Preparing for a New Pet

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Are you thinking about adding a cat or dog to your household? Perhaps you have a family member or friend that has this wonderful, well-behaved pet; and you’d like to have one too! But, before you rush out, take some time to consider the time, effort, and money that may have been spent to develop and maintain that pet; and the priceless relationship that you too want to enjoy. Just like people, cats and dogs have their own personalities.

We’ve assembled some information below for you to review that may help you find the loyal, furry companion most suited to your lifestyle.

Are you considering adding a pet to your household? Before you buy or adopt, research the breeds that are best suited to your lifestyle. Even with mixed breed dogs, the traits of their ancestors will help comprise their personality, temperament and activity levels. The kitten or puppy that may look adorable and steal your heart, could turn out to be ill-suited for your family. Whatever you do NEVER buy or adopt on impulse. Bringing a pet into your home should be considered a commitment for the lifetime of the pet. Shelters are filled with pets that were never given proper consideration prior to their purchase or adoption. The following two sites will help you identify the breeds which would best fit what you’re looking for in a companion:

For Cats
http://animal.discovery.com/breedselector/catselectorindex.do

For Dogs
http://animal.discovery.com/breed-selector/dog-breeds.html

This information can also be used when adopting a mixed breed cat or dog if you or the shelter can identify, at least in part, what breeds are likely in the animal’s background. There is also genetic testing available for dogs (www.wisdompanel.com) which can help to identify what breeds your dog is comprised of. The testing will also provide information on genetic disease related to the pure breed components of your new mixed breed dog.

Owning a pet can have a financial impact on the household. Even the “inexpensive” cat or dog that you adopted from the shelter, can come with untold medical issues that are initially undetected. Before purchasing or adopting, plan to have a veterinary fund available to take care of the pet’s wellness needs and any major medical issues that may arise. Be prepared before you’re faced with a medical emergency. Remember that you are responsible for your pet’s health. Click on the following link, http://www.aspca.org/adoption/pet-care-costs.aspx, to get an idea of the annual cost of caring for your new pet.

As part of your research, consider your living space before adding a pet. If you’re in a small apartment with no yard, time or inclination to walk a dog, rain or shine, perhaps a cat is the best choice as a companion. A medium or large dog isn’t likely to do well in a small confined space without regular exercose. Even some of the small breed dogs have high energy levels, and would benefit from having a yard where they can run and exercise.

All pets require a time commitment; the amount of time depends on the individual pet. Cats. in general, will require less attention than dogs. However, even the most aloof cat will need some attention as well as its’ daily meals and clean, fresh water. A clean litter box helps to insure that the cat will continue to use it, and not soil around your home.

Dogs generally require much more attention. As with cats, they need their daily meals and clean, fresh water. Since dogs don’t use litter boxes, they either need a yard to go out into or regular walks several times a day. Some dogs can demand a lot of attention, or they may become destructive. Training a dog is another time commitment. A dog that will respond to basic commands will be a much better companion. So many dogs end up in the shelter because their owners never took the time to train them. They can only learn what we teach them. Before adopting or purchasing, consider the time you’ll have available, and be realistic. It may mean the difference between having a loyal, lifetime companion or another dog in the shelter.

Both cats and dogs will require some grooming time. Keep in mind that long haired cats and dogs will require much more brushing to keep them matt free, than their short haired counterparts. It is also a good idea to get your pet used to regular nail trims. This is something that can be done by you or a groomer. There are a few options when it’s time to bathe your pet. You can do it yourself at home, locate a do-it-yourself grooming facility, use a mobile groomer, or take the pet to a grooming salon. Whichever you choose, occasional bathing will help to keep their skin and coat healthy. It is a good idea to get your pet used to being brushed and combed and having its nails trimmed. Ask which brush and comb is best to use for your pet’s coat and start with very short brushing time increasing the length of time gradually. Ideally your pet will begin to look forward to getting the special attention from you.

One last, but vitally important piece of research, is to locate a veterinarian that you are comfortable working with to maintain the health of your new pet. Check with family and friends for referrals. You may choose to stop in for a brief visit to acquaint yourself with the staff before you take your pet in for an appointment. You can use this visit to inquire about cost estimates and any special vaccine or wellness programs available. Here at Family Pet Hospital, in an effort to make the pets’ wellness more affordable while providing quality care, Dr. Sura has put together Prepaid Puppy and Kitten Packages as well as Wellness Plans for Adults and Seniors.

Once you’ve determined your financial abilities, time and space availability, and have some general guidelines on a suitable pet through research, it’s time to go in search of your new companion. When that right someone is found, you’ll want to be prepared for their arrival into their new home. Ideally having the appropriate collar, leash, food and water bowls as well as a bed, carrier or crate ahead of time will lessen the turmoil when the pet arrives in his/her new home.

When you purchase your crate for the dog, make sure that it allows for at least enough room to stand up and turn around. The crate should be a safe place for your dog to retreat to comfortably. Initially placing treats inside the crate as a reward for entering reinforces that it is a good place. Also allowing the dog to enter and exit freely at first helps reduce the sense of being a placed in confinement. Dogs are den animals and with a crate, you’re providing a den, a dog’s safe haven. If you use the crate as an aid for housebreaking, you’ll want to make sure that while following the guidelines of adequate space to stand up and turn around, you’ll not want to allow for much additional space. The reason for this, is that most dogs will not soil where they sleep. While giving adequate space to stand up and move about a bit, you don’t want to leave a portion that can be used as a potty area and then be avoided.

Here are some of important things to remember regarding crating your puppy or dog.

  • Puppies have small bladders, and must be allowed “potty time” in a designated area after meals and at least every few hours throughout the day. Crating a puppy for too long, may force him or her to soil the area where they sleep and make housebreaking a more difficult job. Puppies need also socialization, play, exercise, and training time.
  • Even adult dogs should not be crated for extended periods of time. They too require potty, play, and exercise time.
  • Do not leave a collar or harness on your dog when crated. They risk getting the collar stuck and being strangled in the struggle to free themselves.
  • Always provide water for your dog when crated.

You’ll want to have a carrier for your cat or kitten to use as transport for veterinary appointments, or any other time your cat leaves home with you. The carrier should provide adequate space for the cat to stand up and turn around. If you carry your cat in your arms with no restraint, there is a risk of the cat being startled and running off in fear. To avoid potential disaster, the use of a carrier is the best, safest method for transporting your cat.

No matter how careful we are, accidents can happen. You could find that your cat or dog escaped through an open door or gate. Realizing that your pet is missing elicits an immediate sense of panic and fear. Providing your pet with identification allows for the best opportunity to have him/her returned to you. Tags attached to the collar with the pet’s name and your contact information are one form of identification. However, collars can pull off, or your pet can get out at a time when he or she isn’t wearing their collar. Having both cats and dogs microchipped (www.homeagain.com) provides the permanent solution to identification. If someone finds your pet, a quick trip to a veterinary clinic to check for a microchip will immediately identify the pet and his/her owner. The one caveat here, is that you will want to remain current on your annual renewal to the microchip company, and be certain that they are made aware of any change of address or phone number.

Your puppy or dog will need a collar and leash to be able to go for walks. When purchasing a collar, be certain that it fits properly. You should be able to have two fingers between the dog’s neck and the collar to be sure that there is adequate space so that the collar isn’t choking the dog. A collar that is too loose of a fit will pull over the dog’s head and not provide the containment control intended. When selecting a leash, choose one that you can hold on to comfortably. The leash that allows for the least amount of control is the retractable leash. Use of this type of leash is not advisable for any dog or puppy.

If you want to put a collar on your cat, the breakaway collar is advised. Cats climb and jump and their collars can easily get caught on things in the process. The breakaway collar will release and avoid possible strangulation.

Look for food and water bowls made from stainless steel. The advantage with stainless steel is they are unbreakable and nonporous. The use of ceramic bowls in cats is the most common cause of feline acne.

Not everyone enjoys sharing their bed with their cat or dog. It can get especially crowded if you have a multiple pet household. A soft, comfortable bed will give your pet a place of its own to sleep.

Toys will help to keep your cat or dog entertained and exercised. You can find some toys for them to entertain themselves, or interactive toys for you to play with your pet. When purchasing pet toys, make certain that they are safe for your particular pet. You might not want to give a stuffed toy to a dog that has a penchant for eating clothing or other inappropriate items. A sturdy Kong might be a better choice in this case. Cats also require scratching posts to keep them from scratching on your furniture.


Scottsdale Vet: Family Pet Hospital is a veterinarian animal hospital in Scottsdale, AZ that provides vet exams, affordable wellness plans for dogs & cats, hospital services, surgery, dentistry, canine vaccinations, feline vaccinations, emergency and referral services, along with a full suite of x-ray, lab and diagnostic services.

Family Pet Hospital proudly serves the Phoenix metropolitan communities of Scottsdale, Phoenix, Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale, Mesa, Peoria, Surprise, Tempe, Apache Junction, Avondale, Buckeye, Casa Grande, El Mirage, Eloy, Florence, Fountain Hills, Goodyear, Maricopa, Paradise Valley, and Queen Creek.

Arizona Veterinary Medical Association American Veterinary Medical Association