Babies and pets: Health benefits and How to Introduce a New Pet
If you have a pet at home but are expecting a baby soon, or are preparing to get pregnant, you might worry if a dog or a cat will be safe around your little one. Often, many pet owners think they have to choose between both, with dogs sadly given away in the end.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way! And if you are keen to have a baby soon but aren’t positive that you want the responsibility of both a baby and a pet in the near future, it’s best to reconsider dedicating yourself to an animal who also needs love and consideration.
Prepare before your baby arrives
A dog takes a while to train, especially if you have owned them for a while and they’ve familiar with their routine. If you’re deciding to keep your pet and have a baby, it’s best to train your dog or cat before the baby arrives. Here are a few things to consider:
· Change behaviours like jumping or barking, as they can be dangerous to a newborn and frightening.
· Teach them about the areas around the home that are off-limits, like the baby’s room, cot or changing area.
· Consider whether the walking schedule will change because of your other priorities with your baby. Start these changes early.
· If there are any issues with toilet training your pet, it’s vital to do this as soon as possible, especially before your baby starts to crawl.
When your baby arrives
Now that you know how to prepare your pet for the arrival of your baby, it’s important to take note of what to expect when your baby is in the presence of your pet.
Most issues with pets and children usually begin when they start crawling and walking. Although pets are quite tolerant around children, it can be a worry, as kids’ movements are unpredictable and can be threatening to a dog.
Tips to keep your child safe around your pet:
· Although you love and trust your pet, you never know how it will react to a baby. Don’t leave your pet and baby alone together, especially children under the age of 7 – when they’re most vulnerable.
· Even when your baby is born, continue to monitor your pet’s behaviour. If you notice anything odd or different about your pet around your baby, address it as soon as possible – particularly if your dog barks, growls or cries.
· Keep pet food away from your child
· Seek help from a local vet about any further behavioural issues
Risks of having an indoor pet with your baby
Cats usually aren’t jealous animals and will do their own thing, especially because they’re lone rangers. But, a dog is like a baby and will crave attention. However, if you have a dog or cat, there are still risks to consider:
· Cats can scratch if they’re unhappy about something, or as a playful signal. It could be a better idea to keep your cat outside (in a closed off area so it doesn’t roam) instead of inside, especially because they jump on benches and are more likely to spray around the house.
· A cat can create a health hazard for you and your child if they urinate indoors or on your child’s toys.
· A cat can contract a known parasite called Toxoplasmosis if they’re free to hunt and roam. Toxoplasmosis is one of the most common human infections in the world.
· Dogs can also get too excited, which can see them jump quickly and scratch as well. Many adult pet owners report that they’ve even been concussed by their own dogs out of mere excitement.
Pros of having both a pet and baby
Although it’s easy to initially think about the dangers of having pets around a baby, it’s also important to remember the pros of having both. If you’re super close to your pet but are worried about how it will work with your baby, don’t feel like you have to choose between the two.
A lot of parents feel like they have to protect their child from every little bit of dirt, but research suggests that having a pet is actually healthier for your child.
· The presence of dogs and cats during childhood helps young kids stay healthier, preventing them from developing allergies as adults.
· Research says that this may be because of the exposure of bacteria carried by both cats and dogs that helps train the human immune system.
· Research found that kids in homes with dogs had fewer respiratory tract infections compared to kids in pet-free homes.
· Dirt brought in by dogs is said to actually be a great health benefit.
· Dogs and cats are known to have wonderful and positive effects on mental health and happiness.
· Dogs are a good excuse to go outside for the day – even with a baby in the pram. Going for a walk with both your dog and your baby is a nice way to get some sunshine and exercise.
Overall, it’s possible to have both a pet and a baby at the same time, even if other parents say it’s impossible. If you’re worried about whether your dog will adapt to the arrival of your bub, start early and train your pooch into a new routine.
However, if you’re expecting a baby soon and are considering purchasing a puppy, you might want to reconsider. The incredible responsibility of training a new puppy and looking after a crying and demanding toddler can be overwhelming. If health is your main concern, it’s rare to get sick from pets, even when a baby’s immune system isn’t as strong in the beginning. If you’d like further information about pets around children, it’s best to seek expert advice from a veterinarian.