pet safety while pregnantOne common question is, is it ok to have pets while pregnant? The short answer is yes. But as with all things while pregnant, the important factor is safety—not just for yourself but for your pet.

In general, it is safe for pregnant women to be around dogs as long as their dog is healthy and current on their vaccinations. There are always some exceptions. Pregnant women should be careful around large dogs, dogs that are untrained and stray dogs.

Large dogs can jump and may accidentally knock you down or jump on your stomach. Untrained dogs tend to exhibit erratic behavior. If you currently own a dog that hasn’t received proper training and are pregnant or plan to be pregnant, consider signing your pup up for training classes. Stray dogs may have ticks or fleas that can lead to Lyme disease and other health issues.

Cats are another popular pet and are also generally safe to have while pregnant. You will need to watch out for bites, scratches, and ticks with cats. The most important thing to be careful with is dealing with your cat’s poop. Cat feces can contain the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis. It can enter your body just by touching infected poop and then touching your mouth. To lower your risk of getting toxoplasmosis or other illness from your cat, be sure to wash your hands often, try to arrange for someone else to clean and change the litter boxes, and if possible, have your vet test your cat in advance for toxoplasmosis.

Fish do not typically cause problems for pregnant women, but you should still take precautions such as always washing your hands after feeding your fish or coming in contact with their water and equipment. If no one else is available to clean their tank, be sure to wear gloves and thoroughly wash your hands afterward.

Other types of pets, such as reptiles and amphibians (lizards, snakes, frogs, turtles), can carry salmonella. While it won’t make your pet sick, it can make you sick. Salmonella is dangerous for pregnant women. The best way to minimize risks is to have someone else care for your pet and clean the cage while you’re pregnant. If you must touch your pet, wash your hands immediately afterward.

If you own horses, experts do not recommend horseback riding while pregnant, especially after the first trimester. Riding horses can lead to serious injury to your body or your belly if you are thrown off. While pregnant, you can still spend time with your horses, but as with other pets, be sure to wash your hands after feeding, petting, grooming, or cleaning the stall. And as always, consult with your doctor if you have any specific questions regarding pregnancy and pets.