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How to care for pets during pregnancy

Pregnancy can be among the most hopeful and joyous times for any family. For families with pets, there are a few basic precautions you should be observe. Here are some pet tips for pregnant moms.

How to care for pets during pregnancy

Pregnancy can be among the most hopeful and joyous times for any family. For families with pets, there are a few basic precautions you should be observe.

Pregnancy Cautions with Dogs

Changes in attention.Dogs have long been regarded as trusted and beloved pets that adapt as families grow; however, there are still a few basic cautions to take if you are pregnant and have a dog. As your pregnancy progresses, your dog may notice some changes, both in you and your daily routine. Your pet may find it’s no longer the center of attention, as you prepare your home for your baby. During this period, you may want to have other family members spend quality time with your pet. This can help to smooth any emotional distress you dog may be feeling.

Rough physical play.If you’re expecting, you’re probably already cautious of physical hazards, so if your dog is a jumper or enjoys rough physical play, you may want to discourage it from jumping on your belly or from roughhousing to avoid potential injury to yourself or the fetus. If possible, let other family members share in the care of your pet (walking, playing, bathing) during the most sensitive period of your pregnancy.

Brucellosis. An additional caution concerns a condition called brucellosis. Caused by a bacterial infection, brucellosis can be transmitted from animals to humans, including contact with newborn puppies. If you have a dog that delivers a litter while you’re pregnant, minimize contact with the pups, and always wash your hands after handling them to minimize your chances for exposure. Symptoms of brucellosis include fever, chills, sweats, fatigue, muscle aches, headache, and loss of appetite.

Pregnancy Cautions with Cats

Toxoplasmosis. If you’re an expectant mom and have cats, you may be at increased risk for a condition known as toxoplasmosis. Caused by a microscopic parasite called Toxoplasma gondii, toxoplasmosis can be transmitted by eating undercooked meat, by handling cat feces, or by exposure to soil (as when gardening).

If infected, you may experience flu-like symptoms such as swollen lymph nodes, muscle aches, and fatigue. In those with healthy immune systems, however, symptoms may be mild and can easily go unnoticed. In severe cases, toxoplasmosis can damage your vision, brain, and other organs.

The toxoplasma parasite is transmittable from mother to fetus during pregnancy, so vigilance is important. To avoid potential exposure to the toxoplasma parasite:

  • have another family member change the litter pan during your pregnancy

  • do not feed your cat undercooked meat

  • avoid direct contact with soil or turned earth

If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, there are simple blood tests that can detect the presence of the parasite.

Should You Adopt a Pet while Pregnant?

Like starting a family, pet adoption is a serious commitment that requires diligence and responsibility. If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant and want to adopt a pet, there are a few cautions.

  • In most cases, cats are easier than dogs. Cats tend to be known for their aloof, self-sufficient behavior. They don’t require daily walks, extensive training, or regular baths. So, if you’re looking for a more low-impact pet to adopt during your pregnancy, consider a cat.  

  • If you adopt a dog, be sure you have the time and resources to devote to it. Dogs are loving loyal animals but bringing a new dog into your home during a pregnancy can be challenging. Be sure you and your family have adequate time and financial resources to meet your dog’s needs, as well as your own.

  • Adopt a pet that’s well socialized. Brining an unruly or aggressive animal into your home just prior to the arrival of a new baby can be problematic. Be sure that any pet you adopt during this period is well socialized and safe around children.

  • If you have pet allergies, you may want to wait. Caring for an infant is a full-time job, and if you suffer from pet allergies, the introduction of a new animal into the home may aggravate any existing allergies you may have. If you feel like managing your allergy symptoms is already challenging, you may choose to hold off on the adoption.

  • Pets are a great source of unconditional love. On the plus side, adopting a new pet id the love it will offer your entire family. Growing up with pets in the home can be an extremely rewarding experience for a child.

  • A pet can boost your child’s immune system. Another plus is that exposure to animals from a young age can help humans build a robust immune system capable of fighting off most common infections.

Editor’s Note: Dogs give unconditional love and loyalty to their humans. Beyond companionship, there are numerous benefits to owning a dog.

Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.

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