Whether you live in a pet friendly apartment or you own your home, it’s important to make sure you understand the kind of maintenance that needs to take place as you prepare to adopt your first pet. And there are plenty of pet owners who may need guidance; every year, an estimated 3.2 million shelter animals are adopted, 50/50 between cats and dogs. That’s a lot of animals who need proper care in a home. So, here are a few important home maintenance tips to help you get ready for the responsibility of pet ownership. First pet tips are essential for any animal in your house, especially dogs and cats, which are not confined to tanks or cages.
Clean the Drain After Bath Time
First pet tips start with washing up your furry friend. Drain cleaning is an important part of owning a dog. While cats can groom themselves and don’t typically need to be bathed, dogs do, especially since most dogs will spend some of their time outdoors. Dogs may roll in the mud, get soaked from rainwater or melting snow, get pollen dusted into their fur, or get tangles or burrs in their fur. All of this is unsightly and uncomfortable for the dog to say the least, and at worst, it could be a health issue. Not only should you check your dog for ticks or fleas regularly, but you’ll bathe your canine friend in the bathtub. To make life easier on your plumber and prevent a clogged drain, be diligent about removing loose dog fur during a bathing session. Fill that tub with warm, clean water, and make sure that you’ve bought specialized shampoos meant for dog fur. You can find them at pet shop retailers, and you may also consult the staff there to find the right shampoo, based on your dog’s age, fur length, breed, or other factors. Dogs with long fur, or those that are currently shedding, may release a lot of fur not only across the house, but during a bath.
So, first pet tips include keeping things clean for your sake as well as the dog’s. Your dog won’t mind its fur getting into the carpet or loveseat, but you will, so be on the lookout for that. Vacuums and carpet cleaners can get rid of loose hairs around the house, and if the drains get clogged from dog fur, the time may come for a plumber to help out. Clumps of fur in the drain will cause water to back up, and that is not at all desirable. A plumber may remove one or more pipes, clean them out, and replace them, though it’s better to clean that drain and avoid the whole situation!
Designate a Potty Spot on Your Lawn
Cats use litter boxes, and you can train a kitten or rescued cat to find and use the litter fox for all elimination. But first pet tips for dogs include finding a patch of grass where your dog can relieve itself. Dogs are nearly always let outside to a fenced-off backyard to do this, or they may be on a long tether if there is no fence. Either way, that dog will follow its instincts to relieve itself and then cover its waste. But if your dog isn’t good at covering afterward, and you don’t want messes all over the lawn, try to train your dog to only use a certain part of the lawn. You might select a certain quadrant that is never used anyway, or have the dog do its business around a certain tree. At any rate, the idea is that you know where the dog will and will not relieve itself, so you can avoid stepping on messes.
Protect Your Furniture
Now, let us discuss some first pet tips that apply to both canines and felines. Cats, by nature, are often neater and lower maintenance than dogs, but first pet tips still apply to them. This may be especially true of kittens, or rescued stray cats who are not used to a house and human rules. If you’re not careful, you may end up hiring a cleaning service to get rid of messes or loose fur! Or, you may end up replacing damaged drapes or couch fabric.
How about taking care of cats? Cats have an instinct to scratch on surfaces, often vertical ones, and they will do this on any surface that they can reach. They may choose certain patches of the carpet or a rug, the drapes, the side of your fabric couch or recliner chair, or even a pile of blankets. Cat claws are sharp, and a cat may easily scratch and poke holes into these items, damaging them. If your cat or kitten has a full set of claws, first pet tips advise you to give your cat a better outlet for its scratching needs. Fortunately, pet shop retailers offer scratch posts and boards that cats will like, such as wavy cardboard pieces that sit on the floor. Cat jungle gyms include rods wrapped in rough rope, which a cat will use its claws on. So, once that is in place, you can use a spray bottle to (responsibly) discourage your cat from scratching valuable surfaces. At the same time, encourage your cat to use the intended scratch surface.
What about dog messes? How do they factor into first pet tips? Dogs don’t scratch items as much as cats, but they may chew instead. Dogs will chew whatever they can get their mouths on, especially puppies, and they may end up badly damaging expensive items such as electronic devices. Or, they might even chew an electrical cord and electrocute themselves. Instead, it should be easy to find dog chew toys at any pet shop retailer, which are often made of rubber or plastic, and may be shaped like bones or similar items, or even shaped like bagels. Dogs will also enjoy chewing on dried animal hide or real animal bones, which are also available from pet shops (and taste and feel natural to dogs).
Establish a Regular Cleaning Schedule
First pet tips are all dictated by one simple overall fact: you will spend a lot of time cleaning up after your pet or preparing its food, water, and living space. This may mean setting up a regular schedule for pet care, and some tasks need to be done more often than others. You and any other responsible members of the household can all do this, and act as your pet’s cleaning service. Fresh water should be refilled and provided for cats and dogs on an as-needed basis, and that may be pretty frequent during summer. The same applies for food, but food is given in measured portions so pets do not overeat. And some dogs gobble down their food so fast, they start to choke, so you might choose to spread the dog’s food bits across a wider area and prevent that.
What else needs cleaning? A cat’s litter box will need to be cleaned once per day, or more often in some cases, such as with kittens. Some boxes are self-cleaning, but unless you have one, you’ll use a slotted scoop to remove solid waste and solidified clumps of urine and dispose of them. One suggestion is to dispose of that waste in double-bagged plastic grocery bags. And as mentioned earlier, be ready to clean up pet hairs, especially if your dog or cat has entered its shedding season or if it has long fur. Some breeds are known for shedding often, in fact. You will also vacuum the floor more often than ever, to remove leftover bits of pet food, loose hairs, settled dust from litter boxes, and the like. You might also set up a basket or bin where you place all of the pet’s toys and items, such as chew bones or cat toy balls so they are not tripping hazards. Finally, don’t be afraid to use air freshener sprays to mask cat litter odors or wet dog smells, but be sure that your pet is not exposed too heavily to those substances. Animal noses are stronger and more sensitive than those of people, so a gentle flower scent to you is horribly strong to a dog. Moderate air freshener use carefully.
Research Veterinary Options
You don’t have to wait until your cat or dog is vomiting or limping to find a veterinarian service for its basic care needs. In fact, first pet tips suggest that within days of getting your pet, you ought to locate a regular vet clinic and an animal hospital for your new friend’s needs. You can find them online and visit in person, to evaluate them with your own eyes. Serious emergencies, such as seizures or broken bones or heavy bleeding, will call for an animal hospital. Anything less serious can be handled at a vet clinic, and at these clinics, your pet can also undergo routine examinations. This is especially true for kittens and puppies.
What will a vet look for while examining your pet? The vet will weigh and measure your dog or cat, not to mention look over its ears, eyes, nose, teeth, gums, and claws and paws for any outstanding issues. A pet might have unexpected discharge coming from its nose or eyes, or mites in its ears or plant seeds stuck in its paws. Reddish and inflamed gums may be an issue, not to mention chipped or yellowed teeth. Noxious breath may be a sign of tooth decay, and a vet will be sure to look for that. Overall, a vet will advise the pet’s owner on matters such as the pet’s exercise levels and its diet, and perhaps its grooming, too. The pet may start a medication that is either ingested as a pill or applied directly to its skin. Pets will also get anti-parasite and anti-pest medication that will kill off and deter heartworms and other worm parasites, not to mention drive away ticks and fleas.
When you visit a vet clinic, cats should be brought in a carrying crate, and the same is true of small mammals such as rabbits or hamsters. Birds should be in a cage, and cooperative dogs can be simply on a leash. But if your pet is frightened or aggressive toward other pets or people in the clinic, you might (responsibly) keep your pet in the car until the time comes for your pet to be looked over.
Have a Plan for Traveling
When you travel for business or for leisure, your pet might come along if that works out, such as if you’re visiting a friend who will welcome your pet. But in cases where your pet cannot come along, you’ll need a pet sitter. You might ask a trusted friend, family member, or roommate to look after your cat or dog while you are absent, and give the pet sitter complete instructions on the pet’s feeding, bathing needs, medications, and anything else. In cases where pet sitting is not possible, you may turn to dog kennel services and have your dog watched over while you are away. This can prove quite convenient, and when you return home, simply pick it up again. Also, pet retailers offer advanced, computerized pet food and water dispensers, which can be loaded with a lot of food and water at once in plastic tanks. Then, the device will regularly dispense correct amounts of food and water for dogs or cats, which may suit the pet’s needs for a few days or even a week at a time.
Puppy Proof Your Home
Don’t let your house become a tragic pet memorial because your dog or cat poisoned themselves or got electrocuted! First pet tips say that bringing home a new pet is much like bringing home a new baby: all items and surfaces should be assessed, and adjusted for safety’s sake. As mentioned above, dogs or even cats might chew on frayed electric cords, and wind up electrocuting themselves, so frayed cords should be replaced right away. Cords might also be partially or totally hidden so a pet doesn’t see them, and good chew toys may draw your pet’s attention away from those cords. Check for any loose nails, screws, or staples on surfaces that might poke or stab your pet, especially in the case of adventurous kittens. Also, cats and kittens tend to climb or jump up to very high places, and might not have a safe way back down. Try to block your cat’s access to those very high places somehow, or at least be ready to find your cat there and retrieve it.
Finally, check which sorts of plants are out in the open, and first pet tips are there to protect your pet from poisoning. Some harmless human foods are poisonous to dogs, and some ordinary flowers or house plants are toxic to cats. Be sure to either get rid of those plants or put them somewhere the cat definitely cannot reach.