If you already have a fur baby in your life, you may be wondering what you should be doing differently with your pet now you have a little person on the way. When your new baby arrives the dynamic of your household will, of course, change completely. But in the meantime, there are some important precautions you need to take to keep all of you safe through the pregnancy.
avoiding pet poo
Cat and dog poo contain parasites that cause toxoplasmosis – an infection that can lead to complications in early pregnancy. Thankfully, it's very rare, but ideally, you should ask someone else to deal with the litter tray or park pick-ups. If that’s not possible, wear disposable gloves and wash your hands thoroughly after scooping the poop. If you’re green-fingered, you’ll need to wear gloves when you’re gardening and wash your hands afterwards (just in case a cat has left a little surprise in your rose bed).
While small furries don’t carry the same risk, you may well find their hutch seems extra whiffy when you’re pregnant (don’t you just love that heightened sense of smell?) Changing the bedding or picking up poo might make you feel nauseous – a good excuse to get someone else to take over that particular job.
building good habits
While fleas and worms aren’t dangerous, they aren’t exactly pleasant either, so get into the habit of treating your pet for them regularly. It’s also a good idea to wash your hands after stroking or holding pets, particularly cats. Tone down tug-of-war games, so your pet learns to be gentle, and discourage mouthing and nipping. If you have a dog that pulls, help it to master walkies without tugging on the lead. It’ll make walks a lot easier once baby comes.
caution around livestock
If you keep livestock, such as sheep and goats, there are some extra precautions you’ll need to take now you’re expecting a baby. Coxiella burnetii (a nasty bacteria) can be passed from animals to people and cause Q Fever, which can increase your risk of giving birth prematurely, or having a miscarriage. You’ll need to:
• wear gloves and wash your hands after touching animals • keep away from injured or birthing animals, particularly sheep • cover any cuts or grazes • avoid touching anything that might have come into contact with a pregnant or labouring sheep
getting ready for your baby
It's a good idea to start preparing for baby's homecoming early when you have a pet. If your dog is used to sleeping in your room, move it out long before the baby comes so it doesn’t feel that it's being pushed down the pecking order. If you have a cat, look for a cat net for your carrycot or pram and get used to keeping the cat out of the rooms where your baby will sleep so it’s not tempted to curl up in the cot the moment your back is turned! Best of all, try to create a safe space for your dog or cat, so they have somewhere secure to retreat to when baby's is around or making a racket. A tall cat tree or an indoor kennel is ideal.
There may be a bit of preparation (and a lot of hand washing) involved, but with the right precautions, your fur baby and bundle of joy will soon learn to live together happily.