Babies and Pets…What to Expect When You Are Expecting From A Carmel Animal Hospital


My wife and I are blessed to be expecting our second child this upcoming Spring.  Many of my friends who are pregnant often ask me:  “What should I do to make sure my pets do well with the new baby?  While most pets easily acclimate to the arrival a new baby, there are a few things every parent should keep in mind.  You probably won’t have time after the baby comes, so do these BEFORE the baby is born.

Most parents’ concerns relate to avoiding potential aggression.  Although this is more likely during the toddler to young adult stage, steps can be taken now to help prevent future problems.  We must also address potential behavior problems such as house-soiling, destructiveness, and anxiety that can develop due to the changes in the home environment that occur with a newborn child.  These environmental changes are more stressful for cats.  With 9 months or so, you should setup the nursery prior to the baby’s arrival.  Some pets will urinate on new furniture when it is first installed, so make sure to supervise the first few visits in the new nursery.  For cats, allow your cat time to smell and rub their face on all the new objects.  Once your cat has investigated and rubbed the furniture with his/her face, urine spray marking is much less likely.  For cats that try to sleep in the crib, line the crib and any rails that could be walked on with aluminum foil.  Cats generally avoid walking on this due to the scary sound it makes and can be removed once the baby arrives.  Also try to adjust any other changes to the cat’s areas for feeding, sleeping, playing, and elimination before the baby comes home.  You can avoid a trip to your Carmel animal hospital by following this steps.

For dogs, acclimate them to the changes in schedule, housing, play, and attention that you anticipate once the baby comes home.  Get your dog used to walking with the new stroller.  Basic obedience commands such as come, sit, down, stay, drop-it, etc… should all be reviewed.  Practice these everyday and in different situations and locations to make sure they listen to you no matter the circumstances.

Acclimate your pet to being handled the way an off-balance toddler learning to walk might.  Play with their ears, grab their feet and pull on them, lay on top of them and give them a hug, play with their tail, etc…  Make this handling a pleasant experience by associating it with their favorite reward (whether it is catnip, tuna, peanut butter, bone, or ball).  Make sure you can take their food bowl away and a high value object like a bone or ball away without aggression.

Pets that have shown some aggression or possessiveness, need a little more work.  You can also socialize them to some of the sights, sounds, and smells associated with babies by carrying a swaddled doll, going through the motions of changing a diaper, playing sounds of babies crying and  toddlers screaming at the top of their lungs, etc…  Going around actual children for socialization should be done with caution.  If you are at all worried about aggression, purchase a basket muzzle to avoid any disasters.  These allow dogs to pant, smell, and most importantly still take treats.  You can give the neighborhood kids treats to give your dog when they meet.

It breaks my heart when people call me at my Carmel animal hospital to give up or euthanize their pets for problems that are preventable.  So take part of that nesting instinct and direct it toward your pet.

For more information on our Caring Hands Compassionate Hearts, click on the link to Carmel Animal Hospital.

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