Most people take their pets as part of their family. But as a pregnant woman, you should be mindful of the pets you keep around you.
It’s not safe to keep some animals in your home when you’re pregnant, so you should learn how to safely handle the one you have at home.
Cat poop contains the parasitic infection called toxoplasmosis, an infection that can cause birth defects. So keeping cats during pregnancy is risky. The litter can become infectious.
What you can do if you have cats
If you have a cat, here are the tips that can help to keep you safe from toxoplasmosis:
- Ask someone else who isn’t pregnant to clean out the litter box every day.
- Ensure your cat is kept inside.
- Don’t go near stray cats.
- Always wash your hands well with soap and water after touching a cat.
- Avoid feeding your cat undercooked meat.
Generally, you may not need to be concerned about dogs, but you have to get them ready for the arrival of your little one.
What you can do if you have dogs
- Teach your dog not to jump up on your belly anymore.
- Before you have your baby, train your dog to stop biting and jumping unnecessarily if it has such habits.
- Before your baby is born, ensure that your dog is up-to-date with vaccinations.
- If you and your dog are especially close, ask someone else to spend more time with it instead of you.
Some people keep mice, gerbils, hamsters or guinea pigs as pets. If you’re one of those, be very careful with them when you’re pregnant as they may carry a virus called lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV), which can harm you and your baby. LCMV is known to cause severe birth defects and miscarriage. Remove pet rodents from home when you’re pregnant.
Reptiles, such as turtles, lizards, and snakes carry plenty of germs that can make people sick. An example of such germs is salmonellosis. It doesn’t matter if a pet reptile has a negative test for salmonella, it may still be infected.
It’s possible that the animal wasn’t “shedding salmonella” on the day it was tested. Pregnancy increases the risk of getting salmonella infection. When you’re pregnant, make sure there’s no pet reptile in your home.
When you notice that you’re pregnant, take your pet bird to the veterinarian for a health check. Birds can carry salmonella, campylobacter, chlamydiosis, and some other infections. And these infections can lead to a miscarriage in early pregnancy or stillbirth in advanced pregnancy. When you’re pregnant, give someone else the job of cleaning the birdcage, and ensure you always wash your hands after touching the bird or the cage.
Dr. Wanwadee Sapmee Panyakat, MD. (5 July 2020)