Oz: Bringing your new pet home

Around Christmas there is an influx of new pet adoptions as presents. The holiday is hectic on its own, adding a new pet can increase everybody’s stress. Here are some tips on how to smooth the process and ease the transition.

Pets can have a major positive effect on one’s life—they are a long term commitment. Choosing the right type of pet is crucial for a successful adoption.

First, adding a pet as a present to a child may mean, once the novelty is over, that the daily care of the pet falls on the parents.

A pet can be anything from a fish to snake. Think of your life style and what will fit most. For an example if you have a busy life outside of home, maybe a cat is a better fit than a dog. Since cats in general are more easily adaptable, this column will focus on dogs.

Dog lovers often have a specific breed they love. Large breed dogs are not for everyone as they require more daily physical exercise, and they cost more to feed and maintain. It sounds very cold, but these are actually factors that need to be weighed in, when committing yourself to a dog.

Pure breed dogs are usually very popular. Unfortunately pure breeds carry specific diseases or medical conditions in their genes. Some breeds are more affected than others.  Mixed breed dog can be equally adorable, and often bare less chances of genetic predisposition to specific conditions.

Upon the adoption make sure to receive all the medical information about the pet and it’s vaccine and deworming record. Take your new pet to be checked by a vet for the pet’s sake and your family’s health.

The transition period can be very stressful to the pet, especially young animals recently separated from their mother. Expect accidents even in house trained pets. Extra crying or howling is also very normal. Many animals will be shy for few days and make strange—give them time to adjust.

Dogs in transition, or puppies, may damage objects in your house. This can be a part of teething in puppies or a behavioral manifestation of separation anxiety. Dogs do not damage your house out of spite. This is either a cry for help or part of their normal development. Being aware and avoiding the situation can spare you a lot of grief. Consider confining the dog in a safe area, either by a crate or baby gates till you are confident its over the habit. Give the dog safe dog toys to satisfy its need of chewing.

Make sure your home is pet proof. Limit the animal’s access to hazards such as medications, uncovered electric cords, poisons such as antifreeze, rodenticides, fertilization, etc.

Before you bring the pet home make sure you have a bed ready for it, as well as pet food and a litter box for a cat.

Dogs need a collar and a leash. Do not walk the dog without a leash, even if you think the dog has got used to you by now. In any case I encourage people to always walk dogs on a leash, especially to a new dog where the dog-owner relationship has not been completely established yet. I also recommend to add identification devices to pets. It can be a collar tag or by permanent means such as a tattoo or microchip.

If you received the pet with some food it’s used to, and you want to change it, do it gradually.

If you are adding a pet where there is already a pet in the family, first make sure that both pets are healthy and vaccinated up to date. Introduce them outside of the former dog’s territory and let them dogs get acquainted.

Introducing a cat and a dog may be more complicated. If you are not sure about the dog’s reaction, consider using a muzzle for a few days.

Make sure that children are very gentle with the pet. Closely control every contact between the children and the pet until all parties are well adjusted.

Adding a new member to the family is a major event in life. Do your research, prepare yourself, your family and your home. Involving a vet and a pet trainer is also recommended.



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