The litter box
Changing the litter box is a no-no when you’re pregnant. That’s because cat feces can carry a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, an infection that can be spread to humans. Toxoplasmosis is extra-scary during pregnancy because it can cross the placenta and harm your unborn baby. So while you’re expecting, leave any kitty poop cleaning to your partner.
Fur and dander
If you’re an animal lover who happens to have allergies, you’ll want to talk over with your doctor what allergy medicines you can and shouldn’t take during pregnancy. There’s no way of knowing whether baby will be allergic to your pet, but what’s cool to know is that some studies have suggested that children who grow up with pets are less likely to have allergies to them. But never say never. If you suspect baby has allergies to your pet, it’s worth a mention to her pediatrician.
Weird parasites and scary viruses
Hamsters, guinea pigs and mice can carry a virus called lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCMV), an infection that can cause severe birth defects and miscarriage. So if you’ve got a rodent at home, avoid cleaning its cage, and by all means, don’t touch its saliva, urine, blood or droppings. Some moms-to-be put cages in a guest room or somewhere else they don’t spend much time in while they’re expecting.
As for snakes, lizards, turtles and other exotic pets, you want to be concerned with germs like salmonella, which they can carry. Try to avoid your reptile (your partner can clean up!), and if you do touch it, make a point to wash your hands thoroughly afterward. Also, clean any surfaces it’s been in contact with.
Overall, dogs don’t pose much of a risk to pregnant women. In fact, many of our friends swear their dogs were extra-affectionate with them. But don’t dismiss the fact that dogs and some other animals can act pretty unpredictably—you don’t want to risk injury to your belly if Fido gets really excited while playing and jumps on you. If your dog is a jumper—especially if he’s particularly big—it might be time to take him to a training course and focus on trying to get him to stop.
Bites and scratches
Actually, training is also a good idea if your dog has any other bad behaviors, even if they seem minor now. That’s because babies are possibly even more unpredictable than animals. They can pull your pup’s hair or tail, grab him or startle him pretty easily. And if your pooch sometimes acts out in anger or fear, it’s super-important to get him in line before baby arrives. Talk to a dog trainer about how to break any scratching, biting or pouncing habits ASAP.
Once baby comes along, make it a point not to ever leave your pets alone in a room with baby. Also, try some of these tactics to prep your pet for baby’s arrival.