An infant brings many changes to a household, and it's best for your pet if you can make many of these changes during your pregnancy. Cats and dogs are sensitive to routines, and by making changes now, you minimize the chances of your pet resenting the baby when she arrives.
- Assume you will have less time for your pet after baby's born, and decrease the number of hours you spend with your dog or cat in the weeks before you're due.
- Consider whether your pet's walking, exercise, or feeding schedules will change, and adjust them now.
- Evaluate your dog's obedience training. If he doesn't respond to commands such as "Sit," "Stay," "Heel," and "No," can't walk obediently on a leash, has a jumping problem, or exhibits any aggressive behavior, seek professional help.
- If you have a cat, make sure her claws are trimmed regularly.
- If your pet has had little or no contact with children, let him meet other kids such as nieces and nephews. Children can seem very strange creatures to animals. They are loud and fast, erratic and unpredictable -- characteristics that can startle or frighten a cat or dog.
- As you prepare your home for your newborn -- setting up the crib and stocking up on baby powder, lotion, and diapers -- allow your pet to see and smell these so he will get used to their presence.
- Don't allow your pet to climb onto baby's furniture or blankets. Cats, especially, like curling up in the crib or bassinet. If your cat does this, remove her and keep the door to the nursery closed from now on.
- Get a sealed container for soiled diapers. Cats and dogs are very attracted to odors. They just love dirty diapers and will drag them around the house.
- Create a place for the pet that will be off-limits to the baby as well. Pets, too, will have times when they just need to get away from baby or her cries.