Many moms write to me and ask advice on various issues pertaining to raising kids and pets together. Topics range from how to introduce a dog or cat to a newborn, to how to properly walk a dog with a child in a stroller at the same time. As you can imagine, questions also include everything in-between. The latter example is a learned skill, by the way, and I’ll share more on the dog/s, child, and stroller feat in an upcoming blog.
Today I want to write in more general terms and give you a few tips to raise a healthy and happy pack – both two- and four-legged. It will be challenging at times, I promise you. You will probably ask yourself on more than one occasion: “How will I ever juggle all of these mammals at the same time?” But at the end of the day, when the house is quiet and everyone is sweetly sleeping, you will be happy you did.
Here is my best advice:
Healthy Diet: Good nutrition is important for kids and pets! Fresh fruits, whole grains and clean meats will keep them nourished and sharp. In fact, when looking for pet food, eliminate food loaded with fillers, by-products and glutens and opt for a natural brand with meat as the first ingredient.
Exercise: We all know that exercise is important for our children. It is also crucial for our pets. Making time to exercise your pets will keep them calm, in shape and happy members of the pack. In fact, after the baby comes, your dog still requires alone time with you and walking together will help meet that need as well. Family walks with the kids and dogs not only keep them trim, but help your waistline too. I credit my dogs as my reason for post baby weight loss!
Discipline: I am sure you have chosen or are in the process of choosing how you will rear your child. Bottom line is that all kids need structure. So do pets. Establish leadership in a positive way and your Fido or Felix won’t think it is her job to manage your pack.
Manners: It is of the utmost importance to teach children proper behavior around pets and vice versa. At a young age, kids should learn to respect pets. Tail pulling, taking food or treats out of a pet’s mouth, disturbing a pet while he sleeps, jumping on, hitting, etc. are all no-nos. As for your pets: putting their mouths on a child (even if playing), jumping, growling, taking food, etc. are no-nos.
Supervision: I wish I could shout this from the mountain tops. Kids (especially infants, toddlers and young children) should never be left alone with your pet. Accidents can happen that way. As we know, as much as our cats and dogs are people-like, they are still animals and will react and deal with situations as such.
My goal is to keep families (pets included) healthy, happy and together. So often, pets are not only dethroned when a child arrives, but re-homed. Almost 100% of the time, the problem that seemed insurmountable could have been resolved.
I am your resource. Please contact me with pet related questions and I will either answer them or lead you in the right direction. Congratulations and enjoy all of your kids, both human and furry!
Jenn Fadal cut her leash to corporate life in 2005, and opened a holistic pet market in Tampa, Florida, called Wag. Since then, Jenn has worked with Better TV as their pet expert and is the Pet Wellness Expert for Daytime TV. Additionally, she has been a guest on Martha Stewart Living radio, blogged for Chewy.com, and contributes to industry- wide publications. Pack-Mom.com, JennFadal.com, www.youtube.com/user/
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