Introducing a New Pet to your Current Pet(s)
First and foremost, we at Wild Earth hope that all of you are staying safe and healthy while we all work together to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.
Since ‘staying home’ is one of the most powerful tools we have, many people are realizing the benefits of having a companion pet at home. For many of us that have pets, we’re wondering if it’s a good time to adopt or foster a new one during this time at home.
If this sounds like you, keep reading. If this isn’t the right time for you to consider adding to your furry family then bookmark this page for when you are ready!
Whether you’re considering a full-on adoption or fostering to help the shelter’s through this time, I believe taking these steps will set you up for success.
These are my tips on how to best introduce a new animal to your current pet(s).
- Pre-Pet Vet Check – Before you adopt or foster a new pet, have your dog or cat checked by your veterinarian. It’s important to uncover any hidden conditions such as heart or respiratory diseases, liver or kidney, hearing or visual loss, and painful arthritis before sharing your home with a puppy or kitten. By identifying these issues early, you can avoid complications from increased stimulation and physical activity. Talk your vet about your plans and make sure you’re addressing any pain, understand your pet’s stamina and tolerances, and recognize how any sensory losses may affect interacting with a new pet. For example, an older cat with failing hearing may not be able to hear a somersaulting kitty approaching. It’s a good idea to provide them with a private, quiet space several hours a day, especially during the first few weeks.
- Puppy- and Kitten-Proof your Home – (this is specifically if you’re looking to bring a puppy or kitten into your home). Exposed outlets need to be covered, power cords concealed, cabinets fastened with child safety locks, garbage cans secured, harmful cleaning supplies stored securely, toilets and exposed water containers closed, and all off-limits areas gated. Just because your older pets didn’t try to eat kitchen cleaner or break into eth pantry doesn’t mean your new companion won’t.
- Separate Food and Water Stations – Fights over food and water bowls top the list of pet home wreckers. Each pet should have their own food and water bowls separated as far apart as practical, but at least 18” to 24” apart. For most dogs (and probably cats), that distance is outside the “zone of ownership” and helps lessen the chance of mealtime clashes.
- Individual Toys – Sharing food, water, bedding, and toys can be a stretch for many older pets. Do everyone a favor and provide each pet with their own stuff from the start.
- Training Refresh – Brush up on basic commands such as sit, stay, and come before the big day. Your current pet will exert tremendous influence on a newcomer, so make sure they’re on their best behavior. Additionally, you’ll need to divert and grasp your pet’s attention so a refresher on “sit” and “come” is a great idea. I’ve discovered housetraining a puppy is much faster and effective whenever a well-trained pet is helping teach.
- Safe Spaces – Create private rooms or spaces for both the existing and new pets. Everyone needs a break and time alone to rest, recuperate, and refresh. Crates, cat trees, rooms or a simple cardboard box can provide a much-needed respite from frenetic fur balls.
- One Cat = 2 Litter Boxes – In general, for each household feline, you need one to two litterboxes. Once you get to three or more cats sharing the same space, you need even more litterboxes to avoid inappropriate eliminations. Litterboxes should be wide, low, open, and cleaned frequently.
- Pheromones – I’m a fan of using dog or cat calming pheromones in the house a week or two prior to introducing a new pet and throughout the first couple of months.
Bringing a new pet into the home is exciting, stressful, fun, rewarding and so much more. Follow these steps to set yourself – and your pets! – up for a lifetime of success.