Follow Concord Animal Hospital’s steps to a safer and smoother introduction
They were your first baby and now—YOU MONSTER—you’re about to rock their world by bringing home a human baby.
Yes, your new addition will bring joy to your home and could one day become a beloved playmate for your pet.
But your cat or dog may not be so sure! To your pet, a baby comes with a startling array of new sites, sounds, smells, routines, and most likely less attention for your dog or cat.
With Katherine and Dr. Stephen Wilson expecting their second child this month, it seemed like a good time to discuss incorporating babies into our pets’ lives!
Follow our 4-point pre-baby checklist
Once you find out that you’re expecting a new baby, you can start the transition for your pet.
Introducing your dog or cat to the baby for the first time
If possible, have a partner or friend bring home something from the hospital that smells like the baby for a pre-introduction before you and the baby head home. When you do bring the baby home, bring your dog outside so the dog meets the baby on neutral territory and you all walk in together.
Once you’re inside, don’t force any interaction! Let your dog or cat come around in their own time if they don’t want to be close in the beginning.
“Our dog and cat seemed mildly terrified of our daughter at first, so they avoided her for several days. Benign avoidance is preferable to making your pet feel threatened or uncomfortable with the baby,” says Katherine.
Once pets do begin to approach and investigate your baby, always supervise the interaction. Don’t assume your pet will be gentle with your baby based on their size, breed, or past behavior. “Babies and children in general are very unpredictable for your pet. You’ll need to be vigilant as your pet navigates this new relationship to ensure the safety of your child and help smooth the transition for you pet,” explains Katherine.
Signs of Trouble? We're here for you and your pet!
Every pet is different in how they respond to a new baby and how long it takes for them to adjust. It can be very hard to know what’s a “normal reaction” for a pet. Not every transition goes smoothly. It’s true that when pets are stressed, anxious, or frightened, they can develop annoying, destructive, and aggressive behaviors.
If you’re concerned your pet is having trouble adapting to life with a baby in the house, make an appointment immediately to talk with one of our vets.
“Your veterinarian can make sure there’s no underlying illness or medical issue that’s causing the behavior,” says Katherine. “Your vet can also offer some additional options for training or suggest other ways you can help your pet manage their new living situation.”
Get more helpful tips for preparing your cat or dog for a new baby from the ASPCA:
Helping your cat prepare
Helping your dog prepare
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