And baby makes four...

Health Q&A

Baby greeting card (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Baby greeting card
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
I am four months into my first pregnancy. My husband and I have a dog that I have raised for the last six years. I was wondering if we have to prepare the dog for the baby now, so it will feel comfortable with the infant and not pose any danger after my delivery. If so, how do we go about it? C.T., Ramat Hasharon
Dr. Ofra Gallily, Jerusalem veterinarian and expert on dog and cat behavior, comments:
I have several tips for you on how to prepare a pet dog for the arrival of the owners’ baby.
The first is to try to introduce the pet to other babies – of relatives or friends – while training it to be relaxed and giving it appropriate snacks. In advance of the birth, get the dog used to wearing a head restraint and a leash at home, so you can control it.
Also, try to get your pet used to changes in its daily schedule; for after you give birth, such changes will likely take place. Get the dog used to staying in a “quiet, fun room” where you can give it snacks before your delivery, so it will be willing to stay there when it’s impossible to supervise it.
I recommend bringing home objects with the smell of the baby in the hospital, so the pet can get used to it.
Never leave a pet dog alone with a baby! Some experts say this is good advice even as regards leaving a dog alone with a child up to the age of six.
But the dog also has rights. As the baby grows up, don’t let a toddler do whatever he or she wants to do to the dog, such as pulling and “riding” on it.
Even the calmest dog can lose its cool from such treatment.
By the way, there are some additional rules for cat owners in such a situation. I would advise putting netting over the baby’s crib, because cats have a tendency to jump into the bed of a sleeping baby; for a dog, it is much more difficult. It is not practical to lock up a cat for half a day. It’s also difficult to take a cat out for visits to other babies and to change its schedule. You should supply several places in the home for the cat to hide and climb on so it can stay away from the newborn.
My recommendation about bringing objects with smells from the baby in the hospital is relevant also for cats.
My other suggestions about dogs should also be applied to pet cats.
Is there any way to prevent oneself from sneezing? When I drive, I sometimes sneeze. But this makes my eyes close momentarily, and it scares me that I may bump into something or, if I brake, I will be hit from behind. If there is some “trick” for overcoming the urge to sneeze, I would be happy to hear of it? M.M., Tel Aviv
Dr. Uri Peleg, head of the sinus service in the otolaryngology department at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center, replies:
Unfortunately, we cannot control sneezing, as it is a reflex. If you have sneezing attacks or a series of sneezes, they may be caused by allergy. In that case, you may take an antihistamine, which could reduce allergy and sneezing. Some antihistamines, especially older generations, may have side effects and cause drowsiness, so make sure to ask your doctor for third-generation drugs that are safe to take before driving.
But a one-time sneeze is not an allergy. One can cough and not close the eyes, but one can’t sneeze without doing so because it is an uncontrollable reflex.
It’s best to slow down the car if nobody is directly behind you.
Judy Siegel-Itzkovich writes:
Regarding the question and answer in the previous column on how men can cope with benign prostate hyperplasia, a 73-year-old BPH sufferer from Valkenburg in the Netherlands wrote to offer a tip he got from his own general practitioner many years ago which has helped him greatly: “After urinating, apply some pressure with your fingertips on the spot under the pubic bone above the scrotum. In this way the bladder will be emptied completely; this limits having to urinate frequently during the night and also prevents unwelcome leakage.”
Rx for Readers welcomes queries from readers about medical problems. Experts will answer those we find most interesting. Write Rx for Readers, The Jerusalem Post, POB 81, Jerusalem 9100002, fax your question to Judy Siegel-Itzkovich at (02) 538-9527, or email it to, giving your initials, age and place of residence.