When you bring home a new pet you look forward to years of rewarding companionship, but that cuddly ball of fur is a huge responsibility. The new member of your household can turn your home upside down if you fail to take a few important steps.
Provide your new pet with the fundamentals necessary for a long, healthy life. Pets need to be vaccinated against disease and protected from pests common to the area. Spay or neuter pets unless you plan to breed them. Before bringing the pet inside your home, be sure no toxic food or plants will be accessible to them. Some dog breeds grow quite tall and cats tend to jump, so move potential hazards high enough to remain out of reach well past the puppy or kitten stage.
Keeping your pet clean is a key to happiness for the pet and owner alike. Wash and condition dogs regularly with grooming products that will not irritate their skin. Quality premium products are available but can get pricey, so try an easy homemade dog shampoo and conditioner. Cats generally keep themselves clean, but when you do find a bath necessary, remember to proceed slowly and gently. Put just a few inches of warm water in the bottom of the tub or sink, avoid getting water around the face and rinse thoroughly. Cats lick themselves constantly, so any shampoo left on the cat’s fur can end up in their digestive system.
Many animals like being brushed, but even those who do not like it will need to put up with it occasionally. Therefore, both dogs and cats should be brushed often while they are young so they become used to the process. Nails must be trimmed regularly. It can get tricky and nails can bleed if they are cut back too far so have a vet or groomer do the first trim, then maintain as necessary. For dogs, keep nails short enough so they do not click on the floor or pavement during walks. For cats, nails should be too short to get caught on fibers in carpets or upholstery.
Water is as important to animals as it is to humans. Fresh water should be accessible at all times, especially during the hotter months or when pets have been active. Dogs are known to seek out the nearest water source when thirsty, so keep toilet lids closed and water dishes handy. Cats may eschew water dishes, so they need wet food to prevent dehydration. Speaking of food, consult a veterinarian about your pet’s diet. Puppies and kittens have distinct nutritional needs; your vet can advise what to feed your pet and how much is appropriate now and in the future. Calorie and nutrient needs will change according to an animal’s weight and activity level; a vet should be able to provide you with a guide showing proper quantities of food for each stage of growth.
Activity is crucial to pet health so provide stimulation and exercise. Dogs can be taken for walks as soon as they are leash trained; meanwhile, play fetch in the backyard and run with them often. Cats like to climb, bat at moving objects and chase toys that move; just be sure playthings are too large to be choking hazards.
Many cat owners complete litter box training and teach that scratching furniture is not allowed, then call it quits. Cats can be trained further, but you may not find it necessary. Dogs require more instruction. They must be socialized and taught a few basic commands for safety purposes. House training is another must. It can be a challenging and lengthy process, so be patient and consistent. For