Many families have responded to Illinois’ COVID-19 stay-at-home order by opening their hearts and homes to a new pet. Our doctors and veterinary care professionals recommend you start this relationship off on the right paw to set your new family member up for success.
Gather Supplies – before bringing your new pet home, research and purchase an appropriate leash, collar and id tags, and harness (for dogs). We recommend a six-foot non-retractable leash so you can keep your four-legged friend under control at all times. An ID tag, with your contact information, should be attached to a properly fitted, flat-buckle collar made of nylon, cotton or leather. A harness with chest and shoulder clips reduces pressure on the neck and can help control pulling to make walks more enjoyable for everyone. Beds, carriers, and crates are essential items to make your pet feel at home or comfortable when traveling in the car but keep in mind large-breed dogs will likely need a series of larger beds or crates as they grow. Purchase food, treats and toys that are appropriate for your new pet’s age and lifestyle, and food and water bowls that allow them to eat and drink comfortably. Toys can be used as a distraction from inappropriate chewing or scratching so select an assortment that is challenging and enjoyable.
Establish Rules and Provide Structure – consistency is key to help your new pet learn household routines and appropriate behavior. All family members should discuss and agree on who will feed and exercise Fido or Fluffy, if any areas of the house or furniture are off-limits, and where your new pet will sleep at night. For puppies that need housebreaking training, establish a routine for feeding and elimination and keep to that schedule. Adolescent or adult dogs will also benefit from food- and elimination-related routines. It’s also important to acquaint kittens and cats with their food bowls and the location(s) of their litter box.
Slow Introduction to Other Pets – New sights, sounds, and smells may be unsettling, so choose a small area to confine your new pet before giving it free reign of the whole house. Use closed doors, screens, gates or other separation devices when introducing a new pet until everyone feels safe and comfortable in close quarters. You may also use Adaptil (for dogs) or Feliway (for cats) – pheromone sprays that people can’t smell but pets can – that are clinically proven to be calming.
Schedule a vet visit within the first week – it’s important to bring any medical records you received to the first visit so we have a complete history of any health issues, treatments, and vaccines. New pet wellness visits include a complete physical examination from nose to tail, checking the eyes, nose, and teeth, listening to the heart and lungs, palpating the abdomen, and assessing bone structure and muscle tone. We’ll ask questions about your pet’s appetite and activity levels and determine if there are any other medical issues that need to be addressed. Based on your new four-legged family member’s age, lifestyle and risk factors, our doctors will recommend vaccines and parasite preventatives to protect against contagious diseases and pests. Wellness exams also allow us to get to know your pet so we can work together to help ensure a lifetime of good health.
For more information about setting your new pet up for success, please call us at 630-598-0600.