Tips for bringing home a new pet
With many families home right now, we have seen an increase in pet adoptions. To me, this speaks to the human-animal bond. As we see people needing to distance themselves from one another due to COVID-19, the need for connection remains. Having a pet fulfills that need at a difficult time, becoming a safe companion for someone more accustomed to social life or even a playmate for children who are not with their peers. Working from home has allowed people to avoid commute times and perhaps have a bit more free time for a pet.
If you have brought or are planning to bring home a pet, here are 5 tips to ensure an easier transition:
1. Make sure to get your pet proper vaccinations. With warmer weather and exposure to other dogs on walks, you'll want to make sure your pet is protected from life-threatening diseases such as parvo in dogs or feline leukemia in cats. It is important your pets are vaccinated before exposure to other pets. In addition to diseases, warmer weather also means more parasite activity. You need to make sure your pets are protected from heartworm, fleas, ticks, hookworms, roundworms, and tapeworms.
2. Be sure to pet-proof your home. Prior to bringing your dog home, you'll want to look around for objects that your dog or cat may get into such as electrical wires, electronics and the remote, and your shoes! Puppies are curious creatures and exploring a new area. Using barricades like baby gates or exercise pens are great starters until your pup is ready to have free range. Be sure to also check your back yard for any dangerous objects or toxic plants! These steps are important for all new pets, regardless of age. Having your home prepared before you get home will make the transition easier and less stressful.
3. Start potty training from day one! Establish where your dog is expected to do its business and adhere to that routine. If your new pet is a cat, you will want to initially make sure they have a clean litter box and are confined to a smaller room or area with the litter box to get acclimated. Other training that is helpful to begin on day one includes determining if your pet will or will not be allowed on the couch, crate training, and basic behaviors like sit and down. Be sure to reward your pet when they do something correctly.
4. Look for a puppy class. Socialization is important and while we are currently practicing social distancing, some companies have brought their services online to help pet parents. This will also help with training and is a great starting point for when we are able to gather at dog parks in the warmer weather!
5. Take one day at a time. It is easy to feel overwhelmed with a new pet but remember, you are both adjusting to this new life! The longterm rewards of being a pet parent will be worth it and if there are ever any specific concerns we can help address, your doctor is always available to help!
Be sure to share your new pup and cat pics with us by tagging us on social media!
- Dr. George Melillo
Chief Veterinary Officer, Heart + Paw