There is no need to give up your animals when you have children....
Having a pet in the family can:
Provide your child with a ready-made friend
Teach your child to respect other creatures
Educate your child about the natural world
Before the event - Pregnancy
Protect yourselves from toxoplasmosis - a disease that can cause foetal abnormalities - by wearing gloves when you handle cat litter or do the garden. Animal faeces can remain infectious in the soil for up to a year.
It is fine to handle a healthy cat, but avoid contact with a cat that seems sick and
take it to a vet immediately.
Keeping it in the family
Dogs and cats are bound to be curious. Introduce them gently and give them special attention so they know you still care about them too.
Cats are not usually jealous, but are attracted to the warmth of a baby's cot - use a protective net when you put your baby in the garden.
Animals may be wary of unpredictable children and children may be scared of animals, especially dogs. Help them understand each other and be friends.
Warn children not to approach strange animals - they should always ask the owner before they stroke a dog.
Teach them to recognise danger signals such as growling.
Teach them never to disturb animals when eating or sleeping.
Remind them not to carry food infront of an animal.
Tell them not to put their faces close to an animals' face or claws.
Warn them that high-pitched screams or sudden loud noises frighten animals.
Watch out for scratches on your children - it may mean play with your pet is getting too rough.
Never leave your child alone with any animal. However good-natured your pet, if a child is pulling its tail or poking its eye, it may bite or scratch.
Accidents do happen
If your child is bitten, keep calm. If it is just a graze, wash it thoroughly in cold water. Dry it and apply antiseptic cream and a plaster. Check tetanus vaccinations are up to date. For a deeper wound, go to a doctor as soon as you can.
Many animals are brougth to the RSPCA because their owners think their children are allergic to them. But weeks later they may find the allergy is still there and the pet was not the cause after all. If your child has allergic symptoms, find out whether a pet is the casue by:
If the symptoms improve, bring the animal back and see whether the symptoms return.
Make sure your dog or cat is wormed regularly to avoid any risk of exposing your children to toxocara roundworm eggs from their faeces.
Keep your child away from faeces in parks and other public places and clean up after your own animal too.
Keep sandpits under a pet-proof.
Teach your children always to wash their hands, especially before meals after playing with pets or soil.
If you are thinking of adding a pet to your family, make sure you all know what you are taking on. Exotic animals, in particular, require a great deal of commitment because of the expensive specialist care, treatment and conditions they need.