Lucie Marlo, PhD
Spring may bring flowers, but it may also bring litters of puppies and kittens. If you are looking for a companion pet, spring is a good time to find a puppy or kitten at your local animal shelter. Here's how to be caring and considerate when welcoming a new critter into your family.
Spring may bring flowers, but it may also bring litters of puppies and kittens. If you are looking for a companion pet, spring is a good time to find a puppy or kitten at your local animal shelter. Here’s how to be caring and considerate when welcoming a new critter into your family.
A new life begins for a puppy or kitten the day you bring it home. While this transition is gratifying, it can also be challenging, especially for the first few weeks. Your new companion will need your time and patience, which may be difficult to give unless you reduce your
schedule to make time for your new family member.
What to Buy
Dogs are happiest in a structured environment, and consistency is important. Puppies are easier to house-train when they are taken outside on a regular schedule. Buy a crate or kennel to help provide structure for your puppy. Like a playpen, the crate provides a peaceful refuge, helps to set boundaries, and keeps the puppy safe, particularly if you have small children in the house.
If your family is welcoming a kitten, you will need to take a few steps to kitten-proof your house. Secure all exits, move all breakables off easy-to-reach surfaces, and remove all poisonous plants from your home.
You will also need to get supplies such as a litter box, food, dishes, and grooming tools. The well-informed staff of a holistically oriented pet store can help you choose supplies made from safe, nontoxic materials. While you’re shopping, stock up on all the fun stuff, too: scratching posts, climbing equipment, and toys will help keep your kitten occupied. Toys don’t have to be expensive–an enthusiastic kitten will happily play with just about anything. Try a Ping-Pong ball, scrunched paper on a string, or even the light reflected from a hand-held mirror. Involve the children in creating safe toys for your kitten to make the bonding experience a lot of fun.
What to Feed Your New Pet
Choosing what to feed your pet will be easier when you consult a professional. The selection of healthy pet foods has improved significantly in recent years. Raw and home-prepared, high-meat diets have also become more popular. Your pet’s health care provider can help you find a suitable diet for a fast-growing puppy or kitten.
The first few weeks with a new puppy or kitten can often be a time of stress in the home, and pets can be affected by our feelings and actions. Should they show signs of fear or
irritability, relaxing herbs–such as valerian–may help keep them calm for the first couple of weeks during the transition. It is important to remember that pets, being much smaller, need smaller doses than those recommended for humans. Please consult your veterinarian for proper dosage.
Many good books are available on pet care and adoption. Take the time to inform yourself and your family in order to make the adjustment period a great experience while you create a safe and happy home for your new pet.