September 20, 2023 Pets and Family

Does Your Baby or Toddler Pose a Risk to Your Pet?

A baby with a dog

Does Your Baby or Toddler Pose a Risk to Your Pet?

Many of my readers might be surprised by the title of this blogpost. Usually, the question is posed in reverse, i.e. “Does my pet pose a risk to my baby?” True, pets do pose some risks to children, but the benefits of pets in teaching responsibility to children, providing companionship and preventing allergies are well known. In most cases, you can mitigate the risks to children from cats and dog bites.

So, in today’s blogpost, I will focus on the flipside of this question and discuss the risks your baby or toddler poses to your pets and how to make your child-friendly household pet-friendly as well.

Baby Food Fallout Can Be Harmful for Pets

Raisins and grapes are popular finger foods for toddlers. One of my canine patients loved strollers, not because she loved children, but because she associated the stroller with “food fallout.” During one walk in the park, she followed a toddler in a stroller and ate every raisin that dropped to the ground. These stroller snacks landed my patient in the hospital overnight on intravenous fluids, because raisins and grapes can cause acute kidney injury in dogs. Beyond the specific toxicity of raisins and grapes, fallout from the highchair can cause upset tummies and weight gain due to an increase in calorie intake.

X-ray of a pacifier inside a dog’s stomach

Hazardous Baby Supplies for Pets

The x-ray above shows a baby pacifier lodged in the intestine of a dog. AMC surgeons successfully removed the pacifier, and the dog is recovering well at home. Wipes and diapers are also attractive to some dogs, and I’m sure there are veterinary surgeons who have removed these items stuck inside a dog. Baby gates can help prevent your pet’s access to unintended chew toys, however they also prevent access to their favorite resting places and people. This brings me to the emotional challenge of babies and pets, sibling rivalry.

Sibling Rivalry Between Babies and Pets

A new baby in the family presents emotional challenges for pets. The pet is no longer the top caregiving priority for the family. To keep the baby safe, the pet may be separated from their favorite family member or area of the home. The change in household routine can be upsetting to the pet, and they may act out, forget to use the litter pan or exhibit attention getting behaviors. To prevent sibling rivalry from getting out of hand, be sure to spend some quality time with your pet, but without the baby. Make sure your pet gets treats and playtime when the baby is around to help them learn the baby is a good thing.

The challenges of a home with pets and children don’t go away with when your baby becomes a child; they will just be different. To get a head start preparing a pet- and child-safe home, review these prior blogposts on the dangers of magnets, string and balls.

Tags: acute kidney injury, babies, cats, dogs, foreign bodies, pets and babies, toddlers,

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