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Integrating a New Pet into the Household  

By Dr. Al Townshend

There are many reasons why families get a pet. It may be the first pet for the family. There may have been the loss of a cherished pet, and for most Guardians, it’s hard not to have a pet. That’s why over 60% of North American homes have pets. Many families enjoy more than one pet or want both a dog and a cat. There is an unlimited number of great reasons why a new pet is coming into the home.

For whatever the reason, the decision has been made to add a pet to the family circle. Some pre-planning is necessary before bringing the pet home.

Who will be in charge of feeding the pet? It’s essential that someone is responsible for controlling what the pet eats and how much.

Indeed, everyone can take turns doing the actual feeding, but it’s best that just one person prepares the meal to avoid overfeeding and indiscriminate feeding which can lead to inappropriate weight gain and all the medical problems associated with obesity.

There are an incredible number of food choices for pets and so their needs to be some decisions made about what to feed. The Ambassadors at your Pet Planet store can assist you in making the right choices for your new pet.
Make sure there is a dedicated food bowl for each pet. If there are multiple pets, several water bowls throughout the home is a good idea. Each pet should have a dedicated food bowl and its location to be fed.

Making sure the home is safe for a new pet. Removing toxic plants, setting delicate china and other items out of harm’s way and putting anything of potential danger away.

A good, safe location for new pets is often a great stress reliever. For dogs, it can be a simple dog crate. They should be large enough for the dog to stand and turn around. For cats, it is usually a quiet covered area.

Exercise and Training
Both dogs and cats need regular exercise to maintain health and prevent excess weight gain. Leashes and collars for dogs, toys that encourage play, and mental acuity for both dogs and cats.

Microchipping and ID tags are recommended for pets that go outside. That is especially important for a new pet has not adjusted to the family and environment. If that pet gets away, it may be difficult to recover without proper identification.

Bathroom training for dogs and litter training for cats is essential. It is best to provide one litter box per cat, plus one extra, to reduce common stress problems in households with more than one cat.

Veterinary Care
Make sure you ask that all health records of your new pet be available when you pick up the pet.

If this is the first pet in the family, finding a veterinarian before the pet comes home is vital. It is always recommended new pets visit the veterinarian right away.

Whether you have purchased a purebred pet or you rescue a pet, making sure the pet is healthy is essential. It is also an opportunity to discuss preventative care, such as vaccinations and parasite control.

Taking a pet out of a familiar environment and bringing it into a new home is a stressful time for every animal. Making sure every effort is made to keep the stress level as low as possible is essential. Avoid loud noises and excitement, making sure there is a quiet place the pet can go to if it seems hassled.

If there are already pets in the family, introducing them to the new pet can be stressful for both the new and existing pets. Make sure the introduction is slow, and both pets are under control. This sentiment is especially true for cats.

Often cats take more time than dogs to adjust to a new member of the family, and so close observation may be necessary.

Taking the time to plan the introduction of a new pet can make the process a positive experience for every member of the family. Be sure and let the Ambassadors at your Pet Planet store know that you are acquiring a new pet. Whether this is your first pet or one of many, the staff can assist you in making the right choices for all of your pets.


Additional Resources
Introducing a New Dog to a Home with Resident Dogs
Introducing a New Pet to Your Household
Introducing Pets

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