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Top Five Tips for New Pet Owners

Tips for New Pet Owners

               Thinking of adding a furry bundle of love to your household? New puppies and kittens are the cutest and a pet brings love, companionship, and joy to any home. But pets also bring a lifetime of care and responsibility and a financial and time commitment as well. If you’ve recently adopted a pet or are contemplating sharing your home with a new fur baby, especially if it’s your first time owning a pet, here are some tips for making pet ownership a little easier.

  • Before you even adopt a pet, do some research, and make sure you have the space, time and equipment needed to take care of a pet for the rest of his or her life. If you have your heart set on a particular dog breed, make sure temperament, energy level and potential health issues are a good fit for your lifestyle. You may not want a Great Dane if you live in a small apartment or a high energy breed like a German Shorthair Pointer if you work 10 hours a day. Regardless of whether you are thinking of getting a cat, a ferret, or a bearded dragon, make sure you can purchase the proper equipment such as litter pans, crates or cages and food and water bowls before you bring your new fuzzy (or scaly!) bundle home.
  • Once you have committed to adopting a pet, make an appointment to have your new pet checked by a veterinarian.  A health check is important to make sure your new arrival is free of disease and parasites and is a good time to answer any health or behavior questions you may have.  Puppies, kittens, and ferrets also need a series of vaccines at appropriate times to keep them healthy.
  • Pet-proof your house! Any pet that will have free roam of your home will likely explore his or her new environment. Set your new pet up for success by getting down on his level and removing any potential hazards such as electrical cords, breakable items, or small things that pets may chew on and swallow. Create a designated safe area for your pet with a crate, bed or blankets and toys. Make sure pets know where their food and water will be and where their bathroom is for kittens and small mammals.
  • Be patient! Puppies and kittens as well as other pets are still learning. They’re not perfect and pets can be messy! Training takes time and effort and pets are bound to make some mistakes and have some accidents. Invest in some cleaning supplies, consider a training class especially for puppies, and try to remain calm and have a sense of humor. Don’t punish pets for accidents, establish a routine and exercise patience!
  • Make sure your pet gets proper exercise, food, and grooming.  Ask your vet for diet recommendations if you’re not sure what your pet should be eating. It’s also extremely important to properly socialize your new pet. Exposure to different sounds, people, sights, and experiences are important, especially for puppies and kittens, but really for any pet. The ideal socialization period is between 8-16 weeks for puppies and even earlier for kittens from 3-7 weeks, though you should still socialize your kitten when you bring her home.  Your pet does NOT need to be fully vaccinated before exploring the world. Obviously, avoid contact with sick animals and maybe don’t take your unvaccinated pup to the dog park, but walks and other social experiences help reduce fear, anxiety and other behavior issues in pets as they mature. It’s also important to leave your pet alone for periods of time to reduce the chance of developing separation anxiety. Fostering independence in our pets is a good thing!

Pets bring immeasurable joy to our lives, but they do require time and effort like any good relationship. Hopefully these tips will help you have a healthy, well-adjusted pet who will be with you for many years!

This blog brought to you by the Patton Veterinary Hospital serving Red Lion, York, and the surrounding communities.