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What pet advice do you have for parents-to-be?
Annie_WebMD_Staff posted:
What advice would you have for the parents-to-be to introduce a new baby into a household that has a pet? If the parents-to-be don't have a pet but are thinking about getting one, would your advice be to go for it or wait?

We had one discussion thread "New BABIES!" a couple of months ago where a pregnant mom-to-be was asking about whether she should get a kitten so her cat would have a playmate because the mom wouldn't have as much time to devote to her existing cat after the baby was born.

I pulled up a couple of WebMD articles about children and pets:

Surprising Advice on Kids and Dogs and
The Best Dog Breed for Families and Children. Also, this video with tips on Bringing Together New Baby and Pets.

When my daughter was born years ago, we already had 2 cats and my cats got along with our daughter, we never had a problem. But I also didn't have a dog back then so I don't have any personal experiences with a dog and young children living together in the same household.

What do you think about bringing a new pet into a household before a baby is born? How would you introduce a new baby to your dog or cat?

I'm sure that parents-to-be here will appreciate your thoughts about this.

In case we have any parents-to-be here, you are also cordially invited to our Pregnancy Communities and our Parenting Communities !

- Annie

There's nothing better than a warm fuzzy hug from your pet!
OliviaV responded:
I thought pets would be great for my 2 year old daughter.and adopted two Siamese cats which was the worst experience ever! If you are considering a pet, make sure you pick one that will match your family's lifestyle.
amr4434 responded:
I appreciate this posting because it perfectly describes my situation. I am approx. 14 weeks pregnant and have two fur babies. The princess of the household is 17.5 years old and is very high maintenance due to her medical conditions. I am not really worried about her and the baby - she will just ignore its existence.

I am concerned about my other pooch. He is a pitt-mix with a very sweet, affectionate, and playful personality. He is definitely a people dog and does well with kids - however he has two worrisome habits:

1. He is like a bull in a china shop. He runs through the house, tries to climb in my lap, loves to play - but due to his weight, this sometimes hurts. I don't know how to keep him calm around the baby.

2. LOVES stuffed toys. This is his all time favorite toy category. If he sees one, he goes into obsessive mode. Nothing stops him until he gets it and rips the stuffing out. You can imagine the problem here.

I am not sure about the best way to approach training. Any advise would be greatly appreciated. I really wish some TV dog trainer would just appear at my door step and tell me exactly what to do.
Bonnie Beaver, BS, DVM, MS responded:
Great topic Annie, and no magic answers here. There are some considerations that should be make, however.

The first is "do I really want to deal with the disruptions of a new pet right now?" Transitions are never easy, whether it is a pet or baby. There is an adjustment time. Is it fair to the new pet to just get adjusted to its new family and then suddenly have a baby to disrupt the schedule again, or vice versa if the pet comes second. This is often an answer the wife will have to make because in most households, she is the one who ends up taking care of both baby and pet.

How safe is the pet/baby from each other? Initially when the baby is relatively confined to a crib/playpen and human arms, safety between the two is not a big issue. When the child gets mobile then it can access the dog/cat and the pet can get to the child, so constant supervision is a MUST.

There are a few health considerations to keep in mind too. During pregnancy, it is ideal if the pregnant woman does not have to be the one cleaning the litter box. Toxoplasmosis is usually gotten from undercooked meat but in rare situations it can be gotten from infected cat feces (litter box or gardening). Dogs and cats can carry intestinal parasites that on rare occasions can infect people too.

If you already have a pet, remember to only allow baby/pet interactions under supervision. Do NOT do the standard photo pose of child propped against the dog/cat. In most of the pictures it is obvious the dog/cat is NOT happy and really wants to get away. That is just asking for a bite/scratch to occur. Instead of banning the dog when the baby is near, make that the time of primary interaction. Talk to the dog, drop tiny food treats too so the dog really wants the child around because that is when good things happen. Then be particularly careful when the baby starts crawling and walking because it can not get to the dog/cat and pull hair or tail, polk eyes, and generally do things the dog doesn't like.

Parents with pets and children have an obligation to protect both the child and pet. Both can bring great joy so if you really like both, I say enjoy them both.
luvmycatsandmydogs replied to Bonnie Beaver, BS, DVM, MS's response:
The biggest thing for new pets is do the research on it first to make sure its the best thing for your household!! I really hate when people just jump in take the animal and later regret it and then it ends up elsewhere. I recently took in a siam mix that is 8yr old his owner dropped him off with his mother who dont like cats and guess where he ended up....the shelter so i rescued him so he wouldnt be put down because that is what would have happened because of his age and so on and its kitten season so the shelter would be over flowing with kittens soon so i took him in to finnish his years here with my family, but more often these kind of animals arent this lucky and dont get to have a happy home i cant stress enough for people to really really really think about the long term not the short term on an animal
twin517 replied to amr4434's response:
was just wondering how you made out with your doggie and his wild behavior and jumping around the baby.. we too have a nnewborn now, and 3 jack russells.. one of which is extremely hyper.. sweet but she whines constantly near the baby and you cannor sit down while holding the baby, because the dog jumps right on top of you... what have you done to calm your doggie?


William Draper, DVM, better known as "Dr. Will," is a well-known small animal practitioner in the Atlanta, GA area. He grew up in Inglewood,...More

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