It’s really exciting when you bring your new pet home for the first time and a little planning can help make doubly sure that it’s a positive experience for everyone concerned.
Make sure you have bought everything in advance that you will need in the first few days – food and water bowls, a collar, bedding, some toys, plus a lead or harness for dogs, a litter tray for cats, and puppy pads for house training. The water bowl should be topped up so your pet has a chance to drink after what might have been a long journey.
Pet proof your home by making sure the garden is fully enclosed, any chemicals like antifreeze or rodent poisons are carefully stored away, and cables that can be chewed are protected or made inaccessible.
If you are bringing a puppy or kitten home take along a towel or blanket that mum can have contact with so her scent is transferred. Bring that back with your new pet so they have something that makes them feel more secure on that difficult first night. If you have another pet then do the same thing with a towel smelling of your new puppy or kitten in advance of bringing them home.
Make sure you find out what food your pet is being fed – most breeders will provide a small sample to cover the first few days and ideally you don’t want to change the food too quickly. If you do want to feed a different food make the transition slowly over at least two weeks, gradually adding the new food in with the old.
Find out if your pet has been wormed or treated for fleas and ticks and the products that have been used. Know when to give the next treatments and make a note on the calendar. You could even sign up for our FRONTLINE® reminder service so you receive a text or email when the next treatment should be given.
Check out the essentials – like pedigree papers, vaccination status and when the next vaccines are due and whether any pet insurance is in place – some pets come with a period of free insurance to cover the first few weeks. Remember, dogs must be microchipped by law.
Think about taking your pet for a check-up at the vets fairly soon after they arrive so that you can be sure they are healthy.
If you have another pet, make introductions carefully and supervise interactions. Cats often initially prefer being confined to one room where they feel safe before being given access to the rest of the house. It’s also important that all pets have free access to their food, water and toilet areas without fear of intimidation, so make sure there are separate areas for each pet. Using a good sized pen or area protected by a stair gate is also a great idea for puppies and kittens and allows older pets to get used to their presence without having physical contact and with a barrier in place to offer protection. Once the pets are reacting well and are interested in each other then move on to supervised contact without the barrier.
A new cat should usually be kept indoors for at least two weeks before allowing access outside. At first, let your cat out close to mealtimes to encourage them not to venture too far and to come back fairly soon. Puppies must not be walked in public places or have contact with unvaccinated dogs until they are fully covered by their vaccinations – your vet can provide guidance on when it’s safe.
Everyone in the family is sure to want to pamper the new pet but do try and keep initial introductions calm and low key to give the pet time to adjust. Keep visitors to a minimum for the first few days too. Your new pet is going to be an important member of your family for some time to come, so get off to a great start and look forward to enjoying your time together!