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Published: Mar 02, 2012

Couples that are expecting a new addition to the family have a lot on their minds, but the special needs of the household pets cannot be ignored. Dogs and cats may have a wide range of responses to new babies, and parents need to be sure that their animal will be able to adapt to the new situation once the baby arrives.

According to VCA Animal Hospitals, talking to a veterinarian who specializes in animal behavior is a smart idea. This specialist can help advise the new parents on how best to incorporate their dog or cat into their growing family. The response to a new baby completely depends on the individual dog or cat - some might have no trouble with it, while others may exhibit aggressive behavior.

A good barometer is observing how the pet interacts with other small children. Try to recall if the dog or cat has ever encountered children before and what its response was to the situation. It might help to have a friend bring over their baby or toddler, as long as the owner and parents are there to ensure everything goes safely.

Even a friendly dog or cat may have issues. Snuggling up to a baby that can't move, getting excited when guests come over, or barking to interrupt a newborn's naptime are all common problems new parents who are also pet owners face. Try to simulate what having a baby around will be like well before the due date, and use positive reinforcement to reward good behavior.  Get more tips on helping your pet adjust to a new baby at http://www.vcahospitals.com/main/pet-health-information/article/animal-health/children-and-pets/190.

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