Bringing Rescue Pets Home
As a practicing veterinarian for more than two decades, I’ve worked with many families to integrate a newly adopted rescue pet into their home. Austin Pets Alive! does amazing work training and socializing rescue pets and with a little extra patience and guidance your new companion will be the perfect addition to your family. Here are five things to keep in mind as you bring your rescue animal home for the first time:
1. Be prepared.
Entering a new home can be scary and intimidating for your pet. To provide maximum comfort, make sure you have proper bedding, food and water bowls, toys, a crate for dogs and a litter box for cats. Be sure to show cats the litter box and pups their crate if they begin to show signs of stress.
2. Watch for signs of stress.
Just like humans, animals will show that they are stressed out in many different ways. Cats are prone to hiding or may refuse food or water for a few days or even urinate outside their litter box. Dogs may exhibit a wide range of behaviors from acting overly skittish or alert to acting shy or trying to hide and may also avoid eating or drinking water. If you feel that your pet is acting overly stressed out contact either APA! to speak with someone who is familiar with your new pet’s regular behavior or contact your veterinarian if you think your pet might be sick.
3. Develop a routine.
The faster you develop a routine with your new pet the more comfortable both you and the pet will be with your new living situation. Creating a consistent schedule for eating, exercise and sleeping will make a huge difference.
4. Limit visitors and new places.
The first week will certainly be hectic but it’s also the most important time to bond with your new pet. Before inviting friends or strange new animals over to your house or taking the pet out to overly active new environments (crowded places, dog parks, parties) take the necessary time so you and your pet can get comfortable with each other.
5. Introduce other pets slowly.
Hopefully you were able to introduce other pets before your new friend came home, but sometimes this isn’t the case. If you’re introducing your pets for the first time, introduce them slowly and make sure you are there to supervise and guide them in their introductions. Keep both animals comfortable during initial meetings, keep treats on hand and praise them during positive interactions. It’s important that your pets get along and are not frightened by each other.
Adopting a rescue is one of the most rewarding things you can do. By adopting a rescue animal, you don’t just make a difference in its life and your family’s lives, you make a difference for animals and families all over Austin!
Audrey Wystrach, DVM
Co-founder of ZippiVet Animal Hospital