Taking Care Of Pets With A New Baby8 min read
TAKING CARE OF PETS
Before a young couple have children pets are often treated like royalty. They are groomed every couple of weeks and eat the best dog or cat food known to man. They get superb medical care as needed. This often changes once a couple have children. The pets are often relegated to the back seat in family life. This is very easy to understand. Newborn infants take a tremendous amount of time and a tremendous amount of money to do it right. Every parent knows that you are physically drained at the end of the day. How can I take the dog for a walk when I am so exhausted? The fact is that dogs and cats need to be taken care of regardless of whether a child is present or not. It may be rough at first but you will enjoy it when your child and pets are bonded together. Watching them all play in the yard is great. Taking care of pets and kids does take work and personal responsibility. It all starts way at the beginning!
THINGS TO DO WHILE PREGNANT
Once you know you are pregnant it is important to not only prepare for the newborn but also do things to facilitate your pet’s life. There are medical items for your pets that are going to come up when you are: too tired, your feet hurt and you have run out of energy. Better to do these things early on.
- Get your pet neutered- Mother nature works on her own schedule. In this case your delivery date plus when your dogs and cats are capable of sexual reproduction. Taking care of pets means doing these chores while the females are not in heat (if possible) and get the males neutered as soon as possible. Having to deal with a huge litter of puppies when you are taking care of a new infant is a tremendous amount of work. I had a client once that was in that predicament. Someone was babysitting the toddler while she brought her dogs up to my office for vaccination. I asked her for the pet’s vaccination records and she handed me the baby’s vaccination record. I laughed and told her I wouldn’t be able to give her dog a DPT shot!
- Vaccination updates- Most vaccinations for adult animals are good for about a year so get it out of the way so you don’t have to worry about it. You can give vaccines 3 or 4 months earlier if needed. It will not do any harm to the animal. If you can move up the vaccination schedule to make your life easier, go for it.
- Get necessary refills on your pet’s medications- In this situation taking care of pets means thinking ahead about medicines. Make sure you have an adequate supply of flea, tick and heartworm preventative products. If you have a pet that is on lifelong replacement therapy such as insulin or phenobarbital for seizure activity be sure to get the appropriate refill at your veterinarian’s office.
- Prevent toxoplasmosis- Toxoplasmosis is a zoonotic diseaseThis is a disease that is capable of being transmitted to man from animals or vice versa. Many diseases are species specific and cause problems to only ONE species. The dangerous ones are those that can cross species lines. This also encourages the virus or bacteria to mutate.. Without the cat there would be no complete life cycle for the parasite to develop. I have not seen a case in 33 years of practice but it can congenitalA congenital disorder is one that the animal is born with. It is usually inherited from a parent or from a previous generation. Other disorders are called "acquired". That is to say acquired after the animal is born. cases of blindness in infants (chorioretinopathies). As prevention have someone else in the family change the cat litter box. This always makes women happy. If you garden make sure you use garden gloves.
- Plan for the new addition to the family- As I mentioned earlier babies require a tremendous amount of time and energy. Delegate pet responsibilities that need daily attention. Who is going to walk the dogs? Who is going to feed and water the dogs and cats?
- Dogs and cats live by their sense of smell- It is important that while you are in the hospital with your newborn to get its smell accepted by the pets at home. The easiest way to do this is have the new dad take home a used blanket that the baby was wrapped in. Throw it in the middle of the family room. Taking care of pets is a breeze when you know what to do. In a second you will notice your pets coming by to give it a good “sniff”. This helps to acclimate the arrival of the new baby. Sooner rather then later your pets will be looking like this:
TAKING CARE OF YOUR PETS AND BABY AT HOME
After having brought the new infant home for the first time, remember one simple rule that should never be broken. Never, ever leave a infant alone with any pet. Even though you left out a used baby blanket several days earlier do not take any chances. To some animals the new infant is foreign or perceived as a threat. In my years of medical practice I was always told by clients, with a friendly dog on an exam room table, that “Fifi has never bitten anyone in her life”. I retorted that any dog can and will bite under the right circumstances. So just be careful. Never do what I heard a client do once- to get the baby’s scent accepted by their Doberman Pinscher they lowered the baby’s head right to the level of the dog. Do not do that. In time all pets will accept the new baby as a member of “their” family.
Cats have always been the butt of many jokes or old wives tales that get passed from generation to generation. Every time I heard that a cat can “suck the air out of a baby” I just laughed. Totally ridiculous! If you own a cat(s) you will usually find the cat curled up sound asleep in the baby’s crib because the crib is nice and comfy and warm!
In the first few months of having a new infant at home pay extra attention to your dogs and cats. This is very similar when an older sibling discovers a new baby (competitor) in the house. This individual gets jealous of all the attention that the new baby is getting. Every parent goes through this. Dogs and cats can show their displeasure by urinating or defecating in the home. Dogs characteristically “punish” someone by defecating on the bed pillow of the “guilty party”.
Every family unit is different. There are no two pets that are alike like there are no two people that are alike. Taking care of pets under these circumstances is just a part of life. These basic, general tips will keep you and your newborn safe. Veterinarians not only treat animal problems but help to promote public health.