Pets often already have a set place in the life of expectant parents before the birth of their first child. Your pets remain a part of the family during pregnancy. You do not need to look for another home for your dog or cat. Contact with animals does not automatically create a health hazard. However, it makes sense for you to follow certain basic rules when dealing with the animals.

Above all, your dog or cat should be healthy. Therefore, it is important to take your pets to the veterinarian for a thorough examination. The vet will also check whether your pet has had all important vaccinations. Vaccination protections may need boosters to be refreshed. If the animal has worms or fleas, it will need appropriate treatment. You should also make sure that the animal remains free of parasites and other vermin. For example, there are collars against ticks and fleas for dogs and cats. The veterinarian will help you choose the right treatments and advise you on how best to use them on your pet. It is also important that you pay more attention to hygiene during pregnancy and after birth. Wash your hands every time after you pet a dog, cat or other animal. This reduces the risk of transferring bacteria and other germs from the animal to yourself and therefore to your baby. Above all avoid contact with animal saliva. Your face especially should not be licked.

Cat faeces may contain eggs of a parasite that can cause the infectious disease toxoplasmosis. When healthy adults with strong immune systems become infected, they usually do not become seriously ill and soon develop antibodies that prevent re-infection. For pregnant people who are already immune and come into contact with the pathogen, there is little danger to the fetus. If someone becomes ill with toxoplasmosis for the first time during pregnancy, the infection can cause permanent damage to the fetus's health. There are even cases in which the infection can lead to a miscarriage. Your doctor can check whether you are immune with a test. Health insurance companies usually only cover the costs for this test if a current infection is suspected. That means you must generally pay for the test yourself. It costs between €12 and €14.

There is a lot you can do to reduce the risk of toxoplasmosis infection. If possible, you should not clean the litter box yourself during pregnancy. It is best if another family member or person in your household can take over. This reduces the risk of coming into contact with the eggs of the parasite. The litter box should also be cleaned daily. Because the parasite eggs are not contagious until two days after they are excreted, daily litter box cleaning also reduces the risk of infection. But it’s not just cats that may transmit the pathogens; some raw foods can also be a cause for concern. Therefore, you should ask your midwife, doctor or health care professional what you should know about nutrition during pregnancy.

It is best to already prepare your cat or dog for the arrival of your baby during pregnancy. Teach your pet as soon as possible that the diaper bag, changing table and baby’s bed are off-limits for them. It may also be helpful in some cases to rearrange your home so that the animals cannot get near the baby on their own. It is best to do this well before the baby’s due date to reduce stress for the animals. That way you can then get used to the new environment before the baby is born. For small animals, such as reptiles and birds, it is sufficient to place the cage or terrarium in a protected and quiet place.

Whether you have a cat, dog or canary, it is important that your pet has a place to retreat to when the baby cries for longer or when you need to leave the lights on at night to take care of them. As your baby grows and becomes more mobile, you should teach them not to disturb your pets when they are resting. In general, you should never leave your child unattended in a room with animals. That way, you are always there to intervene immediately in an emergency and can prevent any accidents from happening. There is a possibility that animals feeling stress may nip or snap at the baby or scratch the baby unintentionally while playing.