by Whitney Miller, DMV, MBA, DACVPM
(NAPSI) – Whether you’ve just decided to welcome a new pet into your family or are in the throes of early pet parenting, like all pet parents you may encounter challenges as well as the joy, kindness, and many other rewarding parts of having pets. Dog, cat, bird, fish, reptile or small pet, each animal that comes into your life has unique needs, from grooming and habitat to nutrition, exercise and enrichment. Here are some vet-approved tips to help you navigate every step of the way — from getting ready for Gotcha Day, through early bonding, life stage transitions, and beyond — and fostering the sustainable pet health and well-being.
Do your homework: Help start your pets’ journey off on the right foot by researching what it takes to prioritize their well-being and help them thrive.
• The process can be overwhelming at first, but a Petco Pet Care Center and petco.com are great places to start.
• Research the breed or species of animal to ensure you fully understand the nutrition, exercise, grooming, and habitat requirements, as well as any common behavioral or health issues.
• Identify a trusted veterinarian for initial exams and vaccinations, routine checks and in case of emergency. In fact, having a full team of pet experts, including a veterinarian, trainer and groomer you trust, like those at Petco Pet Care Centers, can help you feel confident at every step.
• No pet parent likes to think about a missing pet, but it’s important to note that there are resources like Petco Love Lost, which help reunite lost pets with their families.
Make your pet feel at home: During this time of transition, focus on creating a safe space where your pet feels safe and relaxed.
• Essential supplies for dogs and cats include a proper bed or crate, food and water bowls, a litter box, and even toys to help them feel comfortable. As a new dog or cat parent, you will also need to ensure that all areas of your home are safe for your pet. For example, secure trash can lids, remove poisonous plants, raise all possible toxins out of reach, and wrap exposed wires with cord covers.
• Fish will need an aquarium with the correct tank, filters and pumps, while reptiles will need a heat lamp, UVB light, tank and accessories. The birds will also need habitat, litter, a perch and toys.
• Set up small animals such as guinea pigs, rabbits, and hamsters to thrive with an escape-proof habitat filled with high-quality bedding, toys, and places to hide.
Schedule game time: Healthy activity, interaction and enrichment are essential for the physical, social and mental health of every pet, but each type of animal will have different needs depending on the species, breed and age. .
• Work with a trusted veterinarian and Petco Pet Care Center to understand what your new pet needs for physically and mentally stimulating productive playtime.
• Enroll in a dog training program that nurtures the bond between pet and parent through positive reinforcement methods.
• Safe socialization with other animals and humans is also essential to maintaining all facets of your new pet’s health, especially for dogs. Slowly introduce your pet to new people and social settings to minimize any stress and ensure the safety of everyone involved.
• Also make sure that you provide enrichment for your pets in their habitat. This is especially important for animals that are not safely socialized or reluctant to be handled. Providing toys, food puzzles, nesting material, and different skins can keep your little pet physically and mentally stimulated.
Get into a routine: To fully integrate your new pet into the family, establishing a routine for daily and long-term care is essential for a full and rewarding life.
• Create a schedule for meals, play and exercise based on your new pet’s needs. Also maintain a regular grooming schedule for your cat, dog or bird to keep the coat or feathers clean, the nails trimmed and the dental care in top shape.
• Schedule routine veterinary checkups to keep your pet informed of preventative care and other medical needs.
• Enroll your dog or cat in Petco’s annual Vital Care Plan to help them feel and feel their best. For just $19.99 per month, you’ll enjoy savings on pet food, litter, pet products and services such as grooming and veterinary exams.
For more tips and resources on a new pet’s overall health journey, visit petco.com/newpet.
• Dr. Miller is the Chief Veterinarian for Petco, The Health + Wellness Co. and a member of the Petco Pet Wellness Council. She earned her DVM and MBA degrees from Colorado State University and has been certified in preventive medicine since 2018.