Get Started on the Right Paw With Your New Pet: Here’s How

The pitter-patter of paws through the house just warms the heart. It’s no wonder so many people choose to expand their pet families this time of year. If you’re one of the lucky pet parents that’s bringing home a new pet, we know you may have those ‘new-pet-jitters.’ But we have some tips to help the process go smoothly and safely.

Get ready to fill your home with the love and excitement of a new pet! And follow this how-to for some simple tips to help your new pet settle in and get started by putting his best paw forward.

1. Pick Up the Essentials: The Supplies You Need for a New Pet

Big or small, timid or outgoing, fuzzy or scaly: there are some things you will have to prepare to welcome your new pet home. You don’t have to buy the most expensive toys but the essentials will make those first few days go smoothly.

So what do you need?

Before picking up your pup, rabbit, cat, or bearded dragon, check online for the supplies recommended for the species and breed. If you’re unsure, give us a call to make an appointment for some one-on-one advice and suggestions.

For a new feline friend or canine companion, here are the basics:

A New Dog Will Need

  • A leash
  • A collar with ID tag and harness (especially for little dogs)
  • Poop bags and carrier
  • Treats
  • Food
  • Bowls for water and food
  • Toys
  • A bed
  • A kennel big enough for him to stand in and turn around
  • Grooming supplies: shampoo, brush, toothbrush & toothpaste, water additives
  • Cleaning supplies

Optional, depending on your dog

  • Potty pads
  • A compression shirt
  • Adaptil
  • A baby gate

Tip: Don’t buy a puppy the most expensive collar, leash, or bed. He will likely outgrow it in a few weeks or months and they tend to chew on them.

For Cats, You’ll Need

  • A collar with ID tag
  • Food
  • Treats
  • A bed
  • Catnip
  • A litter & litter box
  • A scratching mat
  • A scratching post
  • Toys
  • A Carrier
  • Grooming Supplies: brush & shampoo, dental supplies

Optional, depending on your cat

  • Feliway, to help your cat feel more at home
  • Feliscratch, to help your cat learn where they should scratch in your home

2. Prepare Your Home: Basic Pet Safety

You’re better safe than sorry. As for most precautions and prevention, a little bit of preparation goes a long way. This is especially true when it comes to keeping your new pet safe. We’ve put together a simple checklist to help you pet-proof your home before you pick up your new pet.

Pet-Proofing Checklist

_Tie up loose wires and strings (remember to check blind pulls)

_Make sure all cleaning supplies, anti-freeze, and other potentially harmful chemicals are locked up and out of paw’s reach

_Store anything breakable that could be bumped or easily fall

_Clean up the floor to make spotting accidents easier

3. Put a Plan In Place

If the kids know you’re picking up a new fuzzy family member, they’re probably thrilled. This makes for a great opportunity to remind them of some ways they can keep your new pet calm as they settle into the family.

Your plan should include

  • Who is going to ride along when you pick up your new pet?
  • Who is going to keep an eye on the pet in their carrier on the ride home?
  • Who will take the puppy out or rush the kitty to the litter box?
  • Who can hold the new pet? And remind the kids about gentle touches and approaching the new pet slowly and calmly from the front.
  • Where will your new pet sleep? Choose a spot that is quiet, dark, and enclosed.

4. Make Your First Vet Appointment With Us

We want to meet your new pet. No, not just because we just love each critter that comes through our doors (although that is definitely true), but establishing care with us is important for your new pet’s health and safety.

If an emergency does occur, it’s easier to get your pet in to see us for an assessment when we have a history with that pet.

You’ll also want a wellness check and to set up a schedule for your pet’s immunizations. Your first appointment is a wonderful time to ask us questions about your new pet’s needs including his diet, exercise, grooming, and general care.

Don’t forget to ask about having your pet microchipped. This will help them find their way home if they sneak out.

5. Is the Car Carrier Ready for Pick Up?

The drive home can make new pet parents very nervous. When your pet can safely ride in a carrier, it can provide you with peace of mind and keep you all safe on the journey home. And once you do arrive at your pet’s new abode, the carrier prevents him from making his great escape.

6. Let Your New Pet Explore With Supervision

Once your pet is safely inside, find a quiet spot and gently set down their carrier. Give them some space and open the carrier. Allow your pet to come out when ready. Never force your new pet out or reach in to grab them since this can make some pets feel cornered and scared.

If your pet lives in a habitat and arrived in a box, set the box in their new home and open the lid. Make sure the lid is on tight and let them explore the enclosure and settle in.

Your pet will explore little by little. Keep your new puppy or cat in one room, only opening the door once they’ve settled into that room.

Keep a watchful eye on your new pet. You don’t want them getting into trouble: tearing up your furniture, not being able to find the litter box, or falling off a countertop.

7. Your New Pet May Need Time to Get Acquainted with Everyone

Bringing a new pet into your family can create an eruption of energy and joy. Just be sure your pet meets once your pet has settled in and they are ready. Asking children to stay seated can help keep the jumps and wiggles to a minimum.

We recommend keeping your new best friend safe and sound at home for the first three days.

When introducing your new pet to your resident pet:

First impressions matter. To help both pets start off on the right paw, give them time and introduce them in a safe way.

For cats, allow them to meet with the safety of a door between them. Wait at least 24 hours until they see each other face to face.

As for dogs, if you can introduce them in an open area that isn’t part of your resident dog’s stomping ground, you’re more likely to have a successful meet-n-greet.

8. Are You Ready for Potty Training?

Potty training takes time. If you’ve adopted an adult pet, your new buddy may not need more than a reminder of where the yard or litter box is. Kittens learn early on how to use the litter box, so there’s not a whole lot of training needed other than placing them in the box.

As for puppies, ready your patience!

Puppies have accidents. It’s just how it is, between their small bladders and the fact that they’re still learning.

You may want to invest in some pee pads for your puppy’s crate or enclosure. Remember to take your puppy outside if they do start to go inside.

9. Prepare to Play and Train Your New Pet

Some puppies and kitties can play for hours at a time. Others tucker out every fifteen to twenty minutes. To help your new puppy or kitty learn and have fun,devote some time every day to play with them.

If you’re adopting a new puppy or dog, we suggest looking into some training class to help your pooch build some confidence, improve your bond, and help them learn some communication skills.

We Hope the Experience of Bringing Home Your New Pet is Paw-sitive

Those first few weeks with a new pet are a lot of work. We’re here for you, though. We want your pet to have a healthy, long, and happy life. If your new buddy needs an appointment, be sure to give us a call.




Image credit: Larissa Barbosa | Pexels

After-Hours Emergencies

After Hours Veterinary Care
1014 Dale Street North
St. Paul, MN 55117
(Inside Como Park Animal Hospital just north of downtown St. Paul)
24-hour care for multiple species

Animal Emergency & Referral Center of MN
1163 Helmo Avenue N
Oakdale, MN 55128


Animal Emergency & Referral Center of MN
1542 7th St. W.
St. Paul, MN 55012
(located 2 blocks east of 35E)