Bringing a new fur baby home is a memorable and exciting occasion. For your puppy or kitten, though, it can be a stressful experience, what with a new environment, new smells and the introduction to your other pets or human children. Marycke Ackhurst, pet behaviour expert from Hill’s Pet Nutrition says that all of this can fill your new addition with anxiety.
She suggests that a little bit of preparation before their arrival will help in settling them in and allow them to become accustomed to their new environment quicker. Ackhurst provides the following tips to help pet parents and their pets have a smooth transition and to put in place routines and habits for a happy home for all.
When arriving home, it is important to give your new puppy or kitten some time to settle in – allow them to explore their new environment without too much intervention from yourself or other family members. If you have other pets, wait a little while before introducing them to one another. For kittens, limit their exploration to one room and show them their food bowl, litter tray and bed.
Where your pet will sleep
It is very important to decide where your new pet is going to sleep before they arrive home. Puppies and kittens will see their beds as a safe haven to retreat to when they feel stressed or overwhelmed, especially in the first few weeks after their arrival. A warm, dry, and comfortable bed that is placed out of a draught will create a nice sleeping area. Include something that smells of their mother, litter mates or previous home, like a blanket or toy, and in the beginning placing a hot water bottle under their bedding will provide some additional comfort.
The first year of your puppy and kitten’s life is very important and nutrition plays a vital role in their development. When bringing your new pet home, do not change their diet immediately. Rather, continue to feed them the food they have been fed and slowly introduce the food you have chosen, by adding your chosen new food to their old food and increasing this ratio over a week or so until it is completely swapped out.
Choosing a food that provides all the nutrients for your pet to grow into a healthy adult is of utmost importance. Hill’s puppy and kitten food is specially formulated with a range of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to help your fur baby grow. It also includes omega-3 fatty acids in the form of DHA which enhances brain and eyesight development.
Not to be forgotten is a water bowl that is filled with fresh water throughout the day and is easily accessible. Do not be too alarmed if your puppy is not eating all its food, as this may be due to less competition or the stress of moving to a new home, unless your puppy exhibits other signs of illness.
Mind the adolescents
Puppies become adolescents at around six months and as any parent with a teenager in the house will tell you, they too become wilful, test your limits, and assert their independence. It is important to train through play and to continue to encourage their good behaviour. Bold acts of rebellious courage are to be expected and adolescent chewing can be challenging.
Your puppy may be chewing more at this stage to help ease discomfort caused by their adult teeth erupting or just as part of their discovery and exploration. To help with this, provide your puppy with items he is allowed to chew and try to avoid leaving your puppy in areas where there are valuable or dangerous items that he may chew.
As you train your kitten, remember that rewarding good behaviour works better than shouting. Providing stimulating toys and playing with your kitten while he grows is important to build a relationship and keep them out of mischief. Cats love napping and sleep between 13 to 18 hours a day. To help your kitten sleep through the night, plan playtime right through the day and just before your bedtime.
Unfortunately, our pets can’t tell us when they are not feeling well. Some signs that pet parents can be on the lookout for include a sudden loss of appetite, changes in their behaviour, being lethargic or less interactive, rapid weight loss or gain, unusual lumps or bumps, vomiting, diarrhoea and any problems with their eyes or ears.
One of the most common concerns for new pet parents is when their kitten or puppy shows signs of stress and anxiety. “It is normal for your pet to exhibit signs of this especially in their first few weeks in their new home,” says Ackhurst.
Separation anxiety is also common in puppies, kittens and even adult dogs and cats, so it is important to introduce them to short absences of you not being around to help alleviate this. But remember to not leave them home alone for long periods of time. Ackhurst concludes, “Love and reassurance as with any relationship can help to calm any nerves and make your pet feel safe and secure.”