How you introduce your much-loved pet to a baby is very important for ongoing family harmony and child safety. The animal kingdom includes ‘pack psychology’, which is significant and unlike human behaviour. Your dog sees the family he belongs to as his pack, and in order for him to feel settled and happy he needs to know where he fits in the order of the pack. Your pet needs a leader to prepare him for this new arrangement. As well as this, his assumed territory and personal space is about to be invaded in several ways and his routines disrupted. For many pets, this big lifestyle change can be very disturbing and challenging to deal with on their own.Dogs and cats are the most common family pets that need careful preparation for change but in some families there could be the overly affectionate pony or lamb. An appropriate animal and breed for the environment and family lifestyle is essential.Some pets have never come in contact with bubs or heard them cry so before you bring your newborn home it is a good idea to have your pet become familiar with how these little ones smell, sound and behave. If you don’t have access to any noisy bubs, record some noises from the local shopping centre and play it at home. Playfully tugging on your pet’s ears, tail and paws and rewarding them for good behaviour helps them recognize what bub may do.You pet needs to be familiar with bubs specific smells. Once bub is born but before you arrive home from hospital, ask someone to take a baby blanket or piece of clothing to your home with bubs smell on it. Place it on your pet’s bed and let him sniff and lay on it. This will help your pet understand that bub is a higher order in the pack.When arriving home, first walk through the door without bub in your arms. Make a big fuss as you greet your pet – greeting him in this way will let him know that he is still important to you and that you hadn’t left him for good. Next, carry bub inside while still in the car seat and place it on your pet’s bed. This further demonstrates that bub is higher than he is in the pack order. Let your pet sniff about for a while before taking bub out of the car seat. While holding bub in your arms approach your pet from the side and give him a gentle tummy rub. If either your pet or bub is anxious leave the introductions until they are both calm.Even with a newborn in the home your pet needs and expects affection, attention and routine. Serve his food at the usual spot and time of day. Allow him to sleep where he usually sleeps. Make him feel he is still important and loved by giving him several pats as you walk by and some undivided attention throughout the day. If daily walks have been part of your pets routine, organise a close friend, neighbour or family member to take him for walks until you are feeling up to it. If you had an uncomplicated birth you will enjoy a gentle walk within a few days of being home. If you had a caesarean assisted birth you may need to arrange help for a few weeks.If your pet has been used to being indoors with you, it is best not to start keeping him outdoors. Try to keep things similar to pre-bub. Get him used to new noises and interruptions by giving him food rewards and pat praises for his good behaviour. Newborns often have an unsettled period with increased crying during the late afternoon. Your pet may need to get out for a walk at these times and so may you?The most common victims of dog attacks are on littlies. Attacks commonly occur when little ones approach a dog that is eating, gnawing a bone or sleeping. Therefore, SUPERVISE whenever your pet is near your bub and model correct behaviour. No matter what the breed or temperament, your pet may lash out and bite when provoked. A little one could also be smothered by a pet snuggling up too close. If necessary, attach gates or screen doors where bub is sleeping.Having raised children with a beautiful Labrador dog in the midst for fourteen and a half years, I know the value of everyone getting along. A pet in the home can enhance child development, improve family harmony and increase general health. But for this to happen, it is important that your pet is a suitable breed, treated and trained well. Preparing your pet ahead of time may prevent handing him into the ‘pet shelter’ or giving him away to a friend when things get out of hand. Perhaps in some families the baby may be the preferred choice to give away but clearly this is not the acceptable option.
When summertime arrives it is time for pool parties and days at the beach. It is also the time of the year where many dogs come in contact with backyard pools, beaches, streams, lakes, and ponds. While we all want to have fun playing in the water with our pets, everyone needs to be aware over exertion and the very real danger of pet drowning.It is estimated that thousands of pets die annually from drowning though actual number are not know since most go unreported. Tragedy can be avoided by implementing a few simple safety measures.Rules for the Pool
In addition to your yard being fenced, you should also consider having a fence enclosing your pool. This way your pet can be out in the yard without having access to the pool area.
Take the time to make sure your pet knows how to swim properly. Many inexperienced dogs do not initially use their back legs when they first try to swim. This results in them swimming more vertical than horizontal, and this causes the animal to expend a tremendous amount of energy with lots of splashing.When a dog is comfortable swimming, there should be minimal splashing. The excess splashing can cause over exertion, it makes it difficult for them to see where they are going, and it can cause them to panic, so it is important that they know how to swim properly.If they are splashing while swimming, help them out with a few swimming lessons. Get in the pool with them and support their back-end to encourage them to use of their hind legs. Using a life jacket is also a good way for them to become comfortable while learning to swimming. When using a life jacket always make sure it fits snugly.
The majority of pet pool accidents result from the pet not knowing how to get out of the pool. Teach your pet where the steps are so they know how to get in and out safely. If your pool does not have easy access for your pet, consider a pet safe ladder. There are many products created specifically for pets to aid them in getting in and out of the pool. Do an internet search for “pool ramps for dog” to check out available products.
Never encourage your pet to jump into the pool from the side or from the diving board.
Never allow your pet to climb out of the pool from the side. If you see them trying to do this, gently encourage them over to the steps for a proper exit.
Pets should never be allowed in the pool unattended. Even experienced pets can panic if they accidentally fall in the pool.SENIOR DOGSWhile swimming is great exercise for the senior dog, they are at higher risk of injury around your pool because of physical challenges associated with their age; things like lack of strength & stamina, arthritis, and poor eyesight. You can never be sure when they will tire so it is best to always put your senior dog in a life vest so they can safely enjoy the pool for as long as they like.WATER SAFETY AWAY FROM HOMEIf you are headed for a day at the beach with your pet additional precautions need to be taken into consideration. There is a big difference between swimming in a pool and swimming in moving water at the beach (or in a river). The safest thing for your pet it these situations is to always have your dog wear a life jacket. You can never be sure when the current or undertow could be too much for them.SAFE BOATINGMany boat owners underestimate how heavy a dog actually is when they are leaning over the side of their boat trying to lift their dog up out of the water. Many life jackets do have a handle on the top so you can grab the dog and pull them back onboard, but this is more strenuous than you may think and not very comfortable for the dog. If your like to let your dog swim while you are out boating, look into pet ramp options so you can get them in and out of the water without injury to yourself or the dog. Whenever swimming in open water it is always recommended that your pet wear a life jacket.DON’T OVER DO IT – HEAT STROKE CAN HAPPENSwimming is a great way to play with your dog to burn off excess energy however, heat stroke is often a hidden danger caused by excess play in the sun and water. When possible play in the morning and avoid exertion during the hottest part of the day between 1PM – 4PM.Do you know what the “normal” color of your dog’s gums are? A dog’s gums are normally light-medium pink, but this varies from dog to dog. Check the color of your pet’s gums before you start playing so that you know what they normally look like. If your pet is panting, just do a simple check of their gums. If they are starting to get darker than their normal color, then it is time to take a break and rest in the shade with some cool water.Make sure you give your pet time to rest in-between playing. Dogs can still overheat while swimming. On hot days the water may not be as cool as you may think, and excessive running and swimming can cause your dog to over heat.WHEN TO GO TO THE VETIf your dog is showing signs of heat stroke this is a true emergency and you need to take them immediately to the closest veterinary hospital. Signs of heat stroke include the following:Excessive panting
Dark red gums
Dizziness or disorientation
Staggering – unable to walk properly
Unwilling to get up
Body temperature in excess of 104 degreesWhile en route to the vet apply a cool wet towel to the back of the neck, groin and armpit areas and replace them often. Do not cover the entire body with wet towels since this can trap heat. If you have a fan let it blow over them. Offer the dog cool water but do not force water if they don’t want it. If they want water don’t let them drink large amounts quickly, let them drink but in small amounts. It is important to use cool water and NOT ice water. Using ice on the body or drinking ice water can cause a shock to their system. Gradual cooling is more effective.If your dog ingests enough water that he is nauseated or doesn’t want to eat properly for 24 hours following swimming, you should have him checked out by your vet.CPR is for pets too! Consider enrolling in a pet CPR class to learn how to act quickly to help save your pet’s life should an accident occur. Check with your veterinarian or dog training clubs in your area and they will be able to provide you with information regarding pet CPR classes.