Posts Tagged ‘pets’

Before Rover meets Junior

Monday, September 28th, 2015

Bella sleepingAs you bring your baby home from the hospital for the first time, you want to keep her safe and healthy around your pet. You may feel anxious about how your pet will respond to your family’s newest addition.

Here are some tips to think about before bringing your baby home.


Before your baby comes home

  • If you are still pregnant, it may be helpful to teach your dog some basic obedience skills, which will help his behavior when your baby comes home. Introduce new rules as needed. If you don’t want your dog on the furniture, or to jump on you when you walk in the door as you hold your baby, introduce that rule now.
  • Your schedule will drastically change once your baby is home and you may not be able to feed or walk your pet when he expects. Try changing your pet’s feeding or walking schedule beforehand. For example, if you regularly feed your pet at 7am sharp, try feeding him at a different time in the morning. Or it may be easier to purchase an automatic feeder which will dispense food at a certain time every day.
  • Take a piece of clothing or a blanket with your baby’s scent on it and put it in your pet’s bed so he can get used to the smell.

Once you and your baby are discharged

  • Have everyone else go in the door first so your pet can express his excitement at seeing people. Then put a leash on him just in case he does not have a good first reaction to your baby.
  • Slowly introduce your pet to your baby. Try holding your baby and allowing your pet to sniff her feet to get her scent.
  • Never leave your pet unsupervised near your baby.
  • Keep your pet out of your baby’s sleeping area to reduce the risk of hair or pet allergens irritating your baby’s airway.
  • Once your baby is old enough to lie outside of her crib, place her on a blanket or mat to keep pet fur and dust from irritating your baby during playtime. Keep your pet away from your baby during floor time.
  • Watch for aggressive behavior from your pet. Get help from an animal behavior expert if you see your pet acting out toward your baby.

Health Benefits

Besides your pet being a loving companion, some research suggests that a baby living in a home with a dog has fewer colds, ear infections and the need for antibiotics in their first year of life than babies raised in pet-free homes. The research suggests that homes with cats may have health benefits for babies too. However, researchers think that dogs provide more exposure to dirt and allergens, which strengthen a baby’s immune system.


Although there may be health benefits, you need to keep the negative health effects in mind, too. Furry pets and even short-haired animals are the most common and powerful causes of allergy symptoms. And cats tend to be more allergenic than dogs. My brother was mildly allergic to our dog, but he loved him so much that my parents did not want to give away our dog. We made sure to brush our dog’s fur often and vacuum frequently to decrease my brother’s exposure to the allergens.

If your child has an allergy to your pet, keep the animal out of her bedroom, sweep, dust and vacuum frequently. You can also fit your forced-air heating or air-conditioning system with a central air cleaner, which will remove a lot of the pet allergens from your home. If you are not sure whether your pet is the cause of your child’s allergy, ask your child’s pediatrician about allergy testing.

Do you have any tips to share? How did it go when you brought your baby home?

Have questions? Text or email us at A Health Education Specialist is available to answer your questions.

Pet safety – salmonella in dog food

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

isa-riding-lolaAt our house, Lola isn’t just our pet. She’s a member of the family and my little girl’s best friend. The two of them get into all sorts of high jinks! Having Lola in our lives has been nothing short of wonderful. But there are still certain things I need to do to keep us all healthy and safe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that a recent outbreak in salmonella infections, especially in young children, was linked to dog food. Salmonella infection is caused by bacteria. It can lead to diarrhea, fever, nausea and stomachache for several days. Some people may even need to get hospital treatment. It’s not that people are eating the dog food. Instead, people are likely getting sick either by touching the spoiled dog food or by playing with a dog that has salmonella infection. The dog food in question was made by Diamond Pet Foods and has been recalled. If you have a pet and are pregnant or have children at home, there are things you can do to stay healthy and safe. One thing you can do is learn more about what kinds of pets and other animals are OK to have in your home. Some pets may be fine to have at home so long as you take certain steps to care for your pets and yourself. Other animals may not be OK to have at home when pregnant or if you have children. Also, be sure everyone washes their hands after handling an animal. Animals can carry bacteria or certain illnesses. Additionally, feed your pet in an area away from the kitchen or where you prepare meals. This helps lessen the chance that any bacteria from your pet’s food can be carried to areas where you make or eat food. Wash your hands after feeding your pet, too. Lastly, keep kids away from your pet’s litter box, food and water bowls. My little girl has always been fascinated with Lola’s dog bowls and I’m not sure why. But several times, I’ve caught her playing with Lola’s food pebbles, to which I immediately grab my little girl and wash her hands. If only I can get her as interested in putting her toys away!

Thinking of a hamster for a gift?

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

pet-hamsterIf your home is small and you don’t have room or are allergic to dogs or cats, many children like hamsters or guinea pigs. Rodents, such as mice, hamsters and guinea pigs, are popular pets in lots of homes. But women who are pregnant or who plan to become pregnant should be very careful with rodents. These animals may carry a virus called lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCMV).

The house mouse, a wild rodent found near and in homes, is the main source of the virus. Pets like hamsters and guinea pigs can become infected with LCMV after being in contact with wild rodents at a breeding facility, pet store or home.

People can get LCMV through contact with a rodent’s urine, blood, saliva, droppings or nesting materials. The infection can also spread when a person breathes in dust or droplets that have LCMV. (Examples: while sweeping up mouse droppings or cleaning out the hamster cage.) Pregnant women who get LCMV can pass it to their unborn baby. LCMV can cause severe birth defects or even loss of pregnancy.

Pregnant moms can lower their chance of getting LCMV by:
– Keeping pet rodents in a separate part of the home
– Asking another family member to care for the pet and clean its cage
– Washing hands with soap and water after handling pet rodents
– Keeping rodent cages clean and free of soiled bedding
– Cleaning the cage in a well-ventilated area or outside
– Keeping pet rodents away from your face
– Avoiding contact with wild rodents

If a house has rats or mice, taking care of the problem quickly with either mouse traps or calling a professional pest control company (talk to your health care provider before using any pest control chemicals in your home) is important.

If you have children, especially under the age of 5:
– Be sure an adult closely watches them when they are around pet rodents.
– No one should kiss pet rodents or hold them close to the face.
– Anyone who plays with the animals or cleans their cages or bedding should wash their hands afterwards.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has more information, including how to safely handle pet rodents and clean cages.   For more information on pets and other animals during pregnancy, click on this link.

Dogs, cats and kids

Monday, June 27th, 2011

Best friendsWorried that having a dog or cat around your baby might predispose her to allergies? Well, worry no more.  Recent studies indicate that the opposite appears to be true. Several studies are showing that children raised with a dog or cat in their first year of life are less likely to develop a pet allergy as they age.

The most recent study in the journal Clinical & Experimental Allergy collected information on 566 boys and girls from birth to age 18. They were particularly interested in the children’s interactions with indoor pets.  At the end of the study, lab results from blood samples taken from the children indicated that kids raised with a cat during their first year of life were half as likely to become allergic to cats as those who were not raised with them.  A lower risk was seen with kids raised from infancy with dogs, too.  Apparently, it’s exposure during that first year of life time period that proved crucial to the sensitization of the children.

So if you are pregnant, concerned about allergies and wondering if you should keep Fluffy or Fido around when your little one comes home, check with your child’s doc, but the answer seems to be yes.  Let your pet become your child’s first friend.

You can read more about pets and other animals during pregnancy on our web site.

Pets during pregnancy

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

lola-2My husband and I had a recent addition to our home. Her name is Lola – a 4-month-old Boston Terrier that we adopted from an animal rescue center. Lola is such a cutie pie! She’s as playful as any other puppy and loves to cuddle when I pick her up. As the first addition to our family, Lola knows she’s the star of the show. But one day, when my husband and I are getting ready to welcome our first baby into the world, Lola will have to make room!

Pets can bring much fun and joy to the household dynamic. But pregnant women and mommies with young kids need to be careful about the kinds of animals they keep in their home and particularly how to handle them. Some things to keep in mind:

• Dogs with bad habits (biting or pouncing) should be broken of these habits before the baby arrives.

• If you have a cat, have someone else change its litter box to avoid getting toxoplasmosis during pregnancy. This infection can cause birth defects or loss of pregnancy.

• Hamsters, guinea pigs and pet mice may carry a virus called lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCMV), which can cause severe birth defects during pregnancy. Keep these pets in a separate part of the home and have someone else feed the pet and clean its cage.

Turtles, reptiles and other exotic pets may carry salmonellosis (salmonella infection). Pregnant women and children under age 5 are at increased risk of this bacterial infection, so it’s best if they stay away from these kinds of animals.

Learn more and get helpful tips about how to handle pets and other animals during pregnancy.

Ferrets, reptiles and fish — Oh, my! Risks for children under the age of 5

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

When we were small, my sisters and I loved playing with Cuddles, our affectionate border collie. She was part of the family, almost another sister. Pets can bring so much into a chid’s life: fun, companionship, responsibility. But sometimes they can put a child’s health at risk.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)  has issued a report cautioning parents about the health risks of “nontraditional pets.” Such pets can spread disease and infection, cause injury, and trigger allergies. AAP encourages parents to take care, especially for children under the age of 5.

AAP’s list of “non-traditional” animals includes some that are fairly common in people’s homes. Examples from the list are aquarium fish, frogs, salamanders, ferrets, rabbits, mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, hedgehogs, turtles, monkeys, snakes, iguanas and alligators.

These animals can spread infections such as ringworm and illnesses that cause diarrhea and fever (like salmonella). Sometimes very serious illnesses are linked to “non-traditional” pets. Examples are plague, inflammation of the brain, and Guillain-Barre syndrome (a nerve disorder).

Talk to your child’s health care povider about the pets you own or are thinking about getting. Learn what you can do to reduce the risk. AAP recognizes that pets provide many benefits for children, but it’s a good idea to take care. Then go back to enjoying your pets and your children.