Whether you live in a small apartment, senior housing, a large mansion, or a simple house, there’s a pet out there for you to adopt. Pets aren’t just limited to cats and dogs either. Nowadays, you can have the opportunity to care for rabbits, chinchillas, and the ever-beloved hamsters and reptiles. Whatever pet you decide to adopt or buy, preparing for a new pet involves the same steps no matter what you choose.
Pets are living, breathing creatures that become an important part of our lives no matter how small they are. Approximately 3.2 million shelter animals get adopted and find a loving home each year. Chances are you’re considering being one of them. But, where should you start? How should you handle adopting a new pet and what are some of the risks in owning a pet? These 15 tips can help you answer those questions and more. Every living situation, economic situation, and personalities are different. You should mold your pet adoption choices by these first and foremost. In addition, on top of these 15 tips, there are so many other factors and life experiences that you will learn as your time with your pet progresses. It’s a life-changing opportunity to save an animal, and you should never stop learning even after preparing for a new pet.
1. Have Adequate Time
The first thing to prepare before having a pet is the time on your hands. From preparing your home, to walking your dog, to making time for appointments, it’s important to know you have enough time dedicated to preparing for a new pet, training them, and giving them all the love and attention they deserve. Though reptiles and cats are fairly easy to maintain, they should never be left alone for extended periods of time. You must also consider the hours it will take to train certain breeds of dogs, and how many hours each of these breeds like to spend outdoors. If you find you just don’t have enough time in the day due to work, it’s better to hold off on preparing for a new pet until you have a more stable living situation.
2. Escape-Proof your Home
Preparing for a new pet should involve the above mentioned time, but also a secure home. Consider hiring a fence builder if you’re welcoming in a new dog, for instance, that has had trouble escaping in the past. Not only will proofing your home on the outside keep them from getting lost, but also help in keeping them safe and avoid hazards such as burglars and fast-speeding cars. If you have a particularly tough pet that escapes no matter what, microchipping is always a great option to help you locate your pet, and should be available with all adopted pets already.
3. Buy Proper Filtration Systems
Pets don’t just include cats and dogs, but also fish, reptiles, and other unique aquatic animals. Don’t be fooled, however, these animals must also be dedicated to proper care, time, and living situations. It’s not enough to put a goldfish in a tank filled with tap water, for instance. Proper filtration systems, food, water cleaner to clear water of chlorine, and lighting for reptiles are all essential to maintain the life of your other pets. Consider doing heavy research on all these factors when preparing for a new pet.
4. Ensure Outside Time
It’s not enough to just let your dog roam your backyard and be trapped within your backyard fence. Dogs, like humans, need stimulation and should be given the time to engage in walks around the neighborhood and even the doggy park. This is important to get your pet acclimated to people, other dogs, and help them release energy they might have. You’ll be glad when you begin taking your dogs on longer and longer walks, runs, and hikes, and can come home to a pup that has been tuckered out and now wants to rest.
5. Contact a Veterinarian
Many dogs and cats adopted from shelters have already been given their first shots and micro-chipped. However, you should ensure you get in touch with veterinarians as soon as possible to follow-up on any other possible issues. This is especially true if you’re rescuing a stray dog or cat. De-worming treatment, for instance, must be given as soon as possible to help both your newly stray pet and also to prevent your other pets at home from getting sick.
6. Prepare the Inside of your Home
We’ve talked about escape-proofing the outside of your home, but what about the inside? If you have a large dog, cats, or other pets that can roam around, it’s important to make the inside of your home safe for them as well. Ensure cabinets are properly nailed to the wall, take vases and other valuables off of places where they can be knocked over, even consider buying a waterproof mattress protector in case your pet has an accident. All these details matter, and it’s important to consider them when preparing for a new pet.
7. Consider Pet Daycare
Though we’d all love to have a solid schedule to prepare for our pets, sometimes incidentals occur. For example, if you need to hire exterminators, you won’t be able to keep your pet at home while you’re at work. A dog daycare center or even a family member can help you during these times. Research beforehand centers near you that are highly reviewed, friendly, and will keep your new pet safe while you’re away.
8. Prepare your Family
Having a pet is a job for the entire family. If you live in a big household, it’s important to sit down and discuss with your family the importance of caring and preparing for a new pet by sharing time and responsibilities. Certain adjustments might have to be made. For instance, you might not be able to access your swimming pools outside until you’re sure your new pet feels comfortable in the water. If your family is fine with giving up certain luxuries for a bit, and dedicating enough time to caring for your new pet, it will be worth it in the long run.
9. Buy Enough Toys
Once you bring your new pet home, be it a dog, cat, or reptiles, they must have certain stimuli to keep them busy. New toys, such as those that help develop your dog’s teeth, and plants to help your fish and reptiles feel more comfortable are all important to buy ahead of time. Don’t just buy them either, use them with your pets! Cats, for instance, need stimulation to engage their hunting skills, especially as kittens. Though motorized hunting toys are nice to have, it’s better to play with your pets one on one.
10. Research Food
When you welcome home your new pet, you can rest assured they’ll build up a good appetite once they’re comfortable. It’s important to research the proper food, for instance, for your reptiles and fish. This becomes even more important when buying food for bigger pets like cats ad dogs. Avoid foods that are cheap, have tons of fillers like potatoes, and always look at reviews for food. In addition, research how much food to give your pets, and divide that with treats if you’re in the process of training your new pet.
11. Be Vigilant of Allergies
Your pet can develop allergies to certain foods and even linens and fragrances at any time. It’s important to keep a lookout for these allergies. Dogs can develop hives, rashes, facial swelling, and even vomiting when experiencing an allergic reaction. This is also why it’s important to keep in touch with your veterinarian. Stay alert, and continue to monitor your dog or cats eating habits. If you’re introducing a new food to your pet, ensure you give it in small amounts first before doing a whole feeding. This is also true for certain creams or cleaning shampoos your pets might be allergic to. Test them out on a small patch of your dog or cat first, or ask your vet for any questions you might have about a project and your pets’ allergies.
12. Consider Training
It’s not enough to rely on daily playtime and love to train your pet. Sometimes, pets who have been in abusive situations might be harder to take to people than others. Even new pets might need more training than others. Though raccoon removal might help your pet to settle down and stop incessantly barking, it’s not enough to get rid of one problem and wait for another to arise and stir negative behaviors in your pet. Consider hiring a professional trainer to help you with things such as nipping, biting, separation anxiety, bed-wetting, and avoidance. It’s best to get professional help instead of relying on yourself sometimes.
13. Clean your Home
As your pet gets more and more comfortable in your home, they’ll begin to shed, attract in things such as fleas and ticks, and track in dust and pollen after playing outside. If you’re prone to allergies, have asthma or children who have asthma, these are all important to consider before adopting your pet. If you’ve decided to move forward in preparing for a new pet, then it’s important to continue to maintain your home clean to avoid this new build-up of hair and dust. Changing your HVAC filters, air-conditioning filters, dusting your ceiling fans, and buying a vacuum that is designed to pick up pet hair are all great options. In addition, maintain your pets clean by taking them to a trusted groomer.
14. Research Before Breeding
It’s never a good idea to adopt a new pet simply for breeding purposes. Though pets, especially outside cats, will eventually make a litter of their own, consider the risks of breeding, especially with dogs. Pure-bred and overly bred dogs, for instance, are more prone to health risks later on in life. This includes asthma, trouble seeing, problems with hip bones, and stunted growth. If you let your dogs play outside, meet with other neighbor dogs, or have cats that do the same, make sure you know the history of any dog or cat they might breed with. This will also help you avoid any health problems that arise with genetic mutations.
15. Consider Neutering
If you don’t want your pet breeding at all, then neutering can be a great option. If your pet isn’t neutered already, there are local programs that offer free neutering. All they require is for you to be put on the waitlist, and the times for those waitlists vary with different local agencies. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of neutering for your pet. Neutering can reduce the risk of cancer in cats, for instance, but can also lead to higher weight gain and less playfulness. In addition, you’ll have to find the time to take your pet to the hospital, and then come home and care for them while they’re in recovery. Whatever you decide to do, rest assured your vet clinic and local shelter will have resources and information on where you can find help with neutering your pet.
A Lifelong Friend
Preparing for a pet should be exciting, but should also take time and effort. You’re welcoming in not just a fluffy or scaly creature, but a member of your family. Dogs and cats have a lifespan of 15 years, birds and reptiles can live for quite a while too. Take the time in preparing for a new pet to prepare for all those years ahead too. In addition, prepare your family and yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically to ensure your pet has the best companion as well.