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Preparing to Bring Home a New Pet

You've adopted a pet and are looking forward to having it join your family. Preparing to bring home a new pet takes a bit of time and thought, but it can save lots of last-minute scrambling when all you want to do is hang out with your new furry friend. Here are some things you can do before your new pet comes home.

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  • Consider how you'll be transporting your pet home. Many dogs love car rides, but some don't. A secure kennel is a good option until you get to know your new dog better. Another alternative is to purchase a well-fitted doggy seat-belt. If you've adopted a cat, the animal shelter should give you a box to bring your cat home in - ask them to be sure, and if not, make sure you bring one a kennel of your own. Most cats are nervous in the car and should be transported in a carrier.

    You might also want to get a car seat cover. Pets shed (and they tend to shed more when they're stressed or excited)!

  • Talk to your family to establish the rules. Decide who's responsible for what: grooming, feeding, exercising, cleaning, play-time, and so on. Also establish whether or not there will be areas that are "off-limits" for your new pet. For example, you may not want your pet to sleep on the bed.

  • Have all the necessary supplies ready. Examples are food, food and water bowls, bed, leash or harness, collar and identification tags, brush, and so on. Take a look at the cat adoption budget or the dog adoption budget for more information.

  • Pet-proof your home. Some things to consider include:

    • Lock away household chemicals, such as cleansers, insecticide, antifreeze, and others. Animals are especially attracted to antifreeze; be sure to clean up spills immediately and keep the rest out of reach as even a small amount can be fatal.

    • Place houseplants out of reach. Many are poisonous.

    • Have separate areas for your new pet and any existing pets. Pets need to be introduced to one another slowly; an extra room or a kennel is handy so that pets can be separated until they have grown accustomed to one another.

    • Tie electrical cords out of the way, if you can. Puppies and kittens are particularly prone to curious chewing and gnawing. They may even catch the cords while walking or playing, causing causing lamps, TVs, or other appliances to fall.

    • Keep doors closed to areas where you don't want the new pet to explore (or accidentally get stuck in). This might include the doors to your washer and dryer, your closets, and the cupboards. Inquisitive little animals can sneak in just about anywhere!

    • Keep potentially dangerous household item out of your pet's reach. Stuff like garbage, medicine, pins, elastics, thread, needles, and so on should be placed out of reach or in a securely locked cabinet. Cats can easily get up into high spaces so it may take more care and ingenuity to keep things away from curious cat paws.

  • Make sure everyone knows how to properly handle your pet. Everyone, both adults and children, should be taught how to safely pick up and handle your pet. Also emphasize certain rules such as your pet should never be disturbed while eating or sleeping.

It doesn't take long to prepare to bring home a new pet. A bit of time up-front saves a bunch of scrambling and confusion later... and being prepared will give you more time to spend with your new family member!