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Having A Baby? Part 2

In Part One of our “Having A Baby?” blog, we discussed the importance of a general wellness check up for your pet with your veterinarian to identify any potential health concerns, make sure that vaccinations are up to date, and that deworming and external parasite preventatives are in place.  We provided some visual examples of dog and cat body language to help you identify when your pet is anxious or potentially becoming aggressive.  We also challenged you to start thinking about what your daily routine will be like once baby comes along; will you still be able to feed and walk your pets at the same time?  Will your pets still be allowed in the same rooms and areas of the house they are currently allowed to be in? If not, you may need to begin slowly implementing changes to their feeding and walking schedules as well as encouraging them to be comfortable in a pet bed or kennel where you may need them to go at certain times when you are busy with baby.   You may underestimate how busy the first couple of weeks can be as new parents, especially when you are not getting a lot of sleep!  You may need to consider options such as doggy daycare, a pet sitter, or a dog walker to make sure that your pets are getting appropriate exercise and additional attention during this very busy time.  Exercise is such an important part of your pet’s not only physical, but also mental well-being.  Appropriate amounts of exercise can also go a long way to helping reduce a pet’s anxiety!

This is also a great time to consider starting to introduce your pet to furniture or sounds that they may encounter once baby comes along.  Perhaps you already have a crib and chair in your nursery? Maybe there is a swing or toy that you plan to have in the family room once baby comes that has flashy lights or plays music.  Allowing your pets to sniff and become acquainted with some of these items and noises/songs that they make can allow them to start to adjust early on.  As veterinarians, we are often asked about playing “baby noises” ahead of time to help your pets become accustomed to baby sounds.  This can be very helpful if done properly and if you are using tracks that have been formatted properly to best suit your pet’s hearing (ie. the sound of a baby crying on a random YouTube track is not likely to work well!)  Seeing how your pet reacts to certain baby noises can also help you determine what their behavior will be like when your real baby actually comes along so you can work at reducing anxiety and correcting any adverse behavior ahead of time.  Have a dog that barks like an alarm when the doorbell is pressed?  How are you planning to deal with this when your baby is trying to nap or you finally just got them to sleep? A consultation with one of our veterinarians can help you explore this further!

Obviously one of the next things to begin thinking about is that actual exciting time when baby decides they are going to arrive!  Especially if this is your first child, there are already many aspects of going into labor that are going to be new and that you may not be prepared for, so the last thing you want to have to worry about during that busy, stressful time is what to do with your pet!  Decide ahead of time what the plan of action will be when you go into labor.  Will you be able to leave your pets at home and have a friend or family member come by to feed and walk them while you are in the hospital? If not, you may need to consider having a boarding facility in mind that could take care of them once the action begins.  If you go into labor in the middle of the night what will your plan be then?  What if you have to stay in the hospital longer than anticipated?  

This article has likely given you a lot of food for thought!  Stay tuned for Part Three where we will discuss the day you bring baby home and some tips for helping to make the first introduction to your pets a safe and successful one!  

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