A First-Time Pet Owner’s Handbook

A First-Time Pet Owner’s Handbook

Monday, June 13, 2022

Over the years, pets have turned from a companion to play with to literal family members. They share our good and bad times and bring comfort, warmth and much-needed entertainment and joy to our lives. 

They have been known to ease loneliness and anxiety, and reduce stress and depression in their owners. And if you’re reading this, you must be one of the lucky pet parents, ready to start on a brand new parenting journey. 

Now that you’ve brought a new baby home (and mind you, pets of all ages, sizes and shapes are babies for us), you must be super excited and maybe, a little lost and overwhelmed as well. 

We are here to guide you through the first couple of important steps, and let you take the reign of parenthood. 

Take Time to Build a Relationship

Many new pet parents expect to become best friends with their pets right away. One must remember that pets see the world differently than we do. It takes patience and in some cases, loads of time for your pet to start trusting you. Dogs tend to become friendlier quicker than cats, rabbits or parrots, however, the time taken for your pet to trust you completely depends on a lot of things - including past ownerships, breeds, etc. For example, an adopted pet who has been abused will take more time to warm up to you (these pets deserve more love, attention and patience than most). Similarly, an indie cat or dog will follow different suits as compared to a high quality bred pet like Maincoon, Retrievers, Chihuahuas and Persians. 

Also, remember that some cats are very anti-social and they might never come and cuddle with you, but that does not mean they don’t love you. 

Get their Health in Order

To make sure that the new member is healthy, hearty and safe, it is extremely important for you, as a pet parent to consider the following things - 

  1. Researching a good veterinarian, who is not really excellent at their work, loves pets but also who your pet feels comfortable around. In fact, try and research a few vets prior to your adoption, so that the first thing you can do once you’ve got the baby home, is scheduling a vet visit. Don’t be afraid of checking out a few options to make sure you settle on the one your pet truly trusts. 
  2. The next step is getting their vaccinations in order, along with getting the best flea/tick and heartworm preventatives prescribed. 
  3. Consider microchipping your pets. This will be their permanent identification. In case they’re ever stolen or lost, a microchip will make sure that they’re returned safely to you. Learn more about microchipping here. 
  4. One of the most important and impactful decisions is choosing the correct food for your pet. Mind you, good quality food is not cheap, but it is definitely an investment considering it saves you a lot of future visits to the vet concerning your pet’s health. Our suggestion would be to consult your vet, as well as research on your own about the best available brands in the market around you. Read the ingredient list carefully and opt for the most nutritious option that’s suitable to your pet’s needs such as their allergies, size, breed, activity levels, etc. 

Communicating Your Pet’s Needs

Within the course of the first 3-6 months of getting a new pet, you should have become aware of their mental and physical health and mannerisms. Different pets behave differently, therefore there is no one guidebook on how to tell if your pet is happy, sad, worried or afraid. This is a communication that you have to create between your pet and yourself. Understand your pet’s body language, mood swings, and social interactions to determine their behaviour. 

The key to this is nothing but patience. 

Get Backup Support

There might be some days when you go out of town. Most pets do not require constant attention, therefore it is always better to ask a friend to pet-sit instead of keeping them in pet boarding houses, which are usually unsanitary, restrictive and do not have an overall great environment. In case, there is a boarding house that you absolutely love, check with their other customers on their experience before committing to it. 

Take Responsibility and Accountability

Remember that pets are not toys. Just like human beings, they are not perfect creatures. There will be an unfortunate time when your pet chews up a shoe, or earphone wires, break a vase or dirty your carpets. These setbacks are inevitable and in no way mean that you have failed as a parent, but you should take these opportunities to train your pet, and realise that it is a learning curve. Be strict, but never, ever hit them, no matter how grave the crime. 

Last but not the least, have fun and make memories. Our pets are in our lives for only a few, but we are their entire existence. Spend time with them, play with them and love them unconditionally and they are sure to return the favour ten-fold.