Interview with Dr. Jessica Bhatia of Bespoke Veterinary Services
Q: What is the best way to prepare a dog for life with a newborn before they arrive?
A: If you do want your dog to be in the nursery, get your dog accommodated with the furniture and area. If you don’t want your dog in the nursery, gate the area off and let your dog know that’s an area that is off limits. You can get the dog a cd with a crying noise to get them used to hearing that. Have a safe haven for your dog, somewhere that is comfortable – well before baby comes. Give treats when they go there.
Q: What is the best way to prep a cat for life with a newborn before they arrive?
A: Make sure they know not to go inside cribs. You can do this by putting sticky tape or some sign that area is off limits to them. Shock pads work too (it buzzes them when they walk over the pad). Also, make sure there are enough litter boxes in the house so they don’t feel tempted going anywhere near the baby. Keep it as calm as possible for cat. Bring dog to vet before baby gets home to make sure they are 100% healthy.
Q: How should you introduce the baby scent to your pet?
A: At the hospital where you’re giving birth, they will give you the baby blankets that they swaddle the baby with once they’re born. Make dad, or whoever is going home first, bring the blanket to your dog and put it on their bed to familiarize the scent. You can even talk to the dog about it, have the dog sit with your belly. It sounds crazy but they can hear and smell better than humans and truly know when their owner is pregnant.
Q: What to do the moment you introduce the pet to your baby?
A: You’ll most likely have the baby in a carrier, have your partner carry in the baby. Whoever the primary care taker is for the dog must go to the dog and greet them in a calm manner.
Q: How to keep attention on your dog once the baby comes home?
A: Try not to change your pet’s situation once baby comes. Treat them the same. If you want your dog to stop sleeping with you once the baby comes, do it long before baby comes. Do walks the same, feeding the same and if you personally cannot do it, get someone else to. Plan ahead of time to make sure everything remains the same to ensure a calm situation Studies show that having a pet around a new born actually boosts their immune system and makes them less vulnerable to sickness, asthma, etc