Answered by our experts, our parents and our guest fur-baby experts!
Our fur-babies, be they dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits or goldfish are an established and much loved member of our families. Introducing a new member of the family, especially a loud and vocal newborn can upset the balance initially, but there are a few considerations that can really help:
For your baby:
Bonding as a whole new family is a special time, but your newborn’s safety is the no.1 priority cited by all our experts and parents. Never leave your baby unattended with a pet. As much as you love and trust your fur-baby, you just don’t know how they will react to this new, (highly vocal and demanding) member of the family.
We’ve gathered some top-tips from our experts and our parents:
- ‘Check doors close properly, and install stair-gates and room dividers early so that you get used to how they work and can check that excitable dogs can’t jump over them!’ – Sarah mum of toddler and 2 labradors
- ‘I carried a doll around with me for a month before which actually cried! My dog and cats were initially very startled by it, but they soon got used to it and didn’t fuss at all when our real baby arrived’ – Anastasia, mum of 6month old, 2 cats and 1 cavapoo.
- Allergies – answered by our expert, midwife and hypnobirthing instructor, Kate Burgess. Allergies can be a worrying thing for new parents. I have always said that you have to presume that your new baby does not have any allergies to start with instead of the reverse. Particularly with animals. They need to be come into contact with to lots of different microbes for their bodies to make their own new antibodies. We know that breastfed babies are far less likely to develop allergies because of all the amazing antibodies they will be getting from your milk. Some practical things like not letting your dog sleep in your baby’s bed would be a good idea but I know that this can be hard, as your fur-baby knows that something is happening! I think it’s a real watch and wait moment and just be vigilante of any allergy signs (sneezing; itchy, red or watery eyes). Good luck with the rest of your pregnancy and your new life as a family.’
For your fur-baby:
Newborn baby’s are loud, unpredictable and can be quite scary and stressful for your fur-baby to comprehend. We asked Vet Steph Power for her advice on what your fur-baby may experience and top-tips on how to prepare:
“Cat’s and dogs who are very attached to the human (you) may already suffer from separation anxiety. It can be very stressful for them having a new creature (your newborn) in the house that their humans are suddenly 100% occupied with, leaving less attention for them.
There are some great products out there which act as synthetic relaxing pheromones which can reduce stress in your pet. These are Feliway (for Cats), and Adaptil (for Dogs).
For dogs especially, try and keep routines as normal as possible. Most importantly, when you do have a calm moment, try and make a big fuss of your fur-baby and give them lots of love and attention!”
Dog-trainer Alex Smith also suggests:
‘When you find out you’re expecting, use those months before the new arrival to properly train your dog. Invest in obedience training now and it will pay dividends when those commands are second nature to your pet. Basic commands would be Sit, Stay, Leave, Drop and lay down.
Consider establishing boundaries early on. If your dog currently has free rein of the house, start teaching them not to enter the nursery if you’d like to keep that a dog free zone. However also designate a safe space for your dog which they know is a place they can go to relax, perhaps a cosy corner for their dog bed.’