Pets, Pregnancy and Your Newborn

January 27

  • New Mum

Pets, Pregnancy and Your Newborn

Your pets may have had your undivided attention before the arrival of your baby. They may be worried by unusual smells and sounds like crying fr...

By Karen McEwen

3 minute read

Many of us own or have pets of some sort in our life ranging from dogs, cats and rabbits to birds, fish, rodents and reptiles. Our pets are part of our family and we are known as a nation of animal lovers for the care, time and affection we show them. You may be wondering how your pet will react to your pregnancy, how to introduce your newborn baby and if there are any health challenges that may affect you or your baby that are associated with your pet.

Pregnancy

  • Dogs - When you are pregnant your body produces many different hormones. Dogs have an excellent sense of smell and may pick up on the subtle changes your body gives out. They may also notice if you are feeling tired and show this by wanting to spend more time with you.
  • Cats – Cats are very receptive to your body language and may show signs that they know you are pregnant by being more affectionate and sitting with you. If your cat uses a litter tray you might want to consider asking someone else to change the litter or wear gloves and wash your hands well afterwards as cat poo may contain a parasite called toxoplasma gondii. If you catch this, it is usually mild with flu like symptoms, but it can cause health problems for your developing baby particularly if caught for the first time during early pregnancy.
  • Reptiles – You may want to think about wearing gloves when cleaning out your tortoise, lizard or snake as they may pass on a bacterium called salmonella. Salmonella doesn’t often cause harm to your developing baby but may cause you severe vomiting and diarrhoea.
  • Fur and feathers - mice, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils and birds may carry viruses that may affect your developing baby so you may want to ask someone else to handle and care for them during your pregnancy. If you do handle them remember to wash your hands or use a hand sanitiser afterwards.

 Newborn

A new baby brings lots of new unfamiliar equipment for your pet to check out from cots, prams and car seats to breast pumps and noisy toys. You could let your pet have a good look and sniff to familiarise themselves prior to bringing your baby home, so they are not overly inquisitive or see them as a threat. If you have your baby in hospital bring a towel, muslin or clothes that baby has worn home to show your pet. This will help them familiarise themselves and become accustomed to your baby’s smell.

  • Dogs – Try not to let your dog jump up as this may startle your baby or unsettle you by disturbing you when you are breastfeeding. It really goes without saying that it’s not advisable to leave your dog alone with a baby or young child, as even the most perfect pooch that has never shown signs of aggression before may be jealous of your new baby which can lead them to snap or worse.
  • Cats – cats love to snuggle up in warm cosy places like a Moses basket or cot. You may like to consider a cat net as a good investment to cover your pram or cot to keep your baby safe as most cats are inquisitive and curious.
  • Birds, rodents and reptiles – your pets will still require feeding, cleaning and looking after but often caged pets are not as demanding as cats and dogs. You could always consider keeping a bottle of hand sanitizer next to the cage to reduce the risk of spreading diseases and encourage anyone who touches your pets to use it.

Summary

Your pets may have had your undivided attention before the arrival of your baby. They may be worried by unusual smells and sounds like crying from your baby and different noises made by new equipment in their environment. You could always ask someone to settle and change your baby whilst you spend time reassuring your pet, this way everyone gets familiar with having a new baby in the house.