Social Media Icons

Follow Us:

Main Content

Having a dog while pregnant

Twitter Stumbleupon Mixx it! Print Email icon
Pin It
If you enjoy this article,
Go here to sign up for the mailing list to receive more articles like this.

If you're about to be a new parent, now might not be the best time to get a new puppy, despite all the irresistible romance associated with newborns and pooches. In fact, if you've never had a baby or a dog before, it might be the worst time to fall in love with a puppy.

The greatest risk is that the new parent will not sufficiently prepare for adding both the child and the pet into the household, said Dr. Stephanie LeFarge, director of counseling services at the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. LeFarge has seen the worst-case scenarios.

"If the parent gets in the least frightened or overwhelmed, what usually happens is the animal is re-homed, returned to a shelter, abandoned, or euthanized," LeFarge said. "Once trouble has occurred it's almost always over for the animal. Relatives go ballistic if they think the child is in harm's way from the pet."

To avoid this heartache for the animal, it’s best to wait until the child is older to introduce a pet to the family. 

Two separate creatures

Some new mothers may think they will have a lot of extra time during maternity leave and leap to the idea of getting a pet to keep them and baby company, but they should think long and hard before committing to a new pet.

"While baby and puppy can make beautiful Christmas cards, it's a bad idea to get a dog at the same time a baby is expected," LeFarge said. "It's harder than having twins. They are two entirely separate creatures who need attention, love, and care."

LeFarge recommends that parents wait at least until the baby is sleeping through the night before adding a pet into the mix. Parents need to be well-rested to shoulder the extra charge.

For children to understand the routine of pet care and actively participate in the pet's care, parents should wait until the kids are at least seven years old.

Which animals are best with children?

Getting any pet must be a family decision and a family responsibility. Kids are enthusiastic in the beginning, but can tire quickly of the routine of pet care - especially the messy tasks like scooping poop. 

"Remember, ultimately the parent is responsible for the pet," said Dr. Tony Kremer, Chicago veterinarian and educator. "Consider the lifespan of the animal you choose, as well. Are you willing to be responsible for the pet once your children leave home?"  There are many factors to consider before getting a new dog.

It is important for families to ask these questions before purchasing a pet:

  • What kind of pet would best match our lifestyle?
  • What type of time and space are required for the pet?
  • How much attention does the pet require?
  • What is the cost of veterinary care?

Top family-friendly dogs

If properly trained and embraced as a member of the family, any breed can make a great pet. Nevertheless, some dogs are seen as more "kid-friendly" than others, and as a result, have become extremely popular among families.

According to the American Kennel Club, the five most popular breeds in the United States are:

  • Labrador retrievers, by far America's most popular dog. More than 140,000 Lab puppies were registered last year with the AKC. Labs have a reputation for being playful, hardworking and affectionate toward children.
  • Golden retrievers are sporty, easy to train and strong, but their most outstanding trait is character. They are outgoing and devoted companions to people of all ages.
  • German shepherds are noble in appearance and character. This breed's courage, steadfast heart, and keen senses have endeared them to families for generations.
  • Beagles love being around people and other animals. They are gentle, happy companions who thrive on affection and attention.
  • Dachshunds have a lively, upbeat personality - spunky, curious and friendly. They are affectionate, especially with children.

Pet rabbits might be better as chocolate

Rabbits are not ideal pets for children, partly because rabbits usually do not like to be held or cuddled, Kremer said. The association between rabbits and Easter means that rabbits are often impulsively acquired as pets at Easter. Unfortunately, many of these bunnies end up neglected or given up for adoption since those cute little bunnies grow up into rabbits that need as much attention and care as a dog.

Rabbits can be destructive if deprived of attention and appropriate toys, and need to be spayed or neutered to reduce behavioral problems and health risks.

Always research a potential pet thoroughly to make sure it will be a suitable companion before getting one.

Credit: Reviewed by Amy I. Attas, V.M.D.
Did you like this article?
Go here to sign up for the mailing list to receive more articles like this.

Related content

Pet Questions Vet Answers®

All medical-related content on WebVet has been veterinarian approved to ensure its timeliness and accuracy.
Introducing Pet-Pods...

Veterinarian with small dog FREE downloadable PDF files providing a comprehensive review of some of the most timely pet health topics: Allergies, Fleas, Summer Safety Hazards, and Vomiting and Diarrhea.

Newsletter Signup

Get FREE Pet Insurance Quotes Now!

Search For A Vet