It is not uncommon to be at the grocery store, in church or at a friend’s house and be told stories about their pets. Recently, I listened to story about a new puppy a friend had acquired at Christmas. The joy of raising a new puppy or kitten to be your constant companion is one of life’s greatest experiences. In a crazy economy, mixed up politics and stressful family lives, pets can actually bring a cohesive and loving touch. So if you want to add a little unconditional love and lots of fun at home, a new pet may just be what the doctor ordered.
There is no doubt that we find the little round heads and big eyes of young puppies and kittens irresistible. Millions of new pets find their ways into our hearts and homes each year. Studies show pets are a very positive addition to families or singles and even empty nesters! Pets relieve stress, add joy and give us love unconditionally.
So a new pup or kitten may be just what you need. Whether you picked out your new friend at a breeder or you’ve rescued a pet in need of a great home, all puppies and kittens have requirements that you must know before bringing them home.
Prepare for day to day needs, like food and playtime, plus the on-going needs, like vaccines and preventive care, and for those unexpected things, like emergency care or behavioral problems.
It’s common sense that puppies and kittens need adequate amounts of food and clean water to grow to their potential. What’s less well known is that your choice of food could have a huge impact on the health of your pet.
It’s easy to become confused by the many brands, flavors, and styles of pet food – all claiming they are best. When looking for a proper diet, please ask the advice of your veterinarian. Also look for companies that make a real effort to help consumers understand our pets’ nutritional needs – and not just sell a slick image or push celebrity endorsements. Remember, some of the best medicine isn’t medicine at all – it is nutrition!
Whether new owners are trying to save money or they were told “all his shots are done”, inadequate preventive care dooms many young animals to suffer some terrible diseases. Feline distemper, canine parvovirus, heartworm disease and severe intestinal parasite infestations are just a few of the serious medical problems seen routinely in veterinary offices.
Your veterinarian will save you money and heartache by providing advice about vaccines and preventive care. Although Internet sites and forums might seem like great places for education, many sites provide poor advice and even wrong information. Your veterinarian will customize an individualized vaccine protocol and give the needed de-worming treatments to keep your pet safe. When it comes to your new pet and your veterinarian – an ounce of prevention REALLY is worth a pound of cure.
Likewise, your pet’s mental/social health is as important as his physical well-being. As Dr. Suzanne Hetts, Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist says, “help your puppy do the right thing. You won’t get the chance to redo or undo behaviors learned during this formative time.”
Behavioral problems are a leading cause for relinquishment and even euthanasia of pets. By spending some time working with your new pet through obedience and socialization classes, you can help prevent life-long issues. Having the right toys and providing plenty of play time with the family is another great way to have a behaviorally healthy pet.
Then, there are always the miscellaneous items you will need: crates to help with housetraining, litter boxes for the kittens, scratching posts, treats, leashes, collars and stain/odor removers for accidents. Today we have great pet super stores where you can find limitless choices of these essential things.
All told, Americans spend about $40 billion dollars each year on their pets. An average family might spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on their dogs and cats each year. Sadly, emergencies and serious illnesses add to this number. Pet insurance and pet health savings plans can help reduce or eliminate some costs, but common sense and responsible ownership will have the greatest impact.
Many people can’t resist the cuteness of a puppy or kitten, but, bringing a new pet home comes with a great deal of responsibility and a little bit of cost. But science and centuries of experiences shows us that animals bring a rare richness to our lives, and this is especially true in stressful times.