Pets & Pregnancy: A New Family Dynamic

When you're pregnant, you may be thinking about how your or even your partner's life needs to adjust, but you sometimes forget about your furry friends, and how they're being impacted, too. They innately sense that something's up, and can react in one of two ways: by becoming the ultimate protector, always at your side (well, your belly, actually), acting as if they're fending off any intruders or anyone who might harm you and the baby. My cat Edie was like that, wanting to lie next to me, or even on my belly, and she'd sometimes even lick it, while her sister Izzy was the other extreme—indifferent on a good day, and downright scared or pissed off at my growing bump on other days.

Dogs can have equally strong feelings. Don't be surprised if your pup sniffs your belly and wants to be close to it. Soon guard dog instincts may kick in and man's best friend can even turn against his partner in crime, now favoring mommy and baby-to-be. And if the dog feels you and your bump are at all threatened, watch out! It can bring on an all-out barking or growling assault, or they can even physically barricade you by blocking the entrance to a room you're in so no one else can get in. While your pooch may be aggressive towards others, it's likely that with you he or she could become clingy, even going as far as waiting for you outside of the bathroom.

But if your dog goes the way of my Izzy, it could get stressed out at the impending "guest" in their home. Fido could become anxious and begin over-grooming himself, causing hair loss, or acting out by marking his territory inside the house (never fun).

Even though your dog's mood may have changed, try not to change yours. Keep to business as usual, and try to give your pet as much attention as you always did. If you need help say walking your pooch because you're too pooped from carrying your extra 30 pounds around all day, don't be afraid to ask a friend or relative to step in and help.

Also, as you stock up on baby goods, let your dog or cat sniff the items and get used to the idea that there are changes ahead. Continue this when the baby is born. At the suggestion of my OB, my husband took one of the swaddle blankets our son had been wrapped in at the hospital home to let the cats get used to the baby's scent. Then he sent me the most adorable photos of both cats (even indifferent Izzy!) lying on the blanket and rolling around on it, just like they do when they get a catnip treat. That's when I knew not to worry—we were all going to be one happy family.

For more on how to prep your pooch for baby, read this and this, and this piece on pet safety.

TELL US: Have your pets reacted to your pregnant belly? How so?

Image of cat courtesy of Shutterstock.

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