Adding a (Four-legged) Member to the Family
Posted August 21, 2009
Babies are wonderful additions to a family that can bring great
happiness, but also require special attention. This, of course,
applies to puppies and kittens as well. Before bringing these furry
bundles of joy home, there are a few things you should know and
preparations you need to make for them.
"The first thing to consider is if there is already another pet
in the house," explains Dr. Mark Stickney, Director of General
Surgery Services at the Texas A&M University College of
Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. "If there is a pet
there already you will need to be prepared for dominance issues as
the old pet will think it is the king of the house."
Because of these dominance issues, it is best to introduce your
new puppy to your current dog on equal ground outside the home if
"This way the dogs can sniff each other out and get to know each
other in an area where neither dog feels ownership," notes
When you initially bring the puppy home, try to do so when the
older dog is out of the house and let the puppy explore for a
while. Then you should confine the puppy to one room and let the
old dog back in to sniff around and figure out that the puppy is
"This process should really help get the dogs used to each other
and in most cases is really fairly quick and easy," states
Stickney. "However, the process for acclimating cats to new kittens
is slightly different as cats tend to have more problems adjusting
to a new roommate."
With kittens you want to put them into their own room with food,
water and a litter box. Let the old cat and the kitten sniff each
other through the door and over a couple of days to a week let them
into more and more areas of the house, making sure to supervise
their first face-to-face visit.
"Unfortunately cats can be mean to a new cat for up to a year so
you will need to be prepared for a long duration of family strife,"
warns Stickney. "If you are having a lot of trouble with your
kitties getting along you can pick up a cat pheromone such as
Feliway at the pet store. It resembles the pheromone they secrete
when they are happy and should help to calm them."
Weather you have another pet or not there are some things you
will need to prepare for any new pet coming into the house. Water
and food bowls, food, a collar, and a bed would be a good
"If you already have a pet it is important for your new pet to
have its own separate food bowl and bed," states Stickney. "You
should also feed them in separate areas so they don't compete for
One additional thing you should have if you are getting a puppy
is a kennel. It can aide in potty training and also give them a
safe place to go.
"Just make sure you do not use the kennel for punishment reasons
or they will no longer feel safe in it," explains Stickney.
Cats like to climb and scratch so if you are bringing home a
kitty it would be a good idea for your sanity and the fate of your
furniture to have a scratching post and/or a cat tower. You will
also need a litter box and litter.
Once you bring your new puppy home the first thing you should do
is schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.
"The most important thing you can do for your new friend is to
make sure they are healthy," notes Stickney. "As soon as possible
take them to get a check-up, any vaccinations they need and have
them put on a heartworm preventative and flea control."
Even once you have taken care of all their needs there is
probably still going to be a period of adjustment. New puppies and
kittens are babies and can get scared and cry during the night or
when you are not with them.
"If your new pet is crying at night I would suggest giving them
something that smells like you, such as the shirt you wore that
day," suggest Stickney. "Ticking clocks and the stuffed bears that
are made for infants that stimulate a heartbeat are also very
effective in calming dogs and cats."
Although it might be a process getting ready for a new pet, the
rewards almost always outweigh the negatives. If you start out
right by making sure they are healthy and happy they very well
might do the same for you.
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