A Beginner's Guide...by Jessica Brody

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A Beginner’s Guide to Being a Great Pet Parent

- Written by Jessica Brody, author of Our Best Friends


Looking for your first pet? It’s a big decision, with big responsibilities and even bigger rewards. But anyone can be the perfect pet parent with the right plan. Want to know how to keep your new pet happy and healthy? Here’s some advice to help you adjust to life as a pet parent.



Finding the Right Pet for You

There are so many homeless animals in need, so you’re sure to find a pet that suits your lifestyle and preferences at your local shelter or rescue. Take your living arrangements, activity levels, and pet preferences in mind when searching for your new soulmate. Maybe you’d like a cat to keep you cozy at night or a dog to help you feel safe. Make a list of what you’re looking for and then start with a search that will show you adoptable animals in your area.



Prepping Your Home for Pets

If you’re a first-time pet parent, you’ll need to make some adjustments to get your home ready for your new pet. If you plan to let your pet play in the yard, make sure it’s secured to prevent escapes. Look for problems spots in existing fences and make sure it isn’t easy for a dog to dig out of the yard. It’s best to keep cats inside, but add a couple of cat trees to keep them active and happy. It’s also a good idea to check for houseplants that may be poisonous to your new pet, and be sure to place cleaners and food out of reach of curious animals.



Ensuring Your Pet’s Health and Safety

Find a vet and schedule a wellness exam for your new pet. Make sure your furkid is up to date on all shots, and pick up any preventative medications you may need. It’s also a good idea to put together an emergency plan for your pet. Make an animal first-aid kit and keep it with you wherever your pet goes. Be sure their tags are updated, and keep microchip information current. Keep current photos of your pet on file, and always keep contact information available for the closest emergency vet.


Settling Your New Pet Into Their New Life

Animals don’t always do well with change. Your new friend will need time to adjust to you and your new home. Shelter pets may sleep a lot when you bring them home, but they’ll perk up quickly. This is a good time to tackle any problem behavior, such as chewing or accidents in the house. Stay patient, employ proven training methods, and consult with a trainer if you need to address behavioral issues with your new pet.


Being a pet parent will bring joy to your life, but it will also bring challenges. Make sure you are ready for your new role and welcome your new best friend into your life. Enjoy your time and all the unconditional love animals have to offer.