Idries J. Abdur-Rahman, MD, FACOG
Obstetrician/Gynecologist
TwinDoctorsTV

 

If you’re already a pet parent, its normal to have questions about the effect that your pets may have on your pregnancy. Can you change the litter? Can you continue to feed your pet? Is it safe to even be around your pet? You’ve got questions and you know we’ve got the answers so read on and be sure to share!

 

CATS:

What’s the concern? Calm down kitty! It’s not the cat that you have to be concerned about during pregnancy, it’s the cat’s poop! Yes, cat feces can actually pose a serious risk to pregnant women. Cat feces may contain a parasite called toxoplasma gondii. If a pregnant woman becomes infected with this parasite, they can develop an infection known as toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis can lead to both physical and psychological abnormalities in your unborn child.

What should I do? Toxoplasma gondii is most commonly found in outdoor cats or cats that live both indoors and outdoors. So as a general rule, cats should be kept indoors at all times. Regardless, the best practice is for pregnant women to completely avoid cat feces and the litter box. If this is not possible, gloves and a mask should be worn anytime the litter box is being changed.

 

DOGS:

What’s the concern? Unlike cats, dogs generally pose no risk of infection but that doesn’t mean that dogs are completely risk-free. Just be aware of your dog’s physical habits, especially if you have a large dog. A jumper can be a physical danger, especially as your belly gets larger.

What should you do? If your dog is a jumper, you or your partner have to break that habit early. So, how do you do that? If your dog jumps on you, immediately and quietly walk out of the room and close the door. Wait for 60-seconds before quietly going back into the room. If the dog jumps on you again, quietly walk away and wait again for 60-seconds before returning. Keep doing this until your dog learns not to jump on you. Breaking this habit early will reduce the risk of them jumping onto your pregnant abdomen as your pregnancy progresses.

 

RODENTS, HAMSTERS, GUINEA PIGS, AND MICE: 

What’s the concern? Most rodents carry a virus known as LCMV (Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus). LCMV is present in rodent bodily fluids including feces, blood, urine, and saliva.  If mothers-to-be are infected with this virus, the infection can cause serious birth defects and/or lead to miscarriage.

What should you do? Because LCMV is carried in the bodily fluids of rodents, it is important for pregnant women to avoid any contact with rodents or their bodily fluids. If rodents can’t be entirely avoided, it is crucial that gloves and a mask are worn when handling rodents or changing their cage litter.

 

REPTILES:

What’s the concern? Reptiles, including lizards and snakes, frequently carry a bacteria called as Salmonella. While a Salmonella infection usually just causes nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea,  it can also lead to a blood infection(called bacteremia) or and infection of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (known as meningitis)

What should you do? We hate to break it to you, but any reptiles should be removed from the home during pregnancy and especially before you have your baby. While the risks of Salmonella infection are high in pregnant women, infants and young children have an even higher risk of contracting Salmonella.

 

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