BY ANIMAL DR. AMBER
Parents can relate to their children begging to take home that adorable animal they see in the store window. Bringing a new pet home can be an exciting and memorable time for your family. Animals provide us with companionship and teach children compassion and responsibility. However, parents must research and prepare before adding feathers, scales or fur to their families.
Animal Dr. Amber's offer four steps to successfully bringing a new pet into your family:
1. Pets should be based on your lifestyle
If you live in a one-bedroom apartment with no patio and minimal space, a 100 lb. Great Dane may not be the best choice for you. Maybe start with a goldfish? A pet is a lifelong commitment. You must realistically evaluate your housing, available time, finances and overall obligations. After assessing your lifestyle, you can find a perfect pet to match.
2. Select the right type of pet for your family
Different species and breeds of animals have diverse needs. It is an amazing experience for a family to raise a puppy or kitten. However, parents should be aware that this takes as much commitment as a new human baby! Juvenile animals not only require preventive health care, but also make it necessary for you to baby-proof your home. Older pets can be trained and established as wonderful new family members, but may require specific medical care as they age. Rodents, reptiles and birds are unique pets for small spaces. However, they can require very specific care and your family should investigate their needs before deciding. Lastly, I highly encourage you to save a life by adopting a new pet from your local animal shelter!
3. Family meeting about new addition
It is best to have your whole family in agreement about bringing a new pet into the home. The family should talk about who will be responsible for walking, grooming, training and cleaning up the adorable animal's potty mess. Young children should be taught how to interact with the pet, including gentle touching and waiting to play with the pet until it is finished eating. Puppies should have socialization and training classes. The entire family should attend to learn how to consistently train a new dog. Note to parents: No matter what your children promise you about caring for an animal, you, the parent are ultimately responsible for the care of a new pet. Sometimes you are relied upon during your child's college years to care for the pet. My mom was an expert bunny keeper when I ventured off for an academic summer in South Africa!
4. Prepare your home and other pets
Know where your animal will sleep, eat and live in your home. Prepare space and remove any hazards including toxic plants, wires or cords -- and your favorite shoes, which puppies love to chew on. Introduction to other pets should be a slow process. Dogs should first meet outside the home in a neutral space. Cats and other animals should be introduced through a fence or baby gate placed in the home.
Following these guidelines will help your family have a lifelong relationship with your new pet.
Dr. Amber Anderson has a clinical practice at Point Vicente Animal Hospital in Rancho Palos Verdes. She is a member of the American and California Veterinary Medical associations and American Veterinary Family Practice. See www.animaldramber.com
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