New Pet

Family getting a new dog

Getting a new pet is an exciting time for most families. Visits to a breeder, rescue, or pet store can leave you itching with anticipation to bring a new family member home. But decisions such as cat versus dog or bearded dragon versus leopard gecko can be difficult to navigate. And do you really have the time, energy, and financial resources to care for a new pet?

How do you know if you’re ready for a new pet?

Welcoming a pet into your family is a serious commitment, one that you should be prepared to honor for the life of the animal. Speak with others in the home to see if they are on board with the level of care and financial commitment a new pet will involve. Unless you know how others in the home will react, you should never bring home a new pet as a surprise.

Research the various species and breeds of pets available, and choose the one that is best suited for your family. Don’t get a high energy dog if your family is never home or are couch potatoes. Chihuahuas are cute and compact, but don’t tolerate children well, so might not be the best choice for a home with young kids. Some cats need a lot of attention, while others are very independent. Don’t get a snake if you are squeamish about feeding it mice.

New pet basics

When bringing home a new pet, there are a few basics to keep top of mind in order to ensure a smooth transition.

Once you’re sure that you’re ready for a new pet, you’ll need to have basic supplies on hand. For dogs that means a leash, collar, bed, some poop bags/pee pads, and possibly a crate. Cats will require a litter box and scratching post. Rodents and reptiles will require a cage or aquarium. All pets will require food and water, as well as dishes or bottles to eat and drink from. Toys and treats can also help your new pet to settle into their new home.

Allow your new animal to explore their new home without too many distractions or other pets around. This way they can take in the sights and scents before having potentially overwhelming introductions. While you want your new pet to explore, you don’t want to give them free reign of the home right off the bat. Keep them in a small room or area initially, and slowly increase their access as they become more comfortable.

If your pet lives in a cage, aquarium, or other enclosure, be sure it’s set up in a calm, quiet space away from drafts or direct sunlight. Place some of their old bedding in their new habitat, whenever possible. For cats and dogs, ensure they have a space of their own where you keep their bed and toys.

If there are other animals in the home, it’s important to introduce them to the new pet gradually, and with supervision. Let them see and smell each other through a gate or crate, and be ready to intervene to separate them should an altercation occur.

Schedule a vet appointment within the first few days of bringing your new pet home, to ensure that they are in good health and to determine a plan of care. If your new pet is young and hasn’t already been fixed, spay or neuter them to help prevent unintentional pregnancies, aggression, and reproductive cancers.

Be consistent with any training, rules, or routines so that your pet is well-behaved and knows what’s expected of them. Remember that bringing a new pet into your home can be stressful for any current pets, so don’t forget to show them plenty of attention and affection.

Bringing home a new pet can be an overwhelming but exciting time, but with a little bit of forethought and preparation, your new family member is sure to feel right at home.

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