Top tips for new pet owners by Vet Nurse Gill Holloway
You’ve done your research, chosen the right type and breed of pet for you and now you’re ready to bring your new family member home. Our Registered Veterinary Nurses have some tips to help keep it stress-free.
You’re responsible for your pet’s well-being from the moment you pick them up, so you’ll need to make some preparations in advance.
- Healthcare – It’s a good idea to have pet insurance in place and register your pet with a vet, before you bring them home. The breeder or rescue centre will tell you whether your new pet is due any vaccinations and other preventative health care in the first weeks at home.
- Environment. Is your home ready for your new pet? Moving in with a new family can be daunting for your pet, so you will need to prepare a safe place where they can rest and feel secure.
- For puppies or dogs this could be a bed or crate that can be covered on top and three sides, in a quiet place. A breeder should supply a toy or blanket with the mother’s scent that can be used to help them settle in.
- Cats or kittens benefit from starting in a quiet room away from the busiest part of the house. They’ll need a bed, litter tray, food and water bowls (cats prefer their water to be set away their food bowl and litter tray). You can gradually let them explore the rest of the house over the next two weeks before introducing them to the garden if you’re going to let them go outside.
- A pheromone diffuser can help your pet adjust to their new environment.
- You should remove any toxic plants or other objects that could harm your pet before bringing them home. Don’t forget to ensure that your garden is escape proof too!
- Puppies and dogs have to be microchipped and if they’re in a public place they should wear a collar with your name, address and postcode (a phone number is optional but recommended). It’s a really good idea to get your cat microchipped too. Your vet can scan them to check if they’re already chipped. Remember to contact the microchip company to register as the new owner.
- Diet and feeding. The breeder or rescue centre should tell you what brand and flavour of food your pet is used to eating. If you decide to change to a different food, you should do this gradually to avoid an upset tummy. Substitute a little more of the new food for the old type each day over 10-14 days. Puppies up to 6 months of age will need feeding up to 4 times a day, while cats and kittens can be allowed to graze on dry food in–between two main meals a day. Remember that treats for all ages count as part of your pet’s diet too, so try not to overdo the treats and make sure they are appropriate for your pet’s life stage.
- Toys. With all the wonderful toys available, it’s easy to get carried away and buy lots of new things straight away. Your pet might find this overwhelming though, so it’s best to start with a small selection of different types of toy until you find out what he or she likes best.
- R&R. Your new pet will need frequent rest breaks from playing during this exciting time, so make sure any children know to leave them alone during their ‘down-time’.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Having a new pet is exciting and rewarding but it can be challenging too. If you’re struggling or worried about any aspect of your pet’s health or behaviour, you can contact our friendly, experienced Vet Nurses 24/7 for advice.