Adopting a new pet is a big decision and there are numerous variables that should be contemplated before making the commitment. Animals, like people, have different personalities and it is essential to understand what you want from your furry companion. If you have children or pets in the home already, you will want to consider how this new addition will interact with the existing dynamic.
- Time — do you have the time to care for, play with, and meet your pet’s basic needs?
- Multi-pet Households — do you already have pets in your household? What are their temperaments? Will they get along? Have you scheduled a veterinary visit to test for disease to limit exposure?
- Adult or Puppy/Kitten — Do you have other household pets that need to be considered?
- One or Two — should you adopt a single animal or a pair? For example, siblings are already a bonded pair, and will usually remain so for years. They also are great playmates, since they have the same energy level.
- Resources — are you able to cover the costs associated with a dog/cat adoption like food, litter, bedding, annual veterinary visits, spaying or neutering, toys/scratching posts, parasite control, and microchipping?
Setting up for success: Before introducing your new pet
Congratulations on considering adopting a new pet! The introduction of a new pet is exciting but it can also be stressful. Here are important suggestions to get you off to a good start whether you have a multi- or single-pet household. The “3 P’s” Patience, Planning, and Preparation — are critical to the success of introducing a new animal. Sadly, 70% of people who acquire animals end up giving them away, abandoning them, or taking them to shelters. 20% of animals are surrendered to an animal shelter that were originally adopted from an animal shelter. Fortunately, taking the following steps greatly improve the success of the adoption, as well as companion and human happiness. Read more about the 3 P’s — Patience, Planning, and Preparation.
Introducing your Pet to the Household
Introducing a new pet into a household with existing pets can seem like an overwhelming task. Patience is key — the transition can take several weeks but planning ahead can reduce the stress, allow for an easier transition, and build a positive relationship between your furry companions. Click here for more tips on smoothly transitioning your new pet into the home from the AAFP.
After you have carefully thought about this important decision and have decided to adopt, your new pet must visit the veterinarian before entering your home. The veterinarian will provide a thorough physical examination, as well as test for different diseases, FIV and FeLV for kittens, and hearworm and tick bourne diseases for puppies/dogs. FIV/FeLV tests are extremely important so that other household cats are not at risk for exposure.
Lifetime of Care
Adopting a cat or dog is an important responsibility. Identifying and securing a veterinarian for your pet is paramount (for help finding a veterinarian, use the AAFP’s Veterinarians and Practices locator).
Cat and dog owners should have a solid understanding about how to meet their cat’s environmental needs, understand feline/canine behaviors, health conditions, and diseases, and last, but importantly not least, the need for routine preventive veterinary visits. The topics below have more information on how to give your pet the long, happy, and healthy life they deserve.
Preventive care examinations or check-ups for all pets should occur a minimum of once yearly, and more frequently for senior pets and those with chronic conditions. These visits are important to your pet’s individualized healthcare plan. Some things that will be discussed and assessed are your pet’s nutrition, lifestyle, environmental enrichment, disease and parasite prevention, and behavior.
Preventive Care Examinations:
- Information discussed along with a thorough physical examination provide you and your veterinarian with a plan to help your pet remain healthy.
- Animals age more rapidly than we do so preventive care examinations are a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle.
- During the physical examination, veterinarians can often detect conditions that may affect your pet’s health long before they become significant so they can be managed or cured before they become painful or more costly.
- As a member of the family, your pet deserves the best possible care. Together, you and your veterinarian can best decide how to accomplish that by meeting at least annually to talk about your cat or dog and any changes that have taken place in their life. With the information you bring and a good physical examination, a plan will be created that meets the needs of your pet and the family.
You are an important member of your pet’s healthcare team. You can be instrumental in helping your pet live a happy and healthy quality of life.
These Five Items are the Basis for a Secure Environment
- Food – Predictable meal times and individual food bowls for each pet.
- Water – Clean fresh water in a location that appeals to your pet.
- Toilet – A convenient clean private litter box serves for a kitty toilet. As a general rule of thumb, you should have one for each cat, plus one. Many cats prefer the litter box to be one and a half times the length of their body and at least one and a half inches deep. Dogs can be taken outside, or some take well to potty papers and indoor greens for going to the bathroom. For either one, making sure to keep the toilet areas clean is a must, this will help reduce possible parasitic infections and illnesses.
- Safe Place to Sleep – Soft bedding, as well as familiar smells and sounds supply security.
- Familiar Territory – Using adaptil or feliway pharamones can help make things feel more like home for cats and dogs. Face rubbing and scratching surfaces mark the territory with a personal touch. Be sure to supply plenty of scratching posts for cats.
Diet and exercise are some important things to consider when getting a pet. If you are unsure of what type of diet to feed, don’t be afraid to ask your veterinarian. Feeding a high quality food at the correct amount in an important factor to avoiding health complications caused by obesity. Dogs aren’t the only ones that need exercise. Playing with your cat and having them burn off a few calories is just as important as playing and exercising with your dog. Laser pointers, balls, feathers and other toys can help keep them happy and healthy.
Since animals age much faster than humans, it is important to think about what stage of life they are in.
- Kittens and puppies are like babies/toddlers.
- Between ~6 months old and 2 years they become more like a teenager to young adult.
- 3 to 6 years of age they’re in the prime of their life, the equivalent of a 28 to 40 year old person.
- At 7 years of age we like to start checking yearly blood work to have a baseline and try to catch anything before it poses a problem. Being able to compare results from year to year makes it much easier to diagnose a problem before major issues arise. There are some things blood work wont always detect, but it is a great way to get an idea on an animals overall health.
Just like us, animals need dental care too! The smells coming from the mouth aren’t just because our pet has eaten something bad, but may be because it needs a dental cleaning. Getting your pets used to brushing their teeth, giving dental toys and treat can help keep tartar build up down. The best treatment is to schedule regular dental cleanings with your veterinarian. Many issues can’t even be seen unless anesthetized and with radiographs taken.
Keeping parasites at bay can seem like a daunting task, but with the help of your veterinarian a regime can be made up to keep unwanted pests away. There are different parasite preventatives available, finding the ones that will work best you and your pet can be accomplished. From fleas, tick, heartworms, and various intestinal worms to gnats, we have options for you. Keeping up to date on yearly parasitic screenings as well as staying on year round preventatives can keep your pet healthy and happy. Check out our blog on Avoiding Springing up Problems to learn all about preventatives we carry and the importance of keeping up on them.