The health notebook
Protect your human babies by keeping things safe and hygienic if you’re a pet-loving parent
INTRODUCTIONS Make sure your pet is ready for the big disruption on the day you bring your new baby home. If you can, take an item of clothing that the baby wore home a day before to introduce the new smell. Train your dog to stay out of the nursery long before baby arrives. Make sure someone takes your dog for a long walk before you get home, so that over-excitement doesn’t get the better of him. Remember, he is most likely feeling a little neglected with you being away having a baby! Model very calm behaviour while holding the baby and allowing your baby to meet the new family member. Calm pets can come a little closer, otherwise maintain a distance.
FLEAS Fleas just love our furry friends. Check your pet regularly. Flip him on his back and have a good look at his tummy, his groin and also under his tail. Also check out his ears to see if you spot signs of excessive scratching, such as redness or little bits of dry blood, as this can also be a sign of fleas. Your nearest vet, pet shop or chemist should be able to supply you with medication to help you treat and prevent fleas. Be warned though: don’t use just any type of medication for any animal, as what works for one animal type can be toxic for another. Keep your children away from the pet for a while after treatment and store the meds in a safe place, just as you would any other medication.
WORMS These parasites are nasty, but unfortunately rather common in children. Make regular deworming – every six months – part of your life from when your child turns two years old. It is easy. Ask your chemist. The deworming meds even come in chocolate flavour these days. Do it as a family, and make sure that your child’s nanny, or granny, or anyone who works with your child’s food, also deworms at the same time. Your pets need to be dewormed as well, of course. Your vet will put you on a schedule and most likely provide an SMS reminder service. A broad-spectrum treatment not only treats worms but also works to prevent re-infection.
ALLERGIES Sometimes pets can trigger allergies. But interestingly enough, it isn’t always the
long-haired pets that cause the problems, as the allergies mostly aren’t to hair, but rather to the dead skin or the animal’s saliva that is found on the hair. To limit exposure, make sure your pet never enters your child’s bedroom, and keep them off the soft furnishings. Vacuum every day. Wash your pet every week if allergies are an issue in your home.
VACCINES Rabies is a deadly virus that affects mostly dogs. It lives in the saliva of the affected animal and enters the body through licking of wounds or through bites. It is vital that you vaccinate your animals against it. Once the symptoms appear, nothing can be done. If your child ever gets bitten, or if you suspect that your pet might have rabies, you should go to the hospital without fail. In general, keep your dog on your property and don’t allow it to roam free and make sure other dogs can’t get onto your property. YB