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Pets and Babies

Things to Consider

Pets are strange sometimes. To many people, pets are their children. Some people dress them up. Some people carry them around with them wherever they go. Some people have endless photoshoots with their pets commemorating their lives. And some people go to extremes that I can't even bring to mind at the moment.

People foster strange relationships with their pets. Sometimes it is because they are lonely and their pets are all that they have. Sometimes it is because they get along better with pets than they do with people. Sometimes it's because they've made the decision not to have a family and therefore their pets are their children. And sometimes it's because they've already moved well past that milestone in their life so their pets fill the void left by children that are grown up and gone.

Whatever your reason for owning a pet and loving a pet, there is no right or wrong answer. But pets can be strange when you introduce children into their lives. This is especially true for pets who already have some years behind them.

Many people suggest that if you are bringing a new child home, it is best to be cautious with a pet about. This is wise advice. Pets are unpredictable and we don't always have them as figured out as we would like to think.

Some people go as far as to suggest having a pet free home or insisting on only having puppies or kittens around infants. Therefore, the child can grow up with the pet.

I can understand the logic of that line of thinking, but don't go sending your dog or cat out to the street just yet. Most pets do just fine with the adjustment to new family members. It is important to take the transition slowly, though. And it is important to be aware of the pet and their behaviour throughout the process.

So What To Do...

There is no universal solution to this situation. For the most part, pets take well to new members of the family if you take the time to transition them properly.

Most dogs welcome a new member as someone else to play with, love, and protect. Most cats are fairly indifferent to the whole situation, although they may be mildly curious as to what is making noise or getting more attention than them.

The best suggestion is to reward good behaviour from your pets and punish bad behaviour. And always keep an eye on your pets when they are around your new addition. Caution is the best approach. 

So plan for your pets needs as much as you are planning for your baby's needs and you should be fine. 

Prepare Your Home

Ensure that you prepare your pets before your new family member arrives for their arrival.

Dogs can react adversely to certain smells or sounds, so gradually introduce these into the household, if possible.

Cats may react poorly to the change in environment when you set up a nursery. Some cats may scratch new furniture or urinate on items. Make sure to restrict that cat's access to areas where they are not allowed, and ensure they have full access to their litter boxes or outside. 

Size Doesn't Matter

This is one of those unique situations where the size of the pet is almost irrelevant. Newborns are fragile and you are responsible for ensuring that they are safe.

You bring home a newborn and even your housecat can be a risk to him/her depending on the situation. Cats can lay on top of babies thinking that it is a good place to curl up as babies are often warm and laying in soft beds.

Dogs can attack babies unprovoked, simply because they are not accustomed to the new presence in their home.

Most people are only worried about the big pets, the Great Danes and St. Bernards, but babies are fragile and pets are unpredictable and can get jealous easily.

Routine is Important

Many new parents indicate a change in their relationship with their pets after a new family member arrives. Perhaps you used to walk your dog every morning and night. Perhaps you used to go for that morning jog or go to the dog park. Maybe your cat would cuddle with you while you watched TV or did work.

Many new parents report that they no longer have as much time to spend with their pets as they did before they had a baby around. This is understandable as babies need a lot of care and attention. However, pets will notice this change and react accordingly.

It is important to try and develop a new routine that will be beneficial to everyone in your new family. 

So What To Do...

There is no universal solution to this situation. For the most part, pets take well to new members of the family if you take the time to transition them properly.

Most dogs welcome a new member as someone else to play with, love, and protect. Most cats are fairly indifferent to the whole situation, although they may be mildly curious as to what is making noise or getting more attention than them.

The best suggestion is to reward good behaviour from your pets and punish bad behaviour. And always keep an eye on your pets when they are around your new addition. Caution is the best approach.

So plan for your pets needs as much as you are planning for your baby's needs and you should be fine. 

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