I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! We have so much to be thankful for in my household at the moment. Including the expectation of another (human) baby due in April! And with a new baby on the way along with the holidays already upon us, I’m going to cut back on my posts. But I will still faithfully have one up every other Tuesday!
Since I have another bun in the oven, I thought I’d share with you some of the precautions I’m taking as a pet owner. While pregnant, the body’s immune system is not as efficient at protecting against bugs and viruses. That means you’re more susceptible to picking up illnesses. If sick, animals will not pass their cold or virus to humans as these are often species-specific. However there are specific zoonotic illnesses that can be passed on to you, even if your pet appears healthy. Animals (including humans!) can be carriers of parasites, funguses, or bacteria without showing any clinical signs. That’s why the following precautions should be taken while you’re pregnant:
1) The cat litter should be cleaned daily, and if possible, by someone other than you. If that isn’t an option, wear gloves and then wash hands thoroughly after coming into contact with any feces. Cats are carriers of Toxoplasma and it’s excreted in their poop. Toxoplasma is a parasite that doesn’t usually affect your cat, but can have detrimental effects on the human fetus. You can get tested before pregnancy to see if you have immunity to Toxoplasma, but the best thing is to just be mindful of the litter box and wash your hands after petting kitty! *(Also, avoid handling sheep while you’re pregnant as they are also carriers of Toxoplasma and Listeria.)
2) Wear gloves when handling reptiles as they are potential carriers of Salmonella (another harmful bacteria to you and baby).
3) The same mindfulness of hygiene holds true when dealing with any animal waste, including dog poop; wear gloves when in contact with urine, feces, and vomit, and wash hands thoroughly afterward to avoid picking up bacteria or parasites, like Toxocara canis (another parasite that can affect your growing baby and children.)
4) Take your pet to the vet for their vaccines and yearly check-up. It’s important to ensure your pets are frequently treated for parasites (at least every two months) while you’re pregnant or if you have small children.
5) Train Fido not to jump up onto your pregnant belly!
These are the basics for you and your safety. But what about Fido and Fluffy? Bringing home a baby can be shocking and stressful for your pets. Loud new noises, smells, and less attention can lead to behavioral and even health issues. Here are some of the things Husband and I did before little A was on the scene to make their transition into a baby-household less stressful;
1) If your fur-baby is going to have new sleeping arrangements, or a change in where they eat, try to gradually introduce these alterations well before your human baby makes an appearance. This way Fluffy won’t associate these changes with baby and her stress won’t be compounded by all the other variations in her routine that inevitably will happen when a newborn arrives.
2) Get your pets used to children, or at least some of the noises they make by playing audio recordings of crying etc. before baby is born. I had Husband bring home a blanket baby A was wrapped in a few days before we came home from the hospital so the animals could begin to smell her and associate their space with her smell.
3) If Fido isn’t trained by now (eg. leash walks, toilet trained, sits and stays on command), consider taking a few classes with him to make everyone’s life easier.
4) And even though we all want to believe that we’ll put aside the same amount of time we spend with them, when baby comes it’s very difficult get as much pet-bonding in as before. Make an effort to still give your pet cuddles and let them know they’re loved, even if it’s just for a few minutes a day.