Pregnancy myth: Pets pose risk to pregnancy?

In this series, we explore common pregnancy myths, where they come from and whether there’s any truth in them. While we offer the scientific answers to all these myths, we’ll also look them from a cultural perspective and offer practical tips.

Myth: Pets pose risk to pregnancy

You may love your little terrier puppy like you do your own child, but what if your mum tells you need to get rid of all pets in the house during your pregnancy? What should you do? Can having pets really be dangerous for pregnancy?

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Where it comes from

Getting rid of your pets is an extreme measure, but the myth has some roots in fact. Unvaccinated pets can be susceptible to hosting certain diseases and bacteria. In the past, there were no vaccines and little medical care for pets, making animals less safe to be around. But now, most pets are very healthy and disease-free from regular veterinary care. You might want to however avoid adopting a new pet at this time, especially if you don’t know its health history.

Cats pose a special problem as their poop contains the parasitic infection called toxoplasmosis. This is an infection that can cause birth defects and the litter becomes infectious after one day. So if you have cats, you should either ask someone else to clean the litter for you or take special precautions doing it yourself.

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Should I follow this myth?

If you have healthy pets that receive regular veterinary care, they’re as safe to have around as people, if not safe. It’s perfectly safe to stroke and hug your pets as they don’t cause any danger.

With cats, the only thing you need to be careful about is the kitty litter. Having the litter around is not a problem as long as you avoid contact with it. If you live alone and have to clean the litter yourself, wear gloves and wash your hands after every litter change. Clean the litter everyday as it becomes infectious after a day or so.

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It might also be worth having yourself tested for toxoplasmosis. If you’ve had cats for a long time, you might find you’ve already been infected before and are immune already. In that case, you won’t need to take any special care.

Remember, the joys of having pets can greatly outweigh any minor risks. Pets are great at alleviating stress, and can even lower your blood pressure. They are great for cheering you up and chasing away the pregnancy blues. You can think of them as the health benefits of having pets!

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