Saturday, December 27, 2014

Happy Holidays - New Puppies and Kittens

Though it may be tempting to get a new puppy or kitten in time for the holidays, there's a great deal to consider before getting your new family member: time commitment, home environment, planning for veterinary care. Especially during the holidays, it is important to ask yourself first why you want a pet and to make sure your entire family is ready for the commitment. 

Here are some things to consider prior to getting a new pet:
Assess your lifestyle.  
What is your level of activity?  
Do you want a couch potato or a running companion? 
Are there any people with allergies in the house?  
How will you share the responsibilities of pet ownership with your family members?
Do you have time for grooming?   
Evaluate your home and outside environment.   
Are pets allowed in your apartment or condo?  
How much room is there for the pet inside and out?  
Is it a pet friendly area?
Once you've decided to get a pet, it is time to prepare your home as well as find a veterinarian. After all, your vet will be your long-term partner (equivalent to your child's pediatrician). Most new puppies and kittens will require at least two visits in the first several months, if not more, for booster vaccinations, so make sure you find a vet you trust. Here are some tips for home prep as well as veterinary care for your new family member:
  1. Establish ground rules with your children. Make sure kids understand that a new pet is a not a toy and that there are important rules that must be followed: Let the pet approach you; Do not chase the pet; Do not restrain the pet; Allow the pet some alone time to sleep and eat; Do not pull on their tails or chase them; etc.
  2. Safety proof the house. Check for electrical cords, house plants, chemicals, objects that can fall, gaps in your fencing, kid’s toys, and trash.  
  3. On the day you pick up your pet make sure you get a full copy of all medical information. You will need this for your first visit to the veterinarian. Also make sure you have an appropriate carrier or harness restraint for the car ride home. When you arrive home, show your pet the appropriate bathroom spot in the yard or litter box and then allow your new pet to have some time to settle in. Make sure to monitor them in their new environment and supervise them with the children. 
  4. Visit Veterinary Practices. Make sure you ask questions! Observe how the staff and veterinarian interact with the patients.  Find out about the practice's philosophy.  Ask about emergency care, hours, and payment options.
  5. Make your new pet's first appointment within a week of bringing them home. At the first veterinary exam it will be important to discuss vaccinations, parasite control, dental care, behavior and training, microchipping, nutrition, and future care.
  6. Research. Find out local training places, pet sitters, or doggy day care facilities, for example, so you have a list of options ahead of time.