Animal Hospital
Quality Care
Dedicated staff
Conveniently located

Hours of Operation:

Monday: 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m.
Tuesday: 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m.
Wednesday: 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Thursday: 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m.
Friday: 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m.
Saturday: 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
Sunday: Closed

Transitioning a new baby into the household

And baby makes two. Many pet owners (myself included) become pet owners before we start our families. How do our pets feel when we add a child to the family? How do we smoothly transition this new addition into the household?

Although this is not always possible, the best way to help our pets cope is to plan ahead and gradually make changes: schedule changes in our routine, access to the house, changes in play, exercise and attention before bringing the baby home. This will help develop a routine that will meet all of your pet's needs for physical activity, social contact, play and rest.

Many people will want to come over to see the new baby so also try to think ahead of situations that may cause problems, such as barking, excitement with visitors or jumping up on people so the potential problem can be addressed ahead of time. This way either the pet can be put in another room or outside, or an appropriate leash or collar can be purchased and introduced to your pet ahead of time.

Certain adjustments can be made before the baby comes home and the earlier the better. Set up the nursery in advance and decide whether or not your pet will have access to the room. If you are going to allow your pet access to the room, begin by accompanying your pet into the room to get them used to new furniture, odors, etc. in a positive manner (with praise, treats or petting for calm behavior).

Rehearse or practice activities associated with childcare. Consider getting a doll wrapped in a blanket to hold in front of the pet, get recordings of a baby crying, etc. For dogs, some basic commands like "sit-stay" or "go to your place" are helpful in redirecting or refocusing your dog if it becomes anxious. So, start practicing those commands long before the baby comes home from the hospital.

Once the baby is born but before he or she comes home from the hospital is a time where we can get our pet familiar with the smell of a newborn. If possible, bring home some clothing or bedding from the baby for your pet to smell.

Once the baby arrives home from the hospital, try to pay attention to your pet when you are doing things with your newborn so that the pet does not associate the baby with a lack of attention. This also gives us, as parents, a chance to monitor the pet for aggressive or unacceptable behavior (e.g., crawling or walking over the baby). True aggression needs to be intervened with a behavioralist, whereas unacceptable behavior can be intervened with a command.

Lastly, consult with your veterinarian on homeopathic options (pheromone diffusers) or medications for particularly anxious pets. I hope this gives some helpful tips on easing in a new member of the family.

Dr. Kearns has been in practice for 14 years.

Matthew Kearns, DVM