You may love your little terrier puppy or cute persian kitty like you do your own child, but what if everyone around you tells you that you need to get rid of all pets in the house during your pregnancy? What should you do? Can having pets really be dangerous for pregnancy?
Getting rid of your pets when pregnant is an extreme measure, but the myth has some roots in fact. Unvaccinated pets can be susceptible to hosting certain diseases and bacteria. In the past, there were no vaccines and little medical care for pets, making animals less safe to be around. But now, most pets are very healthy and disease-free from regular veterinary care.
Most healthy pets that receive regular veterinary care, are as safe to have around as people, if not safer.
You might want to however avoid adopting a new pet at this time, especially if you don’t know its health history.
Read on to find out about keeping the following pets while pregnant – cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles.
Pets and pregnancy: Is it safe to keep my cat?
Caring for cats pose a special problem during pregnancy as their poop contains the parasitic infection called toxoplasmosis. This is an infection that can cause birth defects and the litter becomes infectious after one day. So if you have cats, you should either ask someone else to clean the litter for you or take special precautions when doing it yourself.
If you live alone and have to clean the litter yourself, wear gloves and wash your hands after every litter change. Clean the litter everyday as it becomes infectious after a day or so.
It might also be worth having yourself tested for toxoplasmosis. If you’ve had cats for a long time, you might find you’ve already been infected before and are immune already. In that case, you won’t need to take any special care.
Do also keep your pet cat indoors to avoid them possibly eating contaminates. Feed your feline friend only canned or dried commercial cat food. Never give them undercooked or raw meat. Do not bring a new cat into your house that might have been an outdoor cat or might have eaten raw meat.
Another thing to look out for with a pet cat is which rooms they can enter and places they can nap. Cats are great at finding the coziest spot to curl up, and that may well be your baby’s cot.
Pets and pregnancy: What about my dog? Do I need to be worried?
In general you don’t have to be worried about your pooch, but you may need to take some steps to prepare him for the arrival of your little one. Do consider obedience training if your pup has never had it before. This would be a good time for him to learn basic instructions like stop chewing, drop the toy, no jumping, etc. Many obedience training schools offer “baby readiness” classes or individual training sessions to help your dog adjust.
It’s also important to expose your pooch to babies and their extensive array of sounds, smells, and gear. Invite friends with babies over before the arrival of your own, so he can get used to having a little one over. You can also use a baby doll in the weeks before delivery to rock, carry, and push in a stroller to get your dog used to daily baby care.
Don’t suddenly withdraw attention from your pup. It is best to gradually prepare him with changes to come by spending less time with you – so have your partner take him down for his daily walks and the house help to assist with grooming/showers. If there will be a new sleeping arrangement when baby is born, then it’s a smart idea to start him on the new routine during pregnancy itself.
Pets and pregnancy: Can I still keep my pet rodent?
Many peoples have pet mice, gerbils, hamsters and guinea pigs. If you’re pregnant be very careful with them as they may carry a virus called lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV )that can be harmful to you and your baby. LCMV can cause severe birth defects and miscarriage. Pet rodents should be removed from home during pregnancy.
Pets and pregnancy: Exotic pets like reptiles?
Reptiles like lizards, snakes and turtles could carry germs that make people sick. One such germ is salmonellosis. Even if a pet reptile has a negative test for salmonella, it doesn’t mean the animal is not infected. It may mean that the animal was just not “shedding salmonella” on the day it was tested. Pregnant women are at increased risk of getting salmonella infection. If you’re pregnant, remove any pet reptile from your home.
Pets and pregnancy: What about feathered friends?
Upon finding out you are pregnant, you should take the bird to the veterinarian for a health check. Birds can transmit campylobacter, salmonella, chlamydiosis, and some other infections. This can cause miscarriage in early pregnancy or stillbirth in advanced pregnancy. If possible, give someone else the job of cleaning the birdcage while you are pregnant, and be sure to always wash hands after you touch the bird or the cage.
So to conclude, cats, birds and dogs are generally safe, while rodents and reptiles are not. When in doubt, consult your physician or veterinarian.
That said, the joys of having a pet can greatly outweigh any minor risks. They are great at alleviating stress, and can even lower your blood pressure. They are great for cheering you up and chasing away the pregnancy blues. You can think of them as the health benefits of having a cat or dog or bird!