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Healthy Pets

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Topic Overview

After the baby is born

  • Before your pet meets your baby, have someone you know take an item with the baby's scent (such as a blanket) to your pet. Have your pet sniff and check out the item before he or she is in the room with your baby.
  • When the baby comes home for the first time, have a friend or relative stay with the baby in a different room while parents reacquaint themselves with the pet.
  • Bring your pet with you to sit next to the baby. Give the animal treats to develop positive associations with the baby.
  • Don't force your pet to be near the baby. This only causes anxiety and increases the chance of injury.
  • Never leave a baby alone with a pet. It only takes a moment for a pet to misbehave and cause a serious injury.
  • Although extra time can be hard to come by when you have a newborn, try to spend some one-on-one time with your pet each day.
  • To help reduce the risk of fur or dander bothering your baby's airways camera.gif, you can keep your pet out of your baby's sleeping area. When you play with your baby on the floor, place your baby on a clean blanket or mat to help keep dust, carpet fibers, fur, and dander away.

Pets and young children

Children will likely encounter pets whether or not they have them in their own home. Teach your children how to approach animals, and set rules. For example:2, 3

  • Don't tease pets.
  • Don't bother pets while they eat, sleep, or are with their babies.
  • Wash your hands after touching pets or pet items.
  • Don't pet unknown dogs or cats.
  • If you have reptiles, amphibians, rodents, ferrets, or baby chicks or ducklings as pets, don't let these pets roam freely. Keep them away from your kitchen or other food-preparation areas. And don't allow your child younger than 5 to be around these animals at all. This can help prevent infection, injury, and allergic reactions.

Also, teach children how to react if they are confronted with an aggressive pet. The following apply specifically to dogs, but some concepts can apply to other household pets:

  • Never scream and run. Stand still, with your hands at your sides. Avoid looking directly into the animal's eyes.
  • Keep avoiding eye contact, and slowly back away after the dog loses interest.
  • If a dog attacks, put an object between you and the animal-a coat, bike, ball, or anything that you happen to have with you.
  • If the dog makes you fall, curl into a ball with your hands over your ears, and stay still. Don't scream or roll around.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 09, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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