One of the common reasons we see on our military base pet pages for rehoming pets is a new addition in the form of a human baby. It nearly always seems like a heartbreaking decision, and this article is intended to hopefully help those who really do not want to lose their furry children because a “real” one comes along.
Sometimes situations are beyond our control, but please plan ahead to the best of your ability before making the decision to bring a pet into your home. At Hawaii Military Pets, we believe animals are not a temporary commitment but a forever one.
If you are trying to have a baby or as soon as you find out that you are pregnant, you can begin to prepare yourself and your pet for the new arrival. If you do this ahead of time, you will greatly reduce later stress and the overwhelmed feeling that leads to pets getting rehomed.
Consider only rehoming your pets if you believe it is truly a dangerous situation for your family. And of course, please do it responsibly if you decide it is the best choice for you.
Benefits of Pets with Babies
I recently asked one of our military base pet pages for people to share their experiences with keeping their pet after having a baby. The response was incredible with so many people sharing their success stories.
Many considered their fur babies to be guardians or even siblings to their human children. Some of the dogs even make good “baby monitors” and always alert the parents when they feel something is up with the baby.
FitPregnancy.com even tells us that keeping your pet during and after pregnancy may help to protect your newborn from developing allergies and asthma.
Preparations during Pregnancy
There are tons of things that you can do to prepare your pet for a baby, and the good thing is you have about nine months to work on it! Make sure your pet has visited a veterinarian for their yearly checkup. A healthy pet could cut down on behavioral problems and reduce your stress during the pregnancy.
Ensure your pet has skills in basic training. If they have issues like jumping up on people or refuse to walk on a loose leash, you will want to work on those bad habits as soon as possible. There are many methods of training and professionals that can help you, but our favorite is positive reinforcement training.
Begin adjusting your routine before the baby arrives. This will make the transition less stressful for both your pet and you, rather than a sudden change overnight when the baby comes home from the hospital.
To get your pet used to the idea of having a baby around the house, try playing a CD of baby noises or gently pulling on your pet’s ears and tail as a child would do. Let your pet be a part of the process of putting together baby furniture and setting up the nursery.
If you have friends with babies, you can ask them to help you socialize your animal a little at a time before the permanent baby arrives. You can even use a doll to simulate a real baby.
Bringing the Baby Home
When you first bring the newborn home, do not force interaction between the pet and baby. Allow the pet to explore and come to the baby on their own.
However, never leave the pet alone with the baby unsupervised, even if you trust them. Both need to learn boundaries and how to behave around each other, and they need you to help them!
Many rehoming ads claim that they do not have time for the pet anymore. Plan to take family walks with the baby and the pet, which is where mastering the loose leash training beforehand will be vital.
Also make a conscious effort to schedule a few moments daily for cuddle or play time with the pet. Most really do not need that much, they just want a bit of attention to know that you still love them too!
March of Dimes shares useful information about staying safe around pets during a pregnancy. This does not mean that you cannot have pets at all, but there are some things that you should avoid.
Cats bring a possible risk of toxoplasmosis, which is an infection caused by a parasite. Avoid cleaning the litter box or touching dirt in the garden, but you can also contract toxoplasmosis from eating undercooked meat. You can speak with your doctor about testing for immunity to the infection.
Rodents may carry a virus called LCMV (lymphocytic choriomeningitis). Avoid cleaning the pet’s cage and always wash your hands after contact. You should also keep rodents away from your face during pregnancy.
Reptiles may carry salmonella infection, which is a bacterial disease everyone has probably heard about in association with undercooked food. Ask another family member to care for your lizard, snake, or turtle. Again, always wash your hands after contact.