Nowadays there are many couples who take on their first training in parental responsibility by acquiring a puppy or kitten a few years before they start a family. When the pregnancy becomes known, therefore, an important question often arises " how will our companion react when the baby arrives? "
Clear information to the future parents and their environment should make it possible to manage the change in the existing family structure more calmly, and thus prevent the abandonment of the dog or cat when the baby arrives. They should know that already at the beginning of pregnancy, the dog or cat will smell the hormonal and behavioural changes of the future mother.
Advice for pet owners who wish to start a family can be divided into 3 periods:
1. before the baby is born :
- Let the animal hear baby cries to accustom it to the presence of the baby.
- Clearly forbid him access to the baby's sleeping quarters.
- Teach it not to jump on you unless you give it permission. In this way, you avoid the animal jumping on you when you will have the baby in your arms.
- Look ahead and progressively decrease the attention time you give your dog or cat so that it does not have a brutal separation when the baby arrives. Act as if you are busy with other things (which will soon be the case!) The masters should make the decision when is the moment to play, alley walk or cuddle, etc.....
- If your pet is showing behavioural problems (character, aggressive, fearful, skittish) then it's time to see your vet who will refer you, if necessary, to an animal behaviourist who will help you find balance again. A better balanced animal is more likely to accept the arrival of a newcomer to the family.
- Get into the habit of giving your pet a worming treatment every three months, as accidental transmission of worms from dogs or cats to humans is possible and can cause significant injury.
2. return home with the baby :
- During the stay in the maternity unit, it is advisable to bring the dog or cat a piece of clothing with the baby's scent every day so that the animal can become familiar with the scent. When you return, do not under any circumstances insist that the animal approach the baby. Allow the animal time to get used to the baby according to its rhythm. Let it smell the newborn. The first smelling contacts are very important.
3. the baby grows up :
- Teach your pet the difference between his games and those of your child. They are very similar and your child's will certainly be lying around the living room from time to time.
- Make sure the baby always eats before the dog.
- Be more indifferent to your dog when the baby is not present. Prevent punishing your pet in the presence of the baby.
- Rather, integrate your baby in the pleasant moments with your animal (play, caresses, exits) and continue with the affectionate gestures with your dog or cat, especially when you hold your baby in your arms. In this way, your animal associates the baby with positive actions.
- A dog or cat should never be left alone with a small child.
- Never allow your child to hurt the animal. Teach him to respect the animal. Show him how the animal likes to be touched, what petting it likes best or, on the contrary, what the animal hates ! Be prepared to repeat the same things several times; your child will eventually understand.
Remember that specialists from the animal world and from psychology have often underlined the advantages of keeping an animal in the psychological and social development of the child.
Important: When the arrival of a baby is announced, the future mother generally explores a detection of antibodies against toxoplasmosis, a parasitic disease that can cause serious damage to the central nervous system of the fœtus. The disease can be transmitted through the fecal matter of infected cats. We therefore strongly advise pregnant women who are not immunised against it to avoid cleaning cat litter, or if it is unavoidable, to wear gloves while performing this task. We also recommend washing hands well after each contact.