Keep pets in good health
All pets, whether they
are kept indoors or outside, should be in good health, show no evidence of
disease, and be friendly toward children. The following suggestions benefit
your pets and may also help protect young children from both illness and
- Immunize cats and dogs, and use flea-, tick-, and
- Keep pet areas clean. Dispose of all pet
waste immediately. Keep litter boxes away from children.
- Spay or
neuter your pets. It can reduce aggressive behavior.
Train and prepare dogs
you have a dog, train and prepare it for contact with children. Many dogs will
try to dominate children because of their small size. Also, some
children aren't well-behaved around animals. These things put children at
risk for injury. To help prevent such problems with dogs and other pets, you can:1
- Redirect nibbling, pouncing, or
swatting behaviors to toys instead of people.
- Get your pet accustomed to nail trims.
- Closely supervise all
interactions between children and pets.
Pets and newborns
Be especially careful when
bringing a newborn home where a pet has enjoyed "only-child" status. Animals
can become jealous, aggressive, and defensive about trying to protect their
place in the family. Also, newborns don't act, smell, or sound human,
which may confuse pets. The weak, high-pitched cry of newborns may also sound
like prey to animals. Even a very loving, well-behaved pet can quickly
transform into predator mode with a newborn.
Try the following to
prepare your pet for sharing its home with an infant:1
Before the baby is born
- Talk with your veterinarian or pediatrician if the thought of your newborn being around your pet makes you uneasy.
- Slowly reduce the amount of time you spend with
your pet before the baby is born. This will help prevent an abrupt change in
the amount of attention your pet receives.
- If your pet is quite attached to the mother-to-be, have another family member develop a closer relationship with the animal.
- Train your pet to remain calmly on the floor beside you until you invite him or her on your lap.
- If you have friends with infants, ask them to bring their baby to your home. Watch the pet and baby at all times.
- Carry a doll
- Talk to your pet about the baby, using the baby's name if you chose one.
- If possible, play recordings of
baby noises, such as crying. Also turn on items such as baby monitors and
swings periodically to get your pet used to new sounds.
enrolling your pet in obedience school, and practice the techniques you learn.