The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on.  ~ Arthur Wilde

Getting Your Home Ready for a New Pet

Prepare your home as if you were getting ready to have a toddler visit: get medications and toxic items put away; secure pantry and cupboard doors and trash can lids; remove knick-knacks, small children’s toys and any items that a tail may swish off a table.

Make your home a safe place for your pets by keeping them away from toxic household items, plants, food, objects and trouble areas.

Some toxic household items are bleach, mothballs, solvents (such as paint thinners), flea and tick products, pest control products (such as slug, snail and ant baith), liquid potpourri and cleaning supplies.

Oleander and Poinsettia are just a few of the plants toxic to pets.

Foods like sugar-free gum, raisins, chocolate, grapes, coffee grounds and others can be fatal.

Sleeping – Your new family member needs to know where they are expected to sleep.  Will they be allowed on your bed or will you provide them a bed on the floor?  Will you crate them at night or put them in a separate room?  Making decisions on this from the beginning is better than trying to undo a behavior that becomes established.

Eating – Assume that your new companion may be interested in food left on the counter.  If you have other pets, start thinking about giving them their own separate space to eat. Placing feeding bowls in a quiet, low-traffic area is ideal.  We recommend feeing twice a day.  Teach children never to touch or approach a pet while he/she is eating.

Housebreaking – “Rubbing their nose in it” is not only is cruel, but they have no idea what you are doing.  They can’t connect that dot. With patience and consistency, your companion will learn the proper place to potty.  There are many resources online for help with housebreaking.  There are also other tools (such as belly bands) that can help.

If your pet escapes, your neighbors will know where he/she belongs.

Some of the items you will want to have on hand when your new pet arrives home are a collar (the ideal type had a martingale feature which prevents them from backing out); leash; identification tag (we prefer plastic ones with etched lettering); comfortable bedding; good quality food; treats for training; a food and water bowl; safe toys; and, a crate.

If you are experiencing issues with your new pet, please re-examine your expectations.  Remember your new pet has been through a lot of changes and is learning what is acceptable in your home.  It will take time and patience to develop new habits and adapt to a new environment.

Also consider that inappropriate behavior may result from the stress of transition.  Some pets will settle down after they realize that your home is their home.  Be understanding as this may take days, weeks or months, depending on the pet and his or her past story – which we rarely know.  Please give your pet many chances to learn before you consider giving up on him or her.

We are always there for pets adoption through The Animal Protectorates because they have a Purple Collar Promise from us for their lifetime.

If you are thinking about rehoming your pet and think your pet may be a fit for our Scholarship Pet Program, please review our requirements and application.

Introducing New Pets To Children And Other Animals In The Home

Teaching children responsible behavior towards all animals sets everyone up for success: never shriek or scream at a pet; respect their need for peace and quiet; never take away a toy; never disturb a pet while they are eating or sleeping; never put your face in a pet’s face; never hit or strike a pet; never pull a pet’s tail, ears or hair; and, above all, let them know to treat pets kindly and gently.

Realize that jealousy or possessiveness may create a conflict.  As pack animals, dogs will naturally decide a pecking order among themselves.  Maintaining control is essential during this process.  Some dogs will not immediately accept a newcomer as one of their own.  Patience is key.  Try to prevent problems rather than trying to solve situations later.  Depending on the dog, the process may take several days or weeks.

Keep both dogs leased for the initial encounters and introduce them on common ground.  Praise any tolerant, friendly, or play behavior.  Keep meetings short and gradually increase time and frequency.  Don’t let them go nose to nose at first.  Allow them to sniff each other nose to rear which is what we call a doggy handshake and is how they initially say hi!

Growling or snapping may occur.  At the first sign of serious aggression, separate the animals; do not reward aggressive behavior; avoid favoritism; provide equal attention and affection.

Provide each dog with his/her own bowl, toys, bed, etc…which reduces the chance of territorial disputes.  If serious fighting occurs or if the dogs do not accept each other within a transitional period of a few weeks, it may be time to seek the guidance of a qualified trainer and support from the shelter, rescue organization or breeder.

Put your cat in a safe place and walk your dog around the house on a leash allowing your dog to “meet” your cat by smell only.  Take the dog for a walk outside and allow the cat to walk around the house to do the same thing. Then have the cat and dog meet at a distance by keeping the dog on a leash and praising the dog for good behavior and giving treats as well.  Let the cat be the one to approach the dog.  Let them get to know each other while the dog is on a leash so you have control.  It make take a few days/weeks/months for your cat to even approach the dog. Always have a safe place for the cat to go to in every room out of reach of the dog.

Don’t try to force an introduction.  Sometimes they are instant friends but normally the warming up phase will happen more slowly.

Make a comfortable transition home for your new cat in a bathroom or other room that will be theirs for a bit and include a litter box, food/water, a soft blanket/bed, toys and a scratch post.  After a few days switch your resident cats bedding with your new cat’s bed.  This is to help familiarize each cat with each others scent.

Feed each cat on opposite sides of the door so they will be near each other but not face to face.  The ideal next step would be to put up a kitty gate…in the doorway so they can be face to face but still separate.  Then, as things progress close doors to the other rooms, containing them in an area and let them explore.

There will usually be some posturing and perhaps a hiss or two but normally the cats will work things out between them.  The key is to give them enough time and space to transition to each other.  Not all cats will be best friends but as long as they can coexist that is okay too.

What If I Lose Or Find A Pet?

Conduct an immediate, thorough and persistent search.

Contact the microchip registry and mark the pet as lost (so if a shelter or veterinary office scans them, they know you are actively looking for your pet).

Check with neighbors and service people.

Post flyers that include a photo throughout your neighborhood, with local veterinarians and pet stores.

Check local animals shelters both within and outside of your immediate area.  Sometimes lost animals travel further than expected (someone may have picked them up and taken them to a shelter near their own neighborhood).  Continue to check shelters daily – some people keep lost pets for a few days, weeks or months before turning them in to a shelter.

Check Facebook, Craig’s List for your pet as well as other sites like Paw Boost and Find Fido.

Post a “lost” ad in the local paper and include a reward.  Describe your pet in simple terms like color, size, breed, gender and distinguishing marks.

Scan the “found” sections of local papers.  Remember that your pet can be described in many ways.

DO NOT GIVE UP – pets have been recovered months even years after being lost.

The majority of lost pets are found close to home, but some have either wandered further away or someone may have intended to help by picking them up, only to take them to a shelter in a different area or released them miles away.

Before taking a pet to the shelter, check to see if the pet has an ID tag with the owner’s contact information. If not, take the animal to be scanned for a microchip (most veterinary offices and shelters have scanners).  If the pet is microchipped, the owner may be able to be tracked down right away.

You can also post photos of the pet on social media such as Next Door and Facebook (both in your area and surrounding areas); check the lost-and-found section both in local newspapers and nearby towns; and, post flyers in the neighborhood, grocery stores, pet stores and veterinary offices.  Be sure that if someone comes forward saying they are the owner that they have photos/documents to prove it.

As a suggested precaution, you may want to put a temporary collar and your contact information on the pet in case he/she gets lost again.

You should also notify the local area shelters because often owners start their search for the missing pet there.  While some shelters have requirements that you bring the pet physically into the shelter, other shelters allow you to send photos that they post on their website while allowing you to keep the pet at your home until the owner is found.

If you do take the pet to the shelter, but would like to adopt the pet if the owners do not reclaim him/her, most shelters will give adoption preference to you.  In this case, you should let the staff know your intention to adopt and additionally call the shelter daily to check on the animal’s welfare.

Keeping Records

When you adopt a pet, you receive important documents which may include a rabies certificate, current vaccination records, a microchip number, and proof of spay/neuter.  Throughout your pet’s lifetime it is good practice to calendar when vaccinations are due and to keep a printout of current vaccinations on hand in once place.  This may also be invaluable in an emergency.  Also take a few photos of your pet because pictures are an important part of the search and recovery process should your pet get lost.

If your pet is lost, their best chance to be reunited with you is if they have an ID tag and a microchip.  We like to use plastic ID tags with etched information because they don’t heat up like metal tags and the etching on plastic doesn’t wear down like on metal tags.

While a microchip is not a tracking device, it is a permanently embedded chip that allows shelters and veterinarians with a special scanner to identify the unique number stored on the chip.  With that information, the microchip registry can be identified and once contacted, they will contact you.

Anytime you move or change your phone number/email, please don’t forget to update your information with the microchip registry.

The times that pets frequently escape are during a move into a new home, a flight response to fireworks on the 4th of July and inattentive guests leaving doors open during a visit.

Most states require all dogs and cats to be vaccinated against rabies between the ages of 4 to 6 months old.

For other licensing requirements, including yearly registration, check with your specific municipality to make sure you are in compliance.

Health Care For Pets

Keeping your pet current on vaccinations keeps them healthy. At a minimum, your pet should always be current on Rabies, Bordetella (the kennel cough vaccination) and Distemper/Parvo.  Other key vaccinations are Leptospirosis, Coronavirus and Canine Influenza – these are especially important if your pet comes into contact with other pets in a boarding facility or romps where wildlife also lives.

A regular topical/oral tick and flea control is important to keep your pet healthy and comfortable.  There are many products available.  Ask your veterinarian which product would be best for your pet.

Examine your pet for ticks and fleas regularly.  If you find them, remove them immediately.  Proper tick removal is important (you-tube is a great resource to see how it’s done).

In order to keep your pet from being a target:  keep grass and bushes trimmed; remove mulch and leaf litter; and, avoid tall grass or brush when walking or hiking.  If you have a tick and/or flea infestation, the environment will need to be treated, including the house, yard, your pet’s bedding, as well as your pet.

Check your pet’s feces frequently for any sign of worms.  Tapeworms resemble trains or rice and are visible to the human eye.  These worms are easily treated by a single dose of medication but other worms can be deadly.  Be sure to consult your veterinarian if you notice any of them.

Heartworms are baby parasitic worms that are transmitted to pets by infected mosquitoes and unlike fleas and ticks, aren’t visible.  After being bitten by an infected mosquito, it takes approximately 6 months for the baby worms to mature into adult heartworms which can live for years in the blood vessels of the heart and lungs of the infected pet – growing in size to 5-12 inches.

Signs of heartworm disease can be a persistent cough, lethargy, decreased appetite, weight loss and a swollen belly, among others.

While treatment is available, it is expensive and heartworm disease can cause lasting damage to a pet’s heart, lung and arteries and can affect the pet’s health and quality of life even after the parasites are gone.

The best prevention is a monthly heartworm prevention and yearly check-ups with your veterinarian which generally includes a heartworm test.

If you go hiking or walking through tall grass be sure to check your pet’s ears, toes and nose for this dry grass.  It is sharp enough to embed itself through the skin and if it travels to the heart or brain – it can be fatal.

Kennel cough is similar to common colds in humans.  It is a bacterial infection that dogs can catch at a shelter, boarding facility, dog park and even a veterinarian’s office.  Symptoms include a hacking cough, discharge from the eyes and nose, lethargy and/or loss of appetite.

Feline upper respiratory is common among cats and kittens in shelters and kennels.  It is spread between cats in the air, by direct contact, or on unwashed hands/objects moving from one cat to the next.  Symptoms include sneezing, nasal discharge, eye discharge, decreased appetite, thirst, or decreased energy level.

Contact your veterinarian if you notice any of these symptoms.  While most pets can recover within a few weeks on their own, prescription antibiotics will help speed recovery.  Severe, untreated cases can develop into pneumonia, so it is important to consult a veterinarian.

Pets rarely complain and are excellent at hiding signs of illness.  Having a routine physical exam with your veterinarian once or twice a year, even when your pet appears to be healthy, allows you to detect a problem in its early stages.

In addition to a thorough physical exam of your pet, a veterinary may also perform a blood test, heartworm test, urinalysis and a fecal exam.

Early detection and treatment of health issues make them more likely to be resolved with less difficulty and expense and give you many more quality years with your pet.

In addition to the societal benefits of preventing accidental litters and reducing the number of unwanted pets ending up at shelters at risk of euthanasia, spaying and neutering has health and behavioral benefits for pets as well.

One of the main health benefits is lowering the risk of cancer (ovarian, uterine, mammary (breast) and prostate.  Behavioral benefits include lowering the desire to roam, mark, hump and fight.

Pet insurance has become more mainstream over the past decade and has also become more affordable – especially when compared to the cost of veterinary bills without a policy.

While pet insurance can give you peace of mind and options, especially in case of an emergency, it is important to understand the annual limits, coverage exclusions, and waiting periods.

Some pet insurance plans also have options to add wellness and routine care coverage.

In additional to pet insurance, there are also companies such as Care Credit that provide veterinary financing in the form of a credit card that can be used again and again for pet procedures.

Dog parks, especially in urban settings, can sometimes be the only option available for your pet to be off leash and running free – and dog owners want that experience for their pets.  That, along with interacting with other dogs to keep them social, make dogs park seem like a great thing – and sometimes they are when coupled with astute and alert owners.

There are plenty of potential risks, however, that you should be aware of:

Behavioral Risks

The potential behavioral issues with other dog park visitors are completely unknown.  If your dog has a traumatic experience, such as being attached by an aggressive dog it could cause your dog to lose confidence and at the other extreme, begin to act aggressive towards other dogs (when he/she never had that response).

Even without an attack, your pet could become nervous in group environments when there are dogs with different and incompatible play styles or herding instincts, which causes your pet to come home absolutely exhausted from the stress of trying to figure out who to interact.

It is important to be on alert when you take your pet to a dog park – supervising not only your own pet, but playing defense if another dog isn’t a compatible playmate.

Health Risks

There are no vaccination monitors present to check the vaccines of every dog entering a dog park – many dog parks do not even have suggested vaccinations posted.  Even if fully vaccinated, an owner may not know or notice symptoms of their dog being sick and inadvertently take them to play at the dog park where they may spread an infection such as kennel cough.  Additionally, dogs visiting from out of the area or out of state may not be showing signs of sickness but actually be contagious with diseases not vaccinated against in your area.

Make sure your pet is up to date on all vaccinations and if you notice a pet coming in to play that seems to be coughing or sneezing, keep your pet away from them (and away from other pets for a few weeks if your pet happens to come into contact with them – prior to you pulling them away – so that your pet doesn’t potentially infect others).


There are ways to have the benefit of group play and socialization in a more controlled environment.  Some options are to form a playgroup with friends and neighbors (and play in one of their fenced yards or choose a time to go to the dog park when it is generally empty) or join a daycare program.  If considering daycare, ask the business questions such as if the dogs are separated by size; who monitors the play groups; staff to dog ratio; and, are there required vaccinations.

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