How exciting! You’ve made that heartfelt, sometimes big, decision to adopt or bring another furry face to your household. It’s a very happy time, but somewhere in the midst, you will probably find yourself asking silently (or out loud) “how are my current furballs going to get along with the new one(s)?” Like most things with animals, there’s often a learning curve. And that learning curve can change day to day? Where do they like to sleep? What are their communication habits? How are they in new environments? Sometimes, despite all your research on bringing a new cat or dog into your home with a resident cat or dog, there can still the unanticipated or unexpected reactions. To help make the transition smoother for you, your family, your current fur-children and your new furry family members, we have created this blog with 31 tips to get started off on the right paw.
Introducing a cat to a home with another cat(s):
There is no general scientific rule for what is the best combination of cats in a household. Everyone you ask will probably provide a different answer or opinion on whether males are better with females, males with males, females with females, adults with kittens or even kittens with kittens. What works best for you & your household, might not even be workable for another family. The key underlying factors are cat temperament, socialization and if there are known behavior considerations from the new or current pet. Just because either “fluffy” is super sweet on their own, doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to openly accept “fluffy #2”. This is often due to territory issues, improper introductions, and human tension when things don’t often go as planned. Good news though, it is certainly possible to acclimate cats of all ages to one another. Keep in mind that this introduction can take anywhere from days to weeks to months. The most important suggestion is to do the introduction slowly. Your ultimate goal is to prevent fearful and aggressive behavior amongst the cats. Your patience and understanding will help your cats adjust as well.
As a rescue, one of the first things we recommend is to use hypo-allergenic pet wipes, maybe with a soft natural scent. Wipe all pets in the household down with the wipes. That way the playing field is even for scents.
New cats coming out of foster or shelter situations in communal living will be bringing home the combined smells of all their former friends. Your current fluffy could be terrified after one smell of fluffy#2 who appears as a cat with multiple cat smells.
Place the new cat or kitten in their own room. Make sure they have a supply of food, water, litter, scratching posts and toys. Make it feel like home for them, so they are comfortable.
Feed the resident cat and the new cat on opposite sides of the door so they begin to associate positive actions with each other’s smells.
Scent swapping is a great way to get each cat used to the other cat’s smells. You can either swap their blankets and beds or you can take a washcloth and rub it on the new cat and then place it by the food dish of the resident cat. This is another way to teach them to associate positive actions with the smell of the new friend.
At this point, you can do a short switch of location. This means let the new cat roam around the home (one to two new rooms at a time). While this is happening, keep your resident cat in the private space that has been occupied by the new cat. Do this for a short period of time and then switch them back.
Make sure you are spending quality time with both cats to make sure neither feels forgotten about.
Now, you can slowly prop the door open ever so slightly so they can get a glimpse at each other face to face.
When you let them interact for the first time, some hissing might happen. That is okay and normal. However, if you notice signs of upset and tension such as flattened ears, growling, spitting or crouching, separate them so they can be reassured that they are safe and secure by their humans. Do not pick them up or hold them during the introductions as you could get hurt should someone get frightened.
Reward them with toys and treats for good behavior and also to distract them if they are becoming overstimulated or upset.
Always remember that some cats will never be best friends but if you can get them to peacefully coexist, you have been successful.
The initial meet and greet should be in a neutral location for both dogs. Do not have it in your home. As with all animals, it is important that you let them meet each other slowly and do it very carefully. It is important to note that you should not just throw the two dogs together and let them figure it out on their own. That can backfire and put both dogs at risk.
Make sure they are both on leashes for their initial meet. Keep them approximately 10 feet apart so they get a sense for one another but are not on top of one another. The space between them will reduce the tension.
For future interactions during the introduction, it is important to still have a leash on, but you can leave it dragging so they can walk near each other. Let the two dogs briefly sniff one another and then call them away so that you end all meetings on a positive note.
When it is time to bring your dog home and into your home, let them meet outside in your yard first. Let the resident dog in first and then bring the new dog inside. Keep this interaction short, sweet and positive. If you sense tension or upset, immediately separate them and start the interaction process over.
Even once the introduction is done, it would be suggested to keep them in separate rooms or crates when you are not home to supervise.
Make sure your new dog has their own new toys, bed, food bowls, etc. Your new dog probably already has a routine and their favorites. This will help eliminate any potential territorial disputes because Rover#2 wants Rover#1’s favorite sleeping spot or chew toy.
Share the love. Make sure all furry children get equal love & attention, especially at the start. It’s important for each to feel they have their own special place in the family and are not threatened/intimidated by the new change.
As always, reward good behavior!
Introducing a cat and dog:
When introducing a cat to a dog, you will find some similar suggestions as to acclimating cat to cat or dog to dog. The following tips will hopefully help create a lasting friendship between your pets.
Make sure that your cat has access to a separate room that the dog does not have access to. Make sure the cat also has high areas they can jump to in case they need to escape the dog. This private room should be secure with a door, celling and have all of their necessary supplies.
When introducing a new animal to the home, keep them apart for a few days. You will want to let them adjust to the sounds and smells of the new canine or feline friend before allowing them to meet face-to-face.
Similar to introducing a cat to another cat, you should feed them on opposite sides of the doors, so they associate positivity with the scent of one another.
It is important to try and teach your dogs some simple commands such as sit, down and come so you can stop any concerning behavior.
When it comes time to introduce the pets, introduce them in a common area of the home. Make sure it is not one of their safe spaces. Those spaces should remain safe spaces for each pet.
Initially, keep your dog on a leash so you have control over where the dog goes. Let the cat go around and walk around and sniff the dog.
Do not restrain either pet in your arms as they can get startled and hurt you.
Reward both pets for good, calm, positive behavior and actions.
If you begin to sense tension or stress, try to calmly distract them with a toy or food and redirect their behavior to something else. At this point, put them back in their safe places.
Do this activity daily and try to end each introduction session before either pet gets stressed or angry.
When you are ready to let your dog be loose with the cat, keep the dog on a leash on the floor so if you needed to, you could grab the leash and separate them.
Even after it is going well, you should keep the pets separated when you are not around to supervise the behaviors and interactions.
Most animals love to have the companionship of another animal and the transition is relatively smooth and quick. However, there are times when some animals find it more challenging to acclimate to their new furry family members, and cannot coexist as easily as you had originally hoped. At that point, a trained expert is what you need to help guide you down the path of peace. Have a conversation with your vet or an animal behaviorist/trainer. They will happily be able to shed some additional expert tips, and additional resources, that could help find a solution that works for you and your furry children. The ultimate goal is one big family cohabitating peacefully under one roof. Hopefully as furry best friends, but if not, then in a manner where tolerance and acceptance is just as golden.
Just like humans, a pet’s health can sometimes change in the blink of an eye. New foods, changes in household environment, maturing pets, weather, stress – so many things can affect your pet’s overall well-being at different stages of their lives. The only difference is they cannot tell us when they are hurting or not feeling good. You may notice a change in behavior, eating habits or vocalization but you’re often left guessing what the underlying cause is, or if there is even one. If you ever notice any unusual variation in your pet’s behavior, a phone call to your vet or a vet visit would be suggested. Many vets often state that by the time a pet is showing outward signs of an illness, it sometimes can be too late for effective treatments for some conditions. Be in tune to your animals, they really can show you with subtle behavior changes over time that are out of character.
Many people know to take their pets to the vet in an emergency, but there are many personal and professional opinions on the frequency of taking your pets in for wellness exams and vaccines. For all your pets, especially senior animals, have a conversation with your vet to determine what’s best for your animal(s). Based on your pet’s overall health and medical condition, a detailed conversation with your vet can help you develop a game plan that will work best for your pet(s) & you. This will vary from animal to animal, and with vets as well.
There are no such things as silly questions….you are the voice for your pet. If you don’t understand a new diagnosis or proposed procedure or treatment, ASK QUESTIONS until you are comfortable enough with the information at hand to make an informed decision. You should trust your vet enough to determine what’s absolutely necessary and what’s preventative. Again, ASK if you don’t understand.
So are annual visits necessary if your pet is healthy?
Crazy as it seems, this answer will vary between licensed veterinarians and often within the same practice. Ask your vet directly what is best for your fur children. In general, an annual examination allows your vet to get the full picture of your pet’s health, from their heart to their lungs to their teeth and bone structure. Going annually will provide your vet the opportunity to notice subtle changes from year to year and address concerns as they arise. Catching an illness or disease early can hopefully help extend your pets life and keep them with you as long as possible.
In addition to the general wellness exam, your vet may recommend yearly vaccinations to help prevent against dangerous, potentially fatal diseases and illnesses. Your veterinarian will evaluate your pet’s overall health and medical conditions to determine if they can receive the following vaccinations. In some cases, your vet may determine that your pet is not a candidate to receive a vaccine due to age or underlying medical conditions. It should be noted, that some counties and jurisdictions also require certain vaccines for required pet registrations/licenses. If you are uncertain of your local laws pertaining to owned pets, contact your local government office and inquire. If there are underlying medical conditions that prevent your animals from getting county required vaccines, ask your vet to write a letter on their practice letterhead. This will hopefully help with a medical exemption to county pet licensing rules if your pet falls into this category.
For cats, your vet will recommend if yours should get the following vaccinations:
Rabies (this is offered as a 1 or 3 year). Ask the pros & cons or do your own research to determine what you feel is the best option for your cat.
FVRCP- also known as “distemper” vaccine. Depending on the age of the kitten/cat, this could be a single or a series of boosters over a specific period of time.
For dogs, your vet will recommend which of the following vaccinations are best for your pooch:
If your pet is generally healthy but getting along in years, your vet might also recommend routine bloodwork that can be done to establish a baseline for your pet’s health as they age, or to monitor certain current health concerns or changes.
At the end of the day, your pet is your heart and your family member. They are depending on you to give them the best care they need to stay healthy and well. Do your due diligence and your homework to look into the pros & cons of vaccines, if you have concerns. Remember, there is a big wide world often with so many different opinions even from licensed vets. The best option is to find a vet/practice that you trust and know that you can ask as many questions as you need. It’s your prerogative to get all the answers that give you comfort knowing the decisions you make on behalf of your beloved furballs are the best choice possible.
If you get a new medical diagnosis about your pet’s health, you can always opt for a second opinion. Same for treatments & procedures. Be an educated pet owner. Today, there are so many different options for pet care, from traditional veterinarian practices to holistic approaches incorporating acupuncture, lasers, homeopathy, and more. The right approach is the one you have researched and are most comfortable with.
Just like human medical care, if you choose to skip annual exams and potential vaccines, your pet could be placed at risk. A great vet will not only treat your pet as their own, but take the time to guide you thru the process of pet care.
Pet care can get expensive, and times are a bit challenging for some, which is why some people also try to self-diagnose & avoid going to a vet at all. Maybe pet insurance is a more affordable route for you & your pet. Again, so many options available that require a bit of research on your part. Medical vs Dental or a combination of both – what’s best for you? Like people, there are options involving different deductibles, waiting periods and monthly premiums.
At the end of the day, you are your pet’s voice. Wishing your pet(s) health & happiness in this new year!
If you have questions about your pet’s general health or the need of vaccines, please talk to your vet practitioner for their medical advice and guidance.
Ringing in the New Year can be full of celebrations, love, and lots of fun food and drinks. However, it can also be filled with danger and risks for your furry friends.
Read on for some helpful tips for keeping your pets safe, healthy and happy in the midst of all of the celebrating.
If you have outdoor pets, be sure and bring them inside before the festivities and outdoor fireworks begin. For people with horses or outside animals, make sure they have a safe, secure space to spend the evening while noisy, outside celebrations are going on.
Make sure your pets do have collars on, and with updated ID tags, especially dogs who are often more frightened than their feline counterparts. Take a few minutes to verify your microchip contact info in the event you’ve had recent changes or simply can’t remember. Being prepared for a worse case scenario may just help your pet in the event they do get outside & you’re aren’t able to readily catch them.
Be sure to keep your eye on all alcoholic drinks. The ingestion of alcohol in pets can lead to vomiting, unsteadiness and a drop in blood pressure. In certain cases, it can be fatal. Be sure all alcohol is kept out of reach and never unattended.
Be cautious of noisemakers and fireworks. While these are fun for you, they very well may terrify your pet. Make sure your pet is in a safe area, perhaps a separate room with comfort items and a place to hide. Make sure the pets do not have a way to escape as they may try to run when the noises start. Make sure all doors and windows are securely closed. Keep your pet inside during the noisy celebrations as they could be easily spooked and run.
Animals will often mistake non-edible products as a snack. Immediately clean up all confetti, streamers and other celebratory objects they can accidentally injest. No one wants to start the new year off at an animal hospital!
If you notice your pet developing anxiety, provide them with comforting items, food, water and try and distract them with play or relaxing activities. Some suggest putting the TV, radio or even a fan on to distract from the noise.
If you are having guests, make sure they know you have pets and make them aware to leave them in their quiet space. Even put a PET ZONE sign on the door to the space so guests know exactly where you furry children are. This will help prevent any accidental escapes. It is beneficial to warn your guests not to feed your pets any human food or snacks. Some people may not be aware of the risks of food and alcohol to pets.
In the event your pet does get out, be prepared with food, treats and favorite toys, to coax your frightened animal back in. Take a leash with you because you will want a means to secure them if loud, outside noises are still going on. Often when pets are in a fear-based mode, they are reluctant to even come to their humans. This will especially be the case if fireworks are going off in your area.
We hope that you and your pets have an enjoyable, safe and Happy New Year.
If your pets are anything like our pets, then we know they love treats and mooching your food!
Many human “snacks” can be dangerous to your animals so pet bakeries have opened around the United States as a way to offer delicious, fun treats that are safe for your furry friends. Not only can you get incredibly healthy treats for your dog and cat, but many are incredibly creative as well. Some of these bakeries even offer birthday cakes! Yes, your pet will definitely be the talk of the town!
With the holidays here, we have gathered just a small list of some amazing pet bakeries offering tasty treats both in-person and on-line. Check them out. You will probably find the perfect stocking stuffer for your favorite furball!
But honestly, it doesn’t have to be a special occasion to celebrate your “best friend” with special treats. We’d love to hear your favorites, especially if it’s a fabulous find not on this list. Afterall, good dogs/cats need a favorite source for treats.
Now that Thanksgiving is over & the holiday season is upon us, this is the perfect time for us to go over some important tips to keep your pets safe and healthy.
Your halls will be decked, your tables full of food and your house filled with guests…how can you keep your pets safe with all of this? Read on and find out!
DANGEROUS FOODS FOR YOUR FURRY FRIENDS:
The holidays are filled with delicious food to warm your heart and soul. As much as your pets may beg, please never feed the following treats:
Chocolate or anything containing any amount of chocolate
Dairy Products such as Milk, Cream & Cheese
Bones or carcasses
The artificial sweetener Xylitol
Pets are naturally curious creatures. To ensure they do not pull a sneak attack, keep food away from the corners of the table, make sure all garbage cans are securely closed and never leave any food unattended.
A beautiful plant can liven up your home and brighten a dark day. Did you know that some plants are toxic to your pets? Please check out the list below and “pet-proof” your home by removing these plants, not only in the holiday season but year-round too.
WHAT IS CONSIDERED A DANGEROUS HOLIDAY DECORATION:
For some, having a Christmas tree is a tradition that you will never break. However, a tree can pose some risks for your pets. So, how can you keep them safe while having your beautiful tree protected too?
Make sure your tree is anchored safely to the floor so your excited cat or dog cannot knock it over.
Many will add fertilizer, aspirin, or sugar to the tree water to keep it healthy. DO NOT do this! The water should be 100% pure water and change it often as old water can become a breeding ground for bacterial growth.
All ornaments should be kept out of reach as the broken fragments can cause internal obstructions if ingested.
Finally, all wires should be placed in such a way that they are not exposed to the pets. A live electrical wire can cause shock and severe damage to the mouth if chewed on.
Additional decorations can pose a risk to your canine and feline friends.
If you are using an electrical Menorah, make sure the wires are safely hidden. If you are using candles, you should make sure that they are never left unattended as the pets can knock them over and cause a fire or burn themselves in the process.
Tinsel, yarn and ribbon are attractive to pets, especially cats. They will not understand that they should not ingest this so make sure to never leave it unattended or in areas that they can access. Ingesting these products is dangerous as it can get stuck in their intestines, requiring immediate surgery.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE HOLIDAY GUESTS:
If you happen to have any guests over this holiday season or at any time throughout the year, please read the tips below to ensure your pets stay inside and safe.
It is recommended to keep your pets in a safe room where they cannot sneak out of the door as people go in and out.
Let guests know prior how many pets you have so they are aware.
Make sure that your pet has identifications tags on in case they do get out and get lost. It is also recommended that your pet be microchipped for extra safety measures.
Pets can be easily overwhelmed by noise and company. It is always great to have a separate room or part of the house that the pet can escape to if they want to be alone in the quiet. Make sure this space has a bed and food/water and some comfort items.
We wish you and your pets a wonderful, safe and healthy holiday season and a Happy New Year!