How can our pets and our new baby live together safely and happily? Share The BabyCentre editorial team Our panel of health writers Many pets are very tolerant of small children, but it's still important to be aware of the potential dangers to your baby.
There are precautions you can take to keep your baby safe, especially once he is crawling and walking.
Use special canine toothpaste, which comes in tasty flavours and does not foam unlike human toothpaste with a special rubber thimble for dogs' teeth. It will also allow the puppy to become less reliant on constant companionship and avoid separation anxiety in the future. Consequently, the inevitable end of the dog bed will be your dog chewing on the fabric and pulling out the stuffing, just as he or she would do with their toys.
While your baby is tiny, you will generally be able to keep him and your pets apart for most of the time. Keep pets out of the room he sleeps in, and never let a pet share a bed with your baby. Always introduce your pets gently to a new baby. Dogs may feel jealous of a new baby when you first bring him home. Try to give your dog some special attention when you can, so it knows you still care about it.
Dogs are also likely to be curious. Bear in mind that your dog may react in a way that you don't expect when your baby arrives. Use a cat net on the pram or pushchair when it is downstairs or in the garden. Dogs always need supervision when babies and children are around. No matter how trustworthy your pet may be, if a toddler is pulling its tail, or poking its eye, it may lose patience.
Cats will often escape if a child is teasing or hurting them, but some will scratch and bite. Without meaning to, your child may encourage your dog to chase and play-bite them. These dog bites tend to be minor, but keep an eye on how your children and pet play together.
Reports of serious dog attacks involving babies and young children receive a lot of media coverage, but such cases are rare in England. You may find it helpful to use a safety gate to keep your pets and your children apart, at least for some of the time.
Stair gates can also help keep your baby away from animal food and litter trays. If you have a garden, it could be fenced so that there is a safe baby area and a separate pet area. If your pet is allowed to use the whole garden, you may need to check it over and use a pooper scooper before letting your child outside. Curious babies have been known to use a cat flap to escape into the garden.
You may need to leave the lock in it while your baby is around. Double check with your vet how often you need to worm your pets. Never leave worming tablets or other pet medications where your baby can reach them.
If you are thinking of getting a pet especially for your child, choose an animal that does not have to live in the house all the time, such as a guinea pig or rabbit. These pets can have cages outside in a sheltered place. Your child can visit them and handle them for short periods of time while under your supervision. When your children are older, and can understand that animals need to be respected, you may want to consider adding a cat or dog to your family.
Read the Dogs Trust factsheet A new baby and the family dog for more tips.
May This article was written using the following sources: Bites, human and animal. Clinical Knowledge Summaries, clinical topic. A new baby and the family dog. Sharing a bed with your baby.
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