Pets have many benefits for pregnant women - walking the dog in the fresh air is mentally calming and relaxing, and taking care of a pet is kind of like training to take care of a human baby. However, there are a few things that you need to be mindful about.

Cats can carry a disease called toxoplasmosis and this can be passed to humans. This is known to lead to congenital defects of the fetal nervous system and potentially termination of pregnancy. A pregnant woman can easily become infected through the slightest contact with cat faeces, such as when cleaning a cat’s toilet.

Reptiles and amphibians can also carry germs that make people sick with infections, such as salmonellosis (also called salmonella infection) and Listeria monocytogenes. Dogs, in turn, can carry fleas or rabies and small rodents, such as hamsters, guinea pigs and mice, can carry a virus called lymphocytic choriomeningitis (also called LCMV), which can be harmful to you and your baby. LCMV can cause serious birth defects and even miscarriage.

This may all sound alarming, but it’s important to be informed so that you can take the correct preventative measures. If you are pregnant and you have pets, make sure that your pet is up to date with their vaccinations and is checked for infections. Ask your family or partner to take care of your animals during pregnancy, as an additional measure against unwanted infections.