For a child, growing up with a pet can be a magical and rewarding experience, but the prospect of bringing home a new baby where you’ve got a pet that’s used to having your undivided attention can be stressful for all concerned.
PDSA Senior Vet, Elaine Pendlebury says: “Children with family pets are reported to be more sociable, more outgoing and take fewer days sick off school.
“But to get the best out of this relationship it’s important to make sure their first experiences are positive. As with everything involving a new arrival – preparation is key.”
To help expectant families, Elaine has put together a handy checklist to help things go smoothly:
Early on, check that your pet’s vaccinations, worming and flea treatments are all up-to-date. Refresh your dog’s understanding of basic commands, such as sit, stay, leave and come back.
If there are any rooms in the house that will become ‘pet free’ when the baby is born, make sure your pet understands this well before the arrival
Similarly, bring your baby’s cots, highchairs and play pens home in advance so your pet can familiarise themselves with the smell of the new equipment
As you are likely to have less time for your pet once the baby comes home, it’s actually best to gradually decrease the amount of fuss you give your pet. A sudden noticeable drop in attention when the baby comes home could be unsettling for them.
Create a private den or safe space that your pet can retreat to if they want to.
It’s nice to buy your dog some new toys before the baby’s due home to make sure they won’t confuse their toys with your baby’s.
When you do bring the baby home, it’s best to have at least one other person with you to help and ideally they should give him a good walk beforehand to work off excess energy.
Never leave a baby unattended with any pet and never allow your pet into the baby’s bedroom.
For more pet care tips log onto www.pdsa.org.uk