Tips for First-Time Pet Owners:
What to Expect When Adopting a Pet
There are many reasons to get a pet, but if it’s your first foray into adopting, you may be nervous about all the things you don’t know. That’s okay! A lot of pet ownership is getting to know your four-legged friend and figuring out the best way to care for them as you go. But if you really want to do your homework before you bring your first pet home, use the following tips to get your home ready. But first, if you do not own your home, check with your landlord to ensure there are no restrictions on pets or specific breeds.
Stock up on Cleaning Necessities
When we think about our lives as pet owners, it’s easy to focus on all the fun things you will do together. One of the aspects that may be overshadowed in this context is definitely the messes that animals make. After all, even the most well-behaved dog is going to shed. Prepare yourself and your home by stocking up on the cleaning supplies you’ll need to conquer any messes that pop up:
● Even if your home has wood floors wall to wall, you need a great vacuum. Look for a model that is designed to tackle pet hair and can remove microscopic dander with a HEPA filter. An essential feature is an attachment for cleaning pet hair from crevices, upholstery, and drapes. Consider getting an additional robot vacuum for light daily cleanings with less hassle.
● If you’re adopting a young animal, they are going to have accidents before they pick up on their potty training. That’s why puppies and kittens are so cute-- you can’t stay mad at them after they make a mess all over your favorite rug. Prepare yourself for the inevitable accident by keeping paper towels and newspaper on hand to soak up any liquid. Then, use an enzymatic cleaner to break down pet waste and odors. If there is still a stain on your carpet after using the enzymatic cleaner, use a commercial stain treatment on the spot.
● Make your own odor-eliminating spray by combining one tablespoon of baking soda for every two cups of distilled water in a reusable spray bottle. If you like, add a few drops of your favorite essential oils to the baking soda before you pour the mixture. Spray over carpets, furniture, your pet’s bed, and anywhere else in your home that could stand to smell fresher.
More than just getting your house ready, you have to get your pet ready for homecoming. Items to have in place before move-in day include a pet bed, crate, food and water bowls, a leash, toys, and door gates to block him from getting into rooms that you’re not ready for him to explore. Make sure to remove potential dangers, such as poisonous plants, and get into the habit of picking up Legos and other small toys your new pet could choke on. If your pet is not already, have them spayed or neutered before coming home and take them for a baseline visit with their veterinarian to establish their overall health. While you’re at the vet, ask about microchipping and see if they can make tags with your contact information.
Helping Your New Pet Acclimate
Once you’ve brought your furry friend home, they may be nervous due to the sudden change in environment. This can be especially true if you adopt a nervous or fearful rescue pet. Don’t take it to heart-- your buddy just needs time to adjust and feel comfortable. Let them look around on their own time so they are comfortable, and use positive reinforcement to encourage play and exploration.
If your new pet goes into hiding as soon as they are home, don’t put their food and water bowls in the room they’re chilling in-- keep their bowls in their designated spot so your pet has a reason to come out and explore their new home. They may not eat for a while-- many pets experience stomach issues when they are stressed from a big change. Signs of a cat with an upset stomach include vomiting and/or inappetence, while dogs with upset stomachs may experience diarrhea and/or vomiting. Try feeding your pet a small amount of plain chicken and rice to settle their stomach. If they still show signs of indigestion after a day or so, consult your veterinarian.
Welcoming Your Pet into Your Home - Summary
A big part of pet ownership is learning about your new furry friend and figuring out how best to care for them in your situation. However, there are a few ways new pet owners can prepare their homes so they can focus on learning about and bonding with their new addition-- and, of course, having fun together. Make sure you have all the cleaning supplies you may need, including a vacuum with a HEPA filter, enzymatic cleaner for pet stains, and a bottle of odor-eliminating spray for fabrics around the house. When you bring your new pet home, allow them some space to get comfortable in their new environment. Feel free to give them some affirmations with treats and affection, if they want it. If you notice they show signs of an upset stomach, try feeding them a tiny bit of bland chicken and rice before consulting your veterinarian.
Contributed by Jessica Brody
To Friends of the Haywood County Animal Shelter