‘Tis the season for cookies, snow, tinsel and lights. It also happens to be the season where many people and families will adopt or otherwise bring home a new pet, whether as a gift for someone or for another reason. And while we’re not looking to debate the merits of bringing a new pet home around the holidays in this article (we’ll save that for this article), we’d like to share some tips from experts if you’re already going to be bringing a pet home.
We’re nothing if not practical, and we want everyone who brings a new puppy home to love their experience as pet parents. Your and your pet’s happiness depends on it. So how should pet lovers prepare to welcome a new pet into their home during what is often a very busy and noisy time in many households? New pets will already be dealing with the stress of adapting to their new environment, so some comfort can go a long way.
We asked Dr. Wiles and Dr. Naugler, with the RPG Innovations Vet Council, what advice they would give to anyone who is bringing home a new pet this holiday season.
Dr. Wiles writes:
If you’re bringing home a dog, purchase a crate (I am vehement about this!). A crate is a big stress reliever for dogs as it gives them a safe place to go when frightened or overwhelmed. And not only will it prevent your new doggie from causing accidents in the house—crates are great for potty training—it will also keep pooch from destroying things. The crate should be large enough for your pet to stand up and turn around in, but no bigger. If you’re purchasing a crate for a puppy, buy the crate that will fit the dog at its adult size, then block off the extra space with cardboard boxes until it gets larger. Cats too can benefit from having a place they can hide in, whether it’s a crate or box, when they’re feeling stressed.”
If I can sneak in a couple more tips: Find out what food your pet is eating at the time of adoption and purchase that food first. Diets can always be changed, but they need to be changed slowly to avoid GI distress. Pet-proofing your house (as you would with a baby) is also important; you don’t want your new pet ingesting chemicals or getting an electric shock from outlets.
And Dr. Naugler adds:
You need to prepare mentally when welcoming a new pet into your home. It’s essential to understand that your new pet may misbehave, but it’s not doing it out of spite, it’s doing it because it’s stressed. Think of things from the perspective of your pet, which has suddenly found itself in new and bewildering surroundings. Pets are loving creatures by nature and they need lots of love and understanding in return. If there’s an issue, we need to be the adults and find out their needs and deal with them in a forgiving and positive way. For instance, if they are urinating in the house, we have to think about why: Are they scared or nervous, don’t know the rules yet, have a bladder infection, never lived in a house before, need more frequent potty breaks, or don’t know where the cat litter box is?
Once you have the answer, you can figure out the solution, whether it’s signing up for a dog training program, taking your dog out for more walks, or moving the cat litter box to a quieter part of your home.
Are you adding a new pet to your family this month? We’d love to see photos and hear your story in the comments section below.