ensure that you are extra vigilant with basic hygiene, don’t let your pet lick your baby’s face and make sure you wash your hands thoroughly before preparing food.
It is important to remember that, despite your best efforts, it may take time for your pet to get used to having a baby around. Make sure that you never punish your animal for their actions around your baby, only reward them when they do something right.