Vets on Call

Vets on Call

Bringing home a new baby is always an exciting time but many people wonder what is the best way to introduce the new addition to your furbaby? The best approach is to start early. Even before baby arrives, pets will notice the changes around the house as preparations for your bundle of joy begin.

Introduce changes before the new baby arrives

When you sit down and think about it, there might be quite a few changes you want to make in order to accommodate your new baby.

  • Pets sleeping in bed with you
  • Jumping on furniture
  • Jumping on people
  • Early morning walks / long walks
  • Does mum do most of the walks?


It’s best to make these changes early and gradual, with lots of praise and encouragement. Is your dog or cat moving out of your bed? Make sure to treat them to a comfortable new bed and reward them for sleeping in it.

Does your pet jump on people as soon as they walk through the door? This might not be a problem now, but when you’re heavily pregnant or will soon have a small child at home, this is’t the best idea and you should consider addressing this behaviour.

Has your pet been around children before? If not, try to introduce them to children and reward them for good behaviour. Invite some friends with children over or add a local playground to your walking route. Be sure to praise pets and ensure that the children are comfortable around pets and can give your pet the space and respect they need. This will even help pets familiarise themselves with the sounds kids make.

There’s going to be a lot of new toys around the house.. But they’re not for your pet. Introduce these items gradually in the weeks before baby is due and make sure that your pet knows the new equipment isn’t for them to jump in and have a nap! If you want to take it a step further, have a doll test out these new gadgets and get your pet used to them and used to you looking after a baby.

Cats can often think that a new baby cot is a new plush palace you’ve got just for them. For baby’s safety, be clear and consistent with your cat that baby’s cot is not for them and consider making the nursery out of bounds, particularly during baby’s sleep times.

Leaving pets at home

Make sure you have a plan for caring for your pets when you’re in the hospital. A partner or trusted friend needs to be sure that your pet will be cared for no matter what’s going on in the hospital. Regular feeds and walks will keep pets’ stress-levels down and will make your reunion easier when you return home.

Don’t leave it until the last minute. Just as you pack your hospital bags weeks in advance, walk a friend through the feeding and care instructions for your pet long before your due date so they are prepared.

Introduce baby scent before baby comes home

Bring a baby blanket or bodysuit your baby has slept in and bring this to your pet before baby is home – this will introduce your baby’s scent and will allow pets to be ‘familiar’ with baby once they’re home. Keep the blanket around the house as you prepare to bring baby home. Drape it on the sofa or add it to your bedding but do not include it as part of your pet’s bedding.

Calm introductions

If possible, parents should greet pets before the baby is introduced (you might need to take turns waiting with baby by the front door). Pet’s excitement levels are likely to be high during this reunion and it’s best to get this energy out without the baby around so you can enjoy your welcome home!

When it is time to have your pet meet the new baby, get settled comfortably on the couch before letting your pet in the room. Dogs should be on a leash and ideally in a sit or stay position when first meeting. Make sure to offer positive reinforcements, offering lots of praise and treats to your pet. This first introduction does not have to be very long, interactions between baby and pet can gradually get longer and more relaxed as they become more comfortable.


If you’re concerned that your pet will be a little too interested while you breastfeed, consider having your partner distract your pet with play or treats. Letting them know that breastfeeding is a quiet, peaceful time from the beginning will set good behaviour.


Of course, visitors will be eager to see your new baby. Be mindful of how these visits may affect your pet and be sure to offer positive reinforcement whenever possible. If possible, create a safe space for pets to retreat if they choose – such as a dog crate, another pet-safe room or a cat tree. If excessive visitors are adding to your pet’s stress, try to schedule these effectively and consider getting a friend, family member or dog-walker walk your dog when visitors are over.