Getting Ready For a New Companion Animal
The day that you bring home a new companion animal is a day you will always remember. Preparing in advance will ensure the day is memorable for all the right reasons! Whether your new companion is a dog, cat, rabbit, or other animal, it’s important to have basic supplies in place, and a plan for how you will meet your new friend’s needs.
Before-The-Arrival Shopping List
- The Bed. Choose bedding appropriate for your new companion’s size and species and designate an area in your home where your companion will sleep. This area may also double as a “quiet place” for your animal to go to during the day when he or she is feeling tired or overwhelmed. This area should be in a quiet, low-traffic place in your home.
- The “Bathroom.” Likewise, designate an area where your animal will go to the bathroom. If you are bringing home a cat, veterinarians recommend two litter boxes for each cat in the home.
- Collar and ID Tags. These are a must for companion animals such as dogs and cats. Even if you do not yet have a name selected for your new companion, pre-order an ID tag with your phone number to be attached to your companion’s collar.
- Crates, Carriers, and Baby-Gates. You will want to have the right supplies to transport your companion animal safely and to keep him or her out of any off-limits areas of your home. (Just be sure that the animal cannot become wedged in between gaps of a baby gate).
- First-Aid Kit. Just as you have a human first aid for the people in your family, build a basic animal first aid kit that includes the number of your local 24-hour animal emergency clinic. Get instructions on how to assemble a first aid kit here.
- Water and Food Bowls. Stainless steel and ceramic bowls are often the most durable and retain the least amount of bacteria. Food. Purchase enough food to give your animal for at least one week.
- Grooming Supplies. Coat brushes, tooth brushes, and nail clippers are all necessary for cats and dogs.
- Toys. To prevent your companion from chewing or scratching on walls, doors, shoes, books, etc., have a selection of species-specific toys that will be just for your new companion.
Before-the-Arrival To Do List
Before bringing home a new companion animal, your highest priority should be to become thoroughly informed about the animal’s species, care regimen, behavior, and basic anatomy. Do not bring the animal home if you harbor doubts about your ability to meet the responsibilities and sacrifices involved in caring for the animal.
- Go through each room to of your residence to identify and remove safety hazards like cords, toxins, or spaces where an animal could become stuck. If possible, crawl on your hands and knees to see your home from an animal’s eye-level.
- Confirm that every member of the household understands and agrees to his or her responsibilities as they relate to caring for the companion animal. These duties may include cleaning the animal’s habitat, taking the animal for walks and to vet appointments, and feeding and bathing the animal.
If children will be sharing animal-related duties, it may be helpful to compose a care schedule.
- Make sure everyone in your household understands the safe way to interact with the companion animal. Children should know to behave calmly around a new dog or cat, particularly in the first few months. Children should never hug, kiss, sit on, lay on, or squeeze a dog or cat or put their face near an animal’s face. Birds and rodents have extremely delicate bones and should always be handled with care and under adult supervision.
- If the new companion animal is a dog or puppy, agree on a humane training method and use words for specific commands consistently. If one family member uses the command, “Sit” and another uses the command, “Sit down,” this can impede training. Make sure everyone in the home understands that the new animal will not be hit, kicked, or smacked. Enlisting the guidance of a qualified obedience trainer is a great place to start.
- Likewise, agree on a set of rules for your new companion and abide by them consistently. Your companion will become confused if one family member allows him/her to lay on the sofa while others do not.
- Schedule a veterinarian appointment for your new companion animal as soon as possible. Even if the animal shows no outward signs of illness, it is important to identify and treat any health problems as early as possible, and establish a preventative care regimen under the guidance of a veterinarian.