New Pet in the New Year

Were you or a loved one gifted with a new pet this past holiday? Here are some things you may want to know or learn about your new best friend.

Potty Training

The primary concern after getting a new cat or dog, especially a young one, is potty training.

Dogs

Follow a tight schedule with your new dog. If your dog is not house broken, or is very young, begin taking it outside to relieve itself at least every two hours. Start early in the morning when you wake up, so they don’t have time to have an accident in your home. Keep a close eye on your dog and set them up for success. Give them as many opportunities to go outside as possible. Note their body language—do they sniff at the door or bark before they have an accident? Make sure to reward their good behavior and give them treats and praise when they go outside. Punishing your puppy for having accidents can actually result in more accidents. They may try to hide instead of alerting you to their need to go outside. If your puppy is having frequent accidents, take them outside more often. Always set your pet up for success for good training and to foster a happy, trusting, and loving relationship.

Cats

Cats can either be very easy or very difficult. Set up a litter box in an area that is easy for your cat to access, such as the kitchen or a laundry room. It is important that your cat not feel trapped, so avoid keeping the litter box in a closet or a cabinet. It is recommended to start them with an uncovered litter box, as it can be easier for them to access it. Place them in the box frequently to show them that this is a place for them to go, and be sure to keep the litter box clean. A dirty litter box may discourage your cat from using it. Consider confining them to the area with you, such as closing the door to the room and spending time with them, or gating off part of a room that you are also in. If your cat has an accident, place them in the litter box. As with dogs, reward your cat for good behavior with treats and praise.

Take a look at our Pinterest board for tips for training for young animals!

Vaccinations

Keeping your new pet healthy and up to date on their vaccinations should be one of the top concerns. Be sure to find out what vaccinations your pet has already had. This can easily be done by calling the shelter or humane society they came from, their breeder, or their previous owners. Usually, when adopting a pet from a shelter or humane society, they will send home paperwork with the pet’s vaccination history. If your pet came from a breeder and was vaccinated by the breeder, be sure that they include the stickers from the vaccinations for verification. These stickers will note the serial number of the vaccination and its expiration date. Also, make sure that they give you a clear history of when the vaccinations were administered. If your new pet came from a previous owner, have them call and collect the vaccination and medical history from their previous veterinarian.
Keeping your new pet up to date on their vaccinations or on schedule with their boosters, is very important. Call your veterinarian to make a check-up appointment soon after your receive your new pet. For more information about core vaccinations through AAHA accredited hospitals, click here. For our Pinterest board about vaccinations and booster schedule, click here.

Feeding

Recommended feeding schedules will vary depending on your new dog’s weight and age. According to Dr. Keele, if your puppy is over ten pounds, it is recommended that they be fed two to three times a day. If your puppy weighs less than ten pounds, it is recommended that they be fed more frequently in smaller amounts, as smaller animals are more prone to low blood sugar. They should be fed a good quality, over the counter food that is appropriate for their age and breed. As your pet grows, consult your veterinarian and adjust their food accordingly. If your new dog is older, consult your veterinarian about their weight, recommended portion sizes and frequency of feeding. Older dogs may require health-specific diets, such as a prescription diet for urinary health or kidney health.

Feeding recommendations for cats rely mostly on the preferences of the cat and the owner. Some cats prefer to eat on their own time, for which Dr. Keele recommends free-feeding, or leaving out a set amount of food for the day. Other cats may prefer to eat at specific times of day. Consult your veterinarian regarding healthy portions for your cat and health-specific diets if needed.

Dr. Keele recommends that all pets be fed a dry diet to begin with, health permitting, as it is much better for keeping their teeth healthy and clean. However, he also recommends wet food for pets that are prone to urinary trouble. Consult your veterinarian to be sure that you are feeding your pet their ideal diet.

Training

Training is best started early. Take a look at local group classes that can help to socialize your new dog or puppy. The more interaction your pet gets with other pets and people starting at a young age, the less likely they are to develop aggression towards others as they age. For a new cat, keep their temperament in mind. Some cats will naturally be reclusive while others may be very social. Spending time with your cat with respect to their boundaries will help them to become more comfortable and affectionate towards you.

When bringing a new pet into your family, it is important to remind yourself of the responsibility of being a pet owner. It takes time, patience, and perseverance as well as personal responsibility to care for a pet. Make sure you will be able to give them the time and support that they need to thrive in your home and that you need to keep them happy and healthy.

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