For some families, helping a pet make the transition when baby arrives isn’t easy. Pets are creatures of habit, so anything that upsets their routine can be distressing to them. A dog may startle and snap at a baby or jump on his owner while she has a child in her arms. Cats have been known to mark their territory in the baby’s nursery. The following hints are here to prepare you and your animal friends for your new baby’s arrival:
Mothers-to-be, remember to avoid contact with any feces. Expectant mothers should never clean out litter trays or do any gardening in places where cats may have gone to the loo. This is to avoid a dangerous disease called toxoplasmosis, which affects the eyes and brains of unborn babies, leading to problems later in life.
Things to Do Before the Baby is Born
* Set up the baby’s nursery early.
* Put double-sided tape on the mattress to keep the cats out of crib.
* Bring a blanket home from the hospital for your pet so your pet can get used to your baby’s scent.
* Give your pet lots of attention once the baby arrives.
* When your child is in the same room, play with your pet a little more, give him a few treats, etc. Make sure he knows that he is still loved as much as he always was.
* Try not to drastically reduce the attention you’ve been giving your pet, or you will start causing negative associations with the baby. You want your pet to think, “This baby is the greatest thing in the world.”
* Update all vaccinations for both your dogs and cats.
* Take your pets in for a check up with your vet for internal parasites, including roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, tapeworms, and heartworms.
* Stock up on plenty of heartworm prevention and flea preparations. Ask your vet about the one month, three month, or six month supply of heartworm preventatives (dogs) and flea control products (dogs and cats). It will save you a trip and it’s cost effective.
* Begin introducing your pet to the idea that a change is coming. Introduce the nursery to the pet. Expose pet to “baby” smells, like baby lotion and powder.
* Try practicing with a doll. Give the doll your undivided attention. See what kind of reaction you get out of your pet.
* Ask family or friends if they have noticed any particular changes in your pet’s attitude.
* Bring other babies and toddlers around so your pet can get some experience with them.
* Play the sounds of a baby crying, gurgling and cooing.
* OBEDIENCE TRAIN YOUR PET before the baby arrives!!! If there are behaviors that your pet does now that you do not want your pet to do when your baby arrives, like sleep with you, jump up on you, etc., start correcting those behaviors now.
* Now is the time to decide if you want an inside or outside pet.
When Your Baby Comes Home
Welcoming a new baby is exciting for your family. Make sure that you give your pet a lot of extra attention, because the main focus will be on you and the newest member of the family. You don’t want your pet to feel left out and unloved and unappreciated.
Expect a lot of company in and out of your house the first couple of weeks. You will naturally be somewhat distracted, so don’t forget to pay attention to your pets as well.
There is a possibility that your pet will be eager to greet you and jump on you when you first entering your home, so let another person hold the baby when you return from the hospital. Have that person take the baby into another room. Give your pet a some welcome-home attention and a few treats to settle him down.
Bring the baby blanket over that you had been using to familiarize him with the new smell of the baby, and bring your pets with you to sit next to you and the baby. Don’t forget to reward your pet with treats for good behavior. Always supervise any interaction with your pet and your baby.
* Pay close attention and watch for protective signs from your pet; he may begin guarding his food and water bowls and toys. Your pet may get aggressive when a crawling baby enters his territory.
* Never leave your pet alone with a baby.
* Pets to be cautious of are all exotic pets, especially ferrets and reptiles.
Cats in the Cradle
“According to an old wives’ tale, a jealous cat will ‘steal a baby’s breath’ if given half a chance. No one knows exactly how a cat might manage this feat, but that mystery hasn’t stopped the superstition from surviving to the present day.” Victoria L. Voith, D.V.M. School of Veterinary Medicine University of Pennsylvania http://www.cah.com/dr_library/babiepts.html
Julie WAU CO