Tips and Advice for First-Time Pet Owners

Tips and Advice for First-Time Pet Owners

If you are planning to get a pet for the first time, the excitement, options and concerns over your life-changing decision may seem overwhelming. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to help make the transition smooth for you and your new four-legged friend. It all begins with knowing your current and projected living situation, and fully understanding a pet’s role in your life.

Before you plan, assess

The first question you should ask yourself is, “Why do I want a pet?”  There is no wrong answer to this question. What’s important, however, is that you understand the responsibilities of pet ownership and fully accept how these obligations will change your life.

While assessing your level of obligation, also consider your home. If you are living in an apartment, are pets allowed? If you are adopting a dog, do you have a fenced-in yard? If not, dog ownership will add a lot to your plate. This, added with the need to train a dog or even a cat, may add unexpected stress. After all, it is not always easy to housetrain a pet — kittens tend to learn how a litter box works with minimal training, but puppies are clueless about bathroom etiquette, for example — so you need to plan for all of the extra work and attention your pet will need when you bring him home.

Consider what breed is best

Breed selection is mostly a consideration if you’re becoming a dog parent. When adopting, breed choice will be much more limited, and the humane society you work with may have only an educated guess about a dog’s breed. In general, you can categorize dog breeds into large, athletic and small. A large breed, such as a  labrador retriever, is going to need a lot of exercise, whereas a pug is only going to need a short daily walk. There may be some cat breed considerations, such as the grooming requirements of a long-haired cat versus the easy care of a domestic shorthaired cat.

Insurance or coverage for your pets

Pet insurance is available for your new best friend. It works similar to human insurance where you pay a monthly premium and also get reimbursed following procedures or surgeries. There are new, innovative platforms that involve crowdsourcing and sharing expenses. Eusoh is one of those innovative platforms that presents a new way of protecting pets.

With Eusoh, pet owners can form or join groups (minimum ten). These groups will share expenses such as treatments, procedures and surgeries. And like conventional insurance, you will be reimbursed after paying out-of-pocket. Insurance, both conventional and alternative, should be a forethought when adding a pet to your family because you never know when the unexpected happens.

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Prep your home for your pet

Before bringing your new pet home, prepare your home for the new addition to the family.  For a cat, place a litter box in an area that is easily reachable to him for using and to you for cleaning. Some new cat owners make the mistake of hiding the litter box far away to minimize smell. Control odors by cleaning the box frequently, which is in turn encouraged by keeping the litter box closer to your living space.  Also consider setting up play furniture for your cat, which will give him a perch to lounge on and an appropriate place to scratch.

For a dog, the home prepping may be more elaborate. If you are crate training, make sure to set the crate in a quiet and comfortable part of the home. Avoid placing it in a remote room away from your most-used living spaces, since it will increase the time it takes to let the dog out when you come home and may encourage accidents.  

Besides making a comfortable area for your pet, go through your house and eliminate any potential hazards. Certain houseplants are poisonous to pets. Some dogs like to rummage through anywhere their noses can reach, so move chemicals onto high, out-of-reach shelving and make sure your garbage cans are covered.

Be prepared for pet messes

After your pet is home, you may have to deal with some messes and odors until they are acclimated with your home and fully trained. Pet messes are easier to clean if addressed as soon as they occur. Be sure you have a reliable vacuum on hand to keep up with shedded hair, stray cat litter and other messes. Rather than using air fresheners and sprays to mask the odor of urine, focus on soaking up as much liquid as possible, either with rags or a wet/dry vacuum. Doing so will more effectively neutralize the scent. Once the liquid is removed, clean the area with a homemade vinegar-based solution or an enzyme cleaner, let dry, then spray with a deodorizer, if necessary.

Pet ownership can bring many years of joy and bonding. Make sure that you are ready for the obligation, and take steps to prepare your house for both you and your pet.

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