Are you sure it's safe for your pet to be around your baby?

Parents and Baby Petting Dog on Bed
Credit: Romanova Anna/Shutterstock

Many of the rules about pets and babies seem like simple common sense, but mistakes happen all too often. Here are guidelines for a safe and healthy relationship:

1. Don't forget to take your pet to the veterinarian for a complete checkup. Remember that a healthy pet is a safer pet. Have yours dewormed and vaccinated. A grooming, nail trim, and flea bath are also good ideas.

2. Don't forget to feed your pet well. It's important to keep your pet healthy when they are around your baby, and this starts with his diet. Look for a reputable food brand that tracks the sourcing of its ingredients and conducts its own onsite quality checks, like Purina.

3. Don't have your pet around when company visits. All the commotion caused by visiting grandparents, friends, and other people can overexcite the pet, which in turn may make him jumpy around baby. Keep all contact between your pet and your child calm and controlled.

4. Don't allow pet and baby to sleep in the same room unattended. You should supervise your baby's interaction with your pet at all times.

5. Don't allow your pet on the couch while you are holding baby. This makes dogs bigger and taller in relation to your infant and may encourage aggression.

6. Don't assume that a muzzle will solve all your safety problems. Though your dog can't bite while muzzled, he can still swat your little one with his paw, for instance, if they don't get along.

7. Don't try to force a relationship between your pet and your child. If they prefer to ignore each other, that's fine.

8. Don't forget to prepare and watch with second babies. Even if everything went well the first time around, your pet will be older now, possibly arthritic or sick. And you will have even less time to spend with him, which can make him resentful.

9. Don't assume that you can skip normal safety precautions. Just because your pet is a breed that has a reputation for being "good with kids" doesn't mean that precautions can be ignored. An animal's training and individual temperament are more important than its breed.