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Healthy Pets

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Prepping Your Pet for Your New Baby

How to help your pet get used to your baby -- starting before your baby is born.

Before Baby Comes continued...

Gradually help your pet get used to the idea that a baby is on the way.

“If all these things start changing suddenly, it's going to be very stressful for the pet,” says registered veterinary technician Nancy Peterson, cat programs manager for the Humane Society of the United States, in Washington D.C. “You want the pet to associate good things with the baby.”

Let your pet get familiar with the baby's room while you're still pregnant, if you plan to allow it in your child's bedroom. Cat owners who don't want their pets jumping into baby's crib can train them with an adhesive deterrent product like Sticky Paws, Peterson says. Netting that covers a crib may also be effective.

When a pet won't be admitted to the baby's room, safety gates or screen doors can allow an animal to see and hear what's going on, which makes it feel less isolated.

“Give dogs time to adjust to baby gates, well in advance of the baby arriving,” Reisner says. “It's useful to get dogs used to being separated at times, always in a comfortable place with a food-based toy/puzzle like a Kong - not in a dark basement or cold garage.”

Create a New Normal

You know that you'll have less time to play with your pet after the baby arrives, so why not get the dog or cat used to the idea early?

“Exercise and general daily schedules should be pre-adjusted before baby comes home,” Reisner says. “Cutting back on time spent with an animal can be eased by doing more quality activities.”

While you're pregnant, bring your new baby stroller on outings when you walk the dog. It may even be helpful to place a baby doll in the seat, Mendiratta says.

“I recommend this for women with a toddler or pet,” she says. “A baby doll can be a surrogate for the baby you'll be bringing home. When you put the baby doll in the bassinet, your dog can't go up and lick it. When you go for walks, your dog can recognize that it won't just be the two of you.”

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