You might be thinking about selecting a heartwarming holiday gift this year – a new pet! As cute and irresistible as they are, new pets are not toys, and they’ll need your love and care for years to come. Make sure your home is ready for a new pet this Christmas, so that the transition is as smooth and joyful as possible.
Making a List (and Checking It Twice)
Stock up on supplies before you bring your new pet home, so you won’t have to make a frantic run to the pet store. The basics include a collar with a name tag, carrier, pet food, treats, food and water bowls, a scooper and bags, pet bed, toys, and grooming tools. Remember litter and a litter box for your cat, and a leash for your dog. The ASPCA recommends easing your pet into his new home by providing him with the food and litter he’s been used to, at least at first.
Before the First Day of Christmas
Take care of a few tasks before the Christmas frenzy hits. Make sure you have an identification tag ready with your phone number, and a secure carrier so your pet is safe while you travel home. Schedule a wellness visit; the Humane Society recommends taking your pet to the veterinarian within a week of adoption. Make sure other pets in the home are in good health and up-to-date on their shots. Do your research on feeding schedules, housetraining for dogs, and kitty litter training.
Our Troubles Will Be Out of Sight
Your pet’s safety is of the utmost importance, so pet-proof your home where needed. The ASPCA recommends removing stray items that your pet could chew or swallow, covering electrical outlets, putting away harsh chemicals, and moving any toxic houseplants. Remember that window cords can be a strangulation hazard to pets, so opt for pet-friendly alternatives. Keep washer, dryer, and toilet lids closed so small pets don’t climb inside. Move valuables to safe locations, and consider investing in furniture covers or pet gates to protect your furnishings.
All Is Calm
During your pet’s first days home, provide him with his own quiet, safe space and limit his access to other rooms. Place his food, water, and bed nearby, and let him explore his new surroundings. While it’s tempting for everyone in the family to lavish him with cuddles and attention, keep in mind that your pet is in a new home, and he’s still getting his bearings. Slowly introduce him to other rooms, children, and pets so he isn’t overwhelmed with all the excitement. According to the ASPCA, a cat may need up to 14 days to relax in a new environment.
‘Tis the Season to Be Jolly
Busy pets are happy pets! A bored pet can wreck havoc on your furnishings, so set aside time for exercise and play. The ASPCA recommends giving your dog at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise per day. Furnish your pet with toys that allow him to chew or scratch, such as chew toys for a dog and a scratching post for a cat.
Peace on Earth
Make sure everyone in the family is ready to accept the responsibility of a pet. Do your best to divvy up pet chores ahead of time, and take turns feeding, grooming, cleaning, and walking your pet.