Congratulations on deciding to adopt a new pet. Have you carefully planned and prepared to welcome the new family member? Our team at Alpine Animal Hospital wants to ensure your pet adoption is successful by offering these thought-provoking tips.
#1: Find the right pet for your family
Pets come in all sizes and temperaments, with some requiring more responsibility than others, and in some cases, a substantial financial commitment. Before welcoming home a new pet, do your research to determine which pet type fits your family’s lifestyle, and ensure your financial situation can support the pet you choose.
- Cats — Cats have a reputation for being self-reliant, but they still need daily care and attention. Each day you must feed them, clean and refresh their water bowl, clean their litter box, play with them, and pet them. Cats usually do not need as much attention as dogs, and they are a great choice for families who are unavailable to walk a dog multiple times a day. Consider an older cat as a companion for a senior citizen—older cats are typically more reserved and do not require a lot of attention. The usual annual cost of maintaining a cat is about $900.
- Dogs — Dogs require substantial time and financial commitments, costing you about $1,381 annually. You have many responsibilities with a dog, ensuring their toileting needs are met multiple times a day in addition to their feeding, watering, grooming, and exercising. A dog’s needs vary depending on their breed and activity level, which means being prepared to take on a long-haired breed’s special grooming needs or a brachycephalic breed’s respiratory health needs. To choose the right dog for your family, consider various breeds’ activity levels:
- Active breeds — Labrador retrievers, border collies, and Australian shepherds require regular daily exercise that engages them physically and mentally. These breeds are best for active families who enjoy spending time outdoors.
- Low-energy breeds — Bulldogs, basset hounds, and Great Danes are low key, and do not require much daily physical exercise. These breeds are appropriate for more sedate families, especially those that include small children or older adults.
#2: Purchase your new pet’s supplies before you bring them home
Before introducing your adopted pet to their new home, having everything they need on hand ensures your new pet feels comfortable and welcome. The necessary supplies include:
- Food — Offer your new pet the same type of food they have been eating to avoid gastrointestinal upset. If you want to change your pet’s food, do so gradually over a seven- to 10-day period, allowing their digestive system time to adjust.
- Collar and leash — Have an appropriate-size collar and leash, so you can safely walk your new dog.
- Toys — Provide your pet with appropriate, safe chew toys to help them overcome the temptation to chew your belongings.
- Litter and litter boxes — Ensure you have enough litter boxes for every cat in your home—one box for every cat and one extra box.
#3: Appropriately introduce your new dog to your current dog
The introduction between your current dog and your new dog is extremely important to ensure the relationship will be a success.
- Begin outside — Ideally, the first meeting should take place outside in a neutral location, with one person restraining your new dog and another person restraining your current dog.
- Introduce them slowly — Keep the dogs a distance from one another until they can remain calm, and gradually allow them to move near enough to one another to make introductions. If either dog shows aggression, immediately separate them.
- Go inside — Once the dogs are comfortable around each other outside, bring your new dog inside your home, but ensure each has their own supplies, so your current dog does not feel the need to protect their belongings.
#4: Appropriately introduce your new cat to your current cat
Cats dislike change, and the introduction of two cats takes time to prevent household turmoil. Follow these step-by-step tips to ensure the introduction between your current cat and your new cat remains civil:
- Keep them separated — When you bring your new cat home, keep them in a designated room that is equipped with all the necessary supplies.
- Exchange bedding — Once your new cat is settled in their new space, exchange your new cat’s bedding with your current cat’s bedding. This allows each cat to become accustomed to the other’s scent.
- Feed them on either side of a closed door — Feed your cats on either side of a closed door to help them positively associate their new housemate.
- Allow your new cat to explore — Sequester your current cat and let your new cat explore their new home.
- Allow them to meet — Allow the cats supervised meetings until they play nicely together.
#5: Appropriately introduce a cat and dog
Follow the cat-to-cat introduction process when introducing a cat and dog.
- Keep them separated — Keep the new pet in a designated room as a way to ease their adjustment to the new environment.
- Exchange bedding — Remember to exchange the animals’ bedding.
- Feed them on either side of a closed door — Feed each pet on either side of a closed door.
- Allow the new pet to explore — Sequester your current pet and allow your new pet to explore their new home.
- Allow them to meet — When the face-to-face time is at hand, keep your dog on a short leash, and ensure your cat has the ability to escape if feeling overwhelmed. Give each pet treats during the meeting to make the situation positive, and continue these supervised meetings between pets until they no longer display aggressive behavior toward one another.
Bringing home a new pet is exciting, and these tips help ensure your new pet’s introduction goes smoothly for you and your family—especially your current pet. If you have recently adopted a new pet, contact our team at Alpine Animal Hospital, so we can welcome your new addition and get them started out right with an appropriate wellness plan.