Pets and pregnancy – is it a walk in the park?
Pets hold a special place in our hearts in the UK – one in 3 homes has a furry lodger. Pregnancy can change the dynamic though so you’ll want to be prepared.
Our most common house pets are cats and dogs, loved for their fluffy cuddliness. However, with the hormonal changes pregnancy brings you may find that your animals are less than enthusiastic about the nightly cuddle on the sofa! Most of the time, cats and dogs become more withdrawn and may choose to spend less time with you than before. You might find that your sofa buddy has found a comfortable home elsewhere in the evenings.
During pregnancy, it is important that pregnant mothers avoid contact with any faeces – especially cat waste (it carries a very dangerous disease called toxoplasmosis.) This can affect your unborn baby’s developing eyes and brain, and can cause severe damage.
It is imperative that whilst you are pregnant, you avoid pet waste, so someone else clears up the cat litter tray – it really isn’t worth the risk to your unborn child. Finally, the excuse you’ve been looking for!
Make sure that your animal’s vaccinations are up to date and that they are flea and worm treated regularly – before, during and after pregnancy.
Your dog’s habits might need adjusting too. It might be best to avoid rough play sessions and jumping up. Dogs are very strong and they could quite easily know an adult over (unintentionally of course.) A fall could be very painful and dangerous when pregnant.
You most likely already have some form of a routine but as your pregnancy progresses you could start to make this a bit more firm. Going for walks at a similar time each day and being fed in a routine can help them feel more secure and less likely to lash out.
Look at an indoor kennel or safe place for your dog to go to when they are feeling a little stressed. The noise that accompanies a new baby, as well as the feeling of their “territory” being invaded by someone else can be big stress factors for them.
Make sure you set some time aside for them. Once your baby is born, you’ll be preoccupied and your dog won’t be get all of your attention! Once baby is in bed for the evening, you could dedicate some time to playing with them, even if you are feeling tired. It is really important to make the effort – they were your baby first, after all. The time spent playing will strengthen your bond and help your dog to cope with the big change to their home life!
With cats, it is slightly different. Whilst it’s a good idea to implement routines (regular feeding times in the morning and evening, for example) cats are a little more independent. If you haven’t already, you could fit a cat flap so that your cat can safely escape when the noise gets too much!
If your cat roams round the house, it would be well worth considering closing the nursery door. This will help them to get used to staying out of certain rooms.
As with dogs, spend some time playing with your cat so they don’t feel too left out – you can get some amazing climbing frames with high platforms that they can sit on and feel safe, whilst being able to observe what is going on around him.
The main thing to remember is that your pets had the house and your attention first! If you work hard to make them feel at ease and still welcome, there’s no reason your baby & pets won’t love each other to bits.
Image credit: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/61/FEMA_-_38417_-_Dogs_at_a_shelter_for_displaced_pets_in_Texas.jpg
Tags: cats, dogs, new baby, pregnancy