Bringing an animal into your life can be one of the most fulfilling times of your life. In fact, I have spent nearly my entire time on this earth with a cat or dog by my side so I do not know life without one.
Whether this is your first time bringing home a furry family member or your 10th, there are several things you should consider and prepare for before you do so. It’s a happy time but also a time of transition for both you and your new friend. Here are some tips to make welcoming them home as wonderful as possible.
1. First and Foremost, Can You Have a Pet Where You Live?
Sounds pretty obvious but puppy and kitty love can blind us all and sometimes you bring home the fluffy bundle only to find out after that your apartment complex is not pet friendly.
Besides your domicile, what are the town or city regulations to owning a pet? Many cities and towns have licensing requirements or some type of pet registration. This helps budget and provide adequate support for agencies like the animal control officer who despite being in charge of upholding the law – you should consider them a wonderful asset. They are in charge of helping catch lost pets as one of their many duties so I would make certain you get to know your local animal control officer.
Also do you have another pet? Consider these issues if you are considering getting another animal.
2. Find a Veterinarian
I hope you like your primary care physician, if you don’t look into getting a new one. Finding a veterinarian you trust can be just as tough. Don’t rely on the one down the street from you. While they may in fact be a wonderful choice, make certain you feel comfortable with their practice and that they are aligned with what information you have researched about your new pet.
3. Research Your Options about Sterilizing Your Pet
There is a lot of, “what is recommended” versus what is actually beneficial. Rescues will more often than not send home a baby dog or cat already missing its reproductive organs and that is strictly to help with population control. Many studies have shown that waiting until the animal is further developed to remove their sex organs can be beneficial to a healthier life for your pet. These organs are not just there to make little puppies and kittens they also produce hormones that help to regulate growth and even prevent cancer. Contact your breeder, veterinarian and other trusted sources before making your final decision.
4. Research the Best Options for an Appropriate Vaccination Schedule
Vaccinations save lives, there is no doubt about it. Parvo was a puppy killer in the 70’s and since the creation of the vaccine, thousands of pet lives have been protected. While protecting your baby pet should absolutely be your number one concern, don’t let others try to capitalize on that. There have been many studies showing that current recommended vaccine protocols are excessive and that the vaccines that we inject into our pets last much longer than the schedules at which they are told to be given. Many veterinarians will advise to vaccinate your cat and dog each and every year. There is no proof that this is necessary and plenty of evidence to show that these vaccines can last in your pets’ bodies at highly protective levels for many years. Find studies that are not produced by vaccine manufacturers to get a good clear picture.
5. Find Good Food
This can be a bit of an overwhelming challenge. The market is saturated with 100’s of pet food brands, all claiming to be the best, most natural, even organic. Look behind the labels and I really challenge anyone bringing home a new pet to study what their body needs. Pointy teeth are made for meat, fresh and unprocessed foods are the best ways to go but while figuring out what the best diet is for your baby carnivore, also keep your lifestyle in mind. If hunting for rabbits in your backyard is not something you can commit to, look into meat delivery services or go talk to your local pet store owner.
6. Tag Your New Friend
As soon as you bring them home you want them in a collar to get used to it and attached to that collar you want their ID tags. Curiosity can claim the kitten or puppy. The great outdoors can be a new adventure for them but getting back home could be their greatest challenge. Keep them secure and keep them ID’d. Most local pet stores will have instant tag making machines or you can always order online.
7. Find Care When You Cannot Be There
While you may have a more open schedule in the summer, the fall is fast approaching and Rex still can’t cross his legs for long. Consider looking now for a well-trained and experienced pet sitter or dog walker that knows your specific animal and can attend to their needs.
8. Puppy and Kitten Proofing
The world is a new and fascinating place to your new pet. Make certain it’s not a dangerous one for them. Hazards are literally everywhere so start by confining them to one guaranteed safe area and with supervision, opening up their space. When you can’t be there, consider a crate for your puppy and a single room for your kitten. Curiosity can get the better of them, which can damage your house and land you both a visit to the ER veterinarian.
Both cats and dogs are social sentient beings. Let them meet other humans in a controlled and calm environment. Bring your puppy to fun and new places to meet more people and other pets. Do not think you need to keep them indoors until they are fully vaccinated as you will miss out on precious socialization. Just be careful and do not take them to public environments, go to friend’s houses who have healthy, appropriate dogs that like puppies. Stay away from dog parks for behavioral and disease transmission reasons but go to Grandma’s house or your neighbor’s and bring Fido along. This is a great time to get them used to the car.
Kitty too, my cat loves to “go for a ride” because as a kitten we taught her to get treats from her carrier then we went for a ride to the office.
10. Train Consistently
We learn new skills and then forget to keep doing them. Your baby pet will benefit from your consistent nature which is tough for us. The more you can do for them, the great and more fulfilling their lives will be with you. Ignore the bad behaviors and reward everything they do that you love. This goes for cats too, my cat can come when called, sit, sit pretty and “go for rides” all on command. We trained her not like a dog, but with the consistency of training that is common for a dog.
11. Allow Them to Rest
Baby animals are like baby humans – they need rest. Even if your puppy is doing crazy sprinting zoomies around the house, make certain you regulate a good few naps during the daytime. Their bodies are growing so quickly and they are not good at regulating when it’s time to take break.
12. Learn How to Keep Them Safe
Take a pet first aid & CPR course. Whether you’ve had dogs and cats your entire life, each new animal is a new chapter. I hadn’t had a puppy in 11 years when I got one and boy do you forget a lot. I had never owned a kitten until I adopted my tiny trouble maker from our local ASPCA. Take the time to learn how to make their lives safe so their time in ours is that much better.
Here’s a checklist similar to what is provided through our ProPetHero pet first aid & CPR course.
New Pet Checklist
❏ Find a vet
❏ Good Food
❏ Training Treats
❏ Food and Water Dishes
❏ Crate/litter box
❏ Bedding (x2)
❏ Soft, Adjustable Collar
❏ Leash (leather or webbing)
❏ Safe Chew Toys (x5 or 6)
❏ Sturdy Metal Comb
❏ Gentle Puppy or Kitten Shampoo
❏ Nail Trimmer appropriate for the animal
Enjoy their life to the fullest. Find fun activities that you can enjoy with your pets and please cherish every moment you have with them. It will go by so quickly.