Before welcoming a new pet into your family, you want to make sure you have everything you need. Both kittens and puppies need the appropriate food, bowls for food as well as water, and toys. For kittens, your list should also include a litter box and a scratching post (your furniture will thank you!). For puppies, you want a collar with clearly marked identification tags, a leash, and possibly a crate. In the beginning, a baby gate to keep curious creatures out of trouble might come in handy, too. You also want to take the time to find the right veterinarian. Beyond that, there are quite a few other items to check off before you bring your new family member home.
In preparation—pet proofing the house
- Get low—Don’t forget to get down on your hands and knees to see your house from the perspective of your four-legged friend. Anything that might be small enough to be swallowed—an old game piece, a wayward hair tie, coins, etc.—should be moved out of reach.
- Be wary of house plants—Many house plants are toxic to animals, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry. You don’t want to use the number for the emergency vet if you can help it! Do your research and remove any plants that might be toxic. Young animals, like puppies and kittens, are especially curious, which makes potentially toxic plants all the more dangerous.
- Cords, cords, and more cords—Most people know that electrical cords can be dangerous to animals, especially if they chew through them, but cords from blinds or curtains carry a risk as well. Make sure all cords are carefully hidden, out of reach, or otherwise protected from curious kittens (and puppies, too!).
- Closed cabinets are safe cabinets—Whether it’s a kitten looking for a place to snuggle up for a nap, or a puppy following his nose, unsecured cabinets offer a whole host of trouble to be found. Cleaning supplies, trash, medication, and other poisonous items usually seem safe when stowed away, but if the cabinet isn’t securely closed (and ideally, locked), the risk is still real.
Involving the whole family
- Regardless of your child’s age, it’s a good idea to involve them in the responsibility of a family pet. Tailor their responsibilities to their age—younger children can help feed a dog or cat, while older children can help a dog get its daily exercise or clean out a cat litter box. Adult family members should always supervise the pet’s care, make sure that each animal is up to date on their vaccinations, and arrange visits to the veterinarian when necessary.
- Children of all ages should also be taught how to interact with animals, especially if this is the first family pet. Most animals tolerate some poking and prodding, but children should be told how to give each animal the space they desire. There are numerous pet care books written for children, so be sure to find the right one for yours.
In case of emergency
- Always keep your veterinarian’s information handy, as well as the nearest animal hospital and emergency vet service.
- Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) can be reached at 1-888-426-4435.
- Consider purchasing a pet insurance policy provided by Pets Best to protect your new furry family member. Every Pets Best customer has access to a 24/7 pet helpline powered by whiskerDocs®.
Now that the nitty gritty details have been covered, don’t forget one of the most important things you have to do—find the right name for your family member! And congratulations to you and your growing family.