It’s puppy and kitten season! Which means people are flocking to local shelters and calling distant breeders to adopt those fresh little fur babies, but what should you expect when picking out your first pet? Our new pal Jessica Brody over at OurBestFriends.pet was nice enough to put together some pointers for new pet parents! Jessica is a fellow dog lover & the creator of OurBestFriends.pet, where animal lovers can share their favorite photos & stories about their furry pals!
Essential Advice for First-Time Pet Owners
So, you’ve finally made the decision to introduce a pet into your life. Whether you choose a cute, little fish or a big, fluffy dog, caring for your pet will be an endlessly rewarding experience. But before you jump into it, make sure you’re prepared. Here are a few simple tips to help you ensure your adoption is a successful one.
Ask Yourself Some Questions Before Picking a Pet
Before you pick out a furry friend, consider what you can provide and how much time you have to spare. Cats, guinea pigs, rabbits and birds are better pets for people who travel a lot. Unlike dogs, these animals can stand to be alone as long as they’re checked on every day. Avoid long-haired cats and dogs if any of your family members have allergies. Remember that dogs need to be taken outside frequently to use the bathroom, so they’re not the best option for apartment dwellers. On the other hand, fish and hamsters are good pets for small spaces. Finally, don’t get a new puppy if you don’t have the time to train it. Retired service dogs are a great alternative if you’re looking for a pet that’s already well-behaved!
Do Your Research and Get Prepared
Gather all of the supplies you need for your pet before you bring your pet home. For cats and dogs, this may include:
- Food and water bowls
- Travel crates
- House-training supplies or litter box
- Grooming products
- A comfortable bed
If you’re getting fish, learn how to establish a nitrogen cycle in your tank before you add any fish. You risk losing fish to poison gases in the water if you don’t do this. For small rodents, do your own research on the proper cages, bedding and accessories that your specific breed requires. Don’t just take advice solely from pet store employees.
Make Your Pet Feel Comfortable in Their New Home
Welcoming a pet home for the first time can be overwhelming for them. Let your dog, cat, or other animal explore on their own and meet new family members at their own pace. This advice is especially useful for people adopting rescue pets that may be frightened or scared. Learn how to properly house-train new puppies to make the process as mess-free as possible. Start training your pet from day one so they know what kind of behavior you expect from them. Provide rewards for good behavior, such as treats, belly rubs, or a quick playtime. Pets will bond more quickly to owners who are consistent and fair. Finally, never let your emotions take over when reprimanding a dog for bad behavior.
Schedule Your First Vet Visit
Unless you have a fish or other similar creature, it’s important that you take your pet to the vet soon after you get home. Young’s Animal Hospital recommends scheduling a vet appointment well in advance since many vets get booked up early. An initial visit is key to determine any possible health risks that may become a problem in the future. Plus, new puppies or kittens may still need their vaccinations. If you’re adopting an older animal, an initial vet visits are important for taking care of existing health issues.
How You Can Benefit from Pet Ownership
According to Medical News Today, pets provide many wonderful benefits to their owners’ mental health. This is a reason why companion animals are often recommended for people in addiction recovery. In fact, many studies have found that pets provide a sense of stability and meaningfulness to the lives of people suffering from substance abuse. Pets force you to get outside and stay connected with your community, staving off loneliness and encouraging social interaction. Pets even give you a strong sense of self-worth as they force you to be responsible for the care of another life. This can help recovering addicts feel needed and give them further motivation to avoid relapse.
Remember that having a pet requires a lot of patience. Your new puppy will probably soil the floor more than a couple of times, or your kitten could scratch up your couch. Even keeping a simple fish means changing the water weekly. Before you get a pet, do your research and decide whether you’re up to the task. Most importantly, prepare for years of unconditional love and support from your new friend!