New Pet Tips in Honor of National Pet Month

Whether it runs, tweets or hops, there’s a lot you can do to prepare your home and family for the new addition!

 

Picture 002Adding a pet to your family is a big decision. Cats and dogs can live for many years, to say nothing of a parrot, which can outlive you! It’s not a decision to be taken lightly, so here are a few things to consider before deciding on a pet:

 

  • Can you commit to its care? Different pets need different levels of care and some do better if there is someone at home at least part of the day. A dog, for example, is happiest with someone home and with several walks a day. A cat is more independent. An iguana really doesn’t need you to be there at all!

 

  • Do you have time in your lives for a pet? It’s a big responsibility to bring home a pet. Are the children old enough to help take care of a pet? Do you have the time? Do you travel a lot? Think about these things when deciding on the type of pet that you might want to start with and involve your kids in the decision. After all, if they’re going to help take care of it, they need to be on board!

 

  • Any allergies? This is a big one! You don’t want to find out four days in that your youngest is crazy allergic to cat dander! Expose the kids to different animals to see if there are any issues. Perhaps it’s an option to dog sit for a friend for a few days? Hypoallergenic dogs and other pets are always an option!

 

Let’s assume that you’ve done your research and decided on a pet, whether furry, feathered or covered in scales. Here are some tips for ensuring a smooth transition for your new family member, and those that are already there!

 

Pet proof your house

 

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Getting your home ready to receive your newest family member is not hard but it does depend on the kind of animal you’re getting. For example, if you’re getting a dog, you might want to go around on all fours and see what kinds of things they could get into and chew on. Chemicals need to be moved to higher shelves, latches should be placed on garbage cans, cords should be hidden or protected (this one is true for cats too! They love to chew on cords!). If you have an outdoor space, make sure that it’s safe and that there are no gaping holes in the fence that Rover can charge through on his first day home!

 

Find a quiet corner for the crate, cage or tank. Somewhere accessible to members of the family so that everyone can see when Hammy Hamster is out of food, but not in the middle of the hustle and bustle.

 

For caged pets, it’s not recommended that they be left in children’s rooms. Better to place the cage in a communal space, so that everyone can spend time with your new friend!

 

Set up a care plan

 

Who is going to do the walking, cage cleaning, poop and scooping in the backyard? If it’s agreed that everyone is helping out, a good way to keep on top of it is to keep a chore chart with everyone’s scheduled times to do the work.

 

If the kids are doing everything, keep on on eye them! The first few days that the new pet is home will be a flurry of activity, with everyone wanting to help out and care for the animal but don’t be surprised if their interest level wanes a little over time, as the kids discover that it’s actual work! You don’t want to find that the guinea pigs are sitting in poop from a little too much cage neglect!

 

Equip yourself

 

7-30-2006-25Buying equipment for a new pet is a little like buying for a new baby: you can easily go overboard! There are essentials though, for every type of creature:

 

  • A safe place to sleep / rest / live. For a dog, that will mean a crate. For a cat, a fluffy bed in a box. Smaller furry creatures need an appropriate cage and hiding place, while a good quality tank will go a long way to keeping your fish friends happy.
  • Age and species appropriate food. Food quality is important: your pet can avoid downstream health issues by getting a high quality food from the beginning. If you don’t care for the brand your pet is currently eating (pet store / breeder / animal shelter choices), it’s important not to change brands / foods quickly but instead transition slowly, over a period of several days. Otherwise, they could end up with quite an upset tummy!
  • Walking / hygiene related items. Dogs need collars, identity disks and leashes. Outdoor cats should also have a collar and ID. Litter boxes, litter, bedding, grooming tools and more are all important, depending on what kind of pet you have. While cats litter train in no time, dogs can take a little longer. Consider things like training pads to make sure that the accidents are contained!
  • Toys. All kids need a few toys to spark the imagination and your pets are no exception. Make sure they are safe for the species and away you go!

 

Get a vet and consider insurance

 

Before you bring home your new pet, find a vet that will take them as a new patient. Not all vets will take guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits and other so called ‘exotics’, including birds and reptiles, so be sure you have a handle on that first and foremost.

 

Pet insurance, for animals like dogs and cats, can be a lifesaver… literally! The cost of veterinary care can climb quickly in the case of accident or illness so a generous insurance policy will help ensure that you won’t be put in the position of not being able to afford the care that your new family member requires.

 

With all of that said, it’s important to enjoy your new pet! Spend time with them and their little personality quirks are sure to delight everyone in your family.

 

Juan Carlos Daetz is the home, garden and pet guru at Maxwarehouse—the one stop online home center that delivers. Literally. Maxwarehouse was created by three friends with an idea for a better online home improvement retailer. Whether your project is big or small, you’ll find everything you need from home organization and improvement to auto and lawn care, all online. If you need it, they got it! Free shipping on orders over $50!