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Articles and Advice from our Pet Expert

What Every New Pet Parent Needs to Know

The process of getting to know each other, the thought of all the things you’ll do together and the anticipation of how much fun you’ll share – if there’s anything more exciting than bringing home a new furry, finned or feathered friend, I don’t know what it is! 

Through the years, I’ve been fortunate to welcome a number of wonderful cats and dogs (along with some goats and donkeys) into my life and heart. Yet despite being an experienced pet parent, it seems that with each new critter, questions and concerns always arise.

I know I’m not alone in this. I often receive emails asking questions about health, exercise, training and how to prepare for Fluffy or Fido’s arrival. So I decided to compile a list of the five most common questions I get (along with the answers!) to help new adopters get things off on the right paw.

  1. What basic pet supplies should I get?
    For both dogs and cats, you’ll need to have food and water bowls, nutritious food appropriate for their life stage, sturdy toys, a comfy bed, grooming supplies (nail trimmer, brush/comb, shampoo, etc.), a collar, ID tag, and cleaning supplies for pet messes. There are many products on the market that help pet owners keep their homes in tip-top shape. BISSELL Homecare, has an entire line of cleaning supplies and products for pet messes.

    Dog parents should also pick up a leash, waste bags for walks, and a crate or carrier. Kitties will need a scratching post, litter box, litter and a litter scoop. 

  2. What types of pet professionals do I need?
    I always recommend starting to build your pack of go-to pet experts before you ever sign the adoption paperwork. These should include a veterinarian, pet sitter or dog walker, groomer and a dog trainer.

    As soon as you bring your pet home, make an appointment with your veterinarian (even if they’re already fully vetted). This will give your vet a chance to get to know your pet and enter them into the system.

  3. What expenses do I need to be prepared for?
    According to the ASPCA, the average first-year cost of owning a cat is $1,035 and a dog ranges from $1,314 to $1,843. So if you haven’t already, adding a “pet expenses” line to your budget is a smart idea.

    Be sure to include the pet supplies listed above, as well as veterinary care, licenses, training and pet health insurance.
     
  4. How do I housetrain my puppy/dog?
    When it comes to housetraining, most people think of puppies. But even adult dogs may need a refresher course when they move into your home.

    The first rule of housetraining is to never, ever punish your pet for soiling in the house. This will only teach him to go when you’re not looking.

    The second rule is to be patient and consistent. Establish a pottying routine and stick to it. Take him outside at the same times every day and preferably, to the same spot each time. Once he does his business, be generous with the praise, treats and love. Finally, don’t give your pup free reign in the house until you’re sure he’s 100% trained.

  5. What’s the best way to socialize my pet?
    There’s a misconception that socializing means exposing the animal to a lot of different experiences. While this is partially true, the real key is to make sure that each experience is a positive one.

    Start out slowly in controlled environments with small numbers of family and friends. Gradually broaden their horizons by introducing them to different people, places and things, and make sure treats and praise are involved. Always watch their responses and if they start getting stressed or anxious, take them out of the situation and begin again on another day. 

For more ways to live happier and healthier with pets, visit my website, Kristen Levine Pet Living, and hop over to the BISSELL Facebook or Instagram pages for more great pet tips and content.

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Written by:
Kristen Levine, pet living expert

September 8, 2015

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