Five Essential To-dos Before Bringing a New Pet Home

PetMD Editorial
Updated: October 13, 2020
Published: December 20, 2012
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5 Essential To-dos Before Bringing a New Pet Home

Pets are wonderful companions, but can also be quite a handful. Here are 5 important preparations before bringing a new pet home.

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1. Interview a Veterinarian

Not all vets are the same, and you want a veterinarian that best matches your needs. Read online reviews of the vets in your community (with a grain of salt), ask groomers in your area who they recommend, and make interview appointments with them. Our tip: Don’t rely entirely on a vet’s friendliness toward humans (i.e., you). A good veterinarian often has better skills relating to animals than to people. It is also your prerogative to ask the vet if she/he can provide a few references.

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2. Pet-proof Your Home

Did you know that something as simple as chewing gum can be deadly for dogs, or that ibuprofen is toxic to cats? It is highly important to go through your home now, before you bring a new pet home, to search out hazards and get them out of the way or out of the house. This includes cabinets at pet level, counter tops, bottles of chemical on the floor, small toys, electric cords and curtain cords. And it doesn’t stop there. You will also need to check your home and yard for toxic plants for dogs or cats as well as sugar-free gum, which often contains xylitol.

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3. Choose an Age and Breed Appropriate Food

From the time they are young until the time they are seniors, your pet food choices should be guided by the pet’s specific needs, life stage, and lifestyle. You can do some cursory research to get a good idea of why it is important and what to look for, but for the best advice about the best food for your new dog or cat, consult your veterinarian.

4. Select Appropriate Cat and Dog Toys

Toys should be free of buttons, strings, and anything that can be bitten off and swallowed. Stick with rubber balls made for dogs (the harder to tear apart), nylon-bones, non-toxic stuffed toys, and ask other “pet parents” for advice on dog toys. For cats, feather wands are always popular, and a lot of cats are responsive to laser light devices. And don’t forget the old standbys: the catnip-stuffed mouse toy and the old boxes. Cats love treats too, so go with the same advices as above and treat sensibly.

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5. Consider Spaying and Neutering

The best thing you can do for your pet’s health is to have him or her neutered, a term that can refer to spay or castration surgery. Yes, neutering does decrease aggression in most instances. And contrary to popular belief, it does not make a dog any less protective of his or her human family. Your new female pet, meanwhile, will not feel less-than for not giving birth. In fact, it would be worse for her to have her babies taken from her than to have never given birth at all. Still unsure? Ask your veterinarian for their recommendation.

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