First-Time Pet Owner? Here's What You Need to Know
Are you ready to embrace the joys of living with a pet? Whether you'll be bringing home a furry or feathered pet, you'll need to keep these things in mind.
Just the Basics: Stock Up on These Items
A trip to the pet store should be the first item on your to-do list. Although you don't have to buy everything at once, you should make sure you have these basic items on hand before you bring your pet home:
- Cage. If you're adopting a bird or small animal, choose a sturdy, secure cage that offers plenty of room for your pet to explore or spread its wings.
- Pet Carrier. Carriers make it easier to transport your new pet safely and securely. The American Kennel Club advises that carriers should be big enough to allow your pet to turn around easily. Add a soft pad or blanket to make the carrier more comfortable.
- Crate. If you'll be bringing home a dog or puppy, a crate is a must-have addition to your home. Crates serve as cozy dens for your pet and provide a safe place to spend a little quiet time. Just like carriers, crates should be big enough for complete turns. Tempted to buy a crate your puppy can grow into? Be sure to place a divider in the middle of the crate to make it puppy sized. If the crate is too big, your puppy may decide that one end makes the perfect bathroom.
- Food. Look for food specially formulated for your pet's age. Feeding an adult pet puppy or kitten food may mean your furry friend will pack on the pounds, while adult food may not provide the recommended amount of nutrients for young pets. When you take your pet for the first visit to the veterinarian, ask him or her for a few food suggestions.
- Dishes. Although any container that can hold food or water will work, some types of dishes are better than others. Unlike plastic, stainless steel and ceramic dishes won't scratch or retain bacteria or food odors and can be easily cleaned.
- Other Essentials. Depending on the type of pet, you may want to add a collar, harness, leads, toys, litter, litterbox, toothbrush and bed to your shopping list. You'll also need an identification tag to attach to your pet's collar. Better yet, ask your veterinarian to microchip your new friend. Rice-sized microchips placed under your pet's skin contain a code linked to your contact information. Should your pet become lost, a veterinarian or humane society can scan the code and retrieve your information. (Pets should also wear an ID tag even if they are microchipped.)
It Will Take Your Pet a While to Adjust to Its New Home
Remember your first day at school or a new job? You probably didn't know anyone, couldn't find the bathroom on your own, and didn't know where the cafeteria was. Your pet feels just as disoriented as you did. In fact, it will probably take a few weeks for your pet to adjust to its new surroundings. Until that happens, patience is essential.
Don't overwhelm your pet by introducing it to too many people or animals at once. Kids, even ones who are excited about the new pet, must be supervised closely. Excited children may be unintentionally rough if you're not there to show them how to gently handle your new pet.
Your new pet may spend a few days hiding or have a few accidents until it gets used to its new home and routine. If the animal is still having trouble adjusting after a month, give your veterinarian a call. He or she can offer recommendations that will make the adjustment process a little easier.
The Benefits of Spaying and Neutering Your Pet
Spaying and neutering are surgeries that prevent pets from having babies. The surgeries ensure that your pet doesn't contribute to the animal overpopulation problem, may reduce your pet's risk of some types of cancer, and decreases aggression and urine spraying. Spaying, the surgery for females, removes the pet's uterus, cervix and ovaries. Neutering, the procedure for males, removes the testicles. Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to wait for a female animal's first heat before spaying the pet. In fact, the sooner the better.
Your pet may also need vaccinations and preventive medication for heartworm, fleas, ticks, or other parasites. Do you need to schedule a visit for your new addition? Give us a call to make your pet's appointment.
American Kennel Club: How to Choose the Best Carrier for Your Canine Friend, 8/2/2021
The Animal Foundation: The Basic Necessities of Proper Pet Care, 1/23/18
PetMD: The Responsible Owner’s Checklist for Taking Care of a Pet, 3/19/2019