Taking Care of a New Pet in the New Year

We talked prior to the holidays about the wisdom of giving pets as gifts. The answer isn’t a simple yes or no, but must take into the overall context. Does the person you’d gift the pet to even wanting a dog or cat (or other animal)? Do they have the ability to take care of it properly? Of course, people still get and give plenty of pets over the holidays, and hopefully these are being provided with excellent new homes. As we move into the new year, if you’ve received a pet as a gift, you may be wondering how best to┬átake care of it.


Some of the main caring factors are going to heavily rely on exactly what sort of pet you’ve received, as well as other elements such as its current age and health condition. A new puppy is obviously going to need different care than a new-to-you senior dog. Same for kittens and adult cats. But there are certain steps you should take with each new pet in your household.

  1. Make a Visit to the Vet – You’ll want to ensure your new pet is in good health or understand any main health issues their particular breed could face. Vets have a set of tests they can perform to find any warning signs of current or potential problems so you can then decide what steps to take in dealing with them. If they need updated shots or medication, now is also the perfect time to get them on a monthly or annual rotation.
  2. Get Them Neutered/Spayed – Depending on where your new pet was brought from, this may have already been done. Many adoption shelters, for instance, will do this before letting a pet be taken home. But it’s important to double-check, as pet-overpopulation remains a serious issue around the world. Having them spayed or neutered will ensure you aren’t contributing to it further.
  3. Buy a Fitted Collar & ID – Get your pet a collar you picked out for them and also get their name (whether picked by you or former owners) on a tag with your phone number. You want to make sure your pet has the best chance of making it home in case the worst happens and they get lost!
  4. Research! – Hopefully whoever gifted you with the pet did some upfront research of their own, but it’s good to learn some things for yourself. Does your pet breed have any particular dietary or exercise needs? Do they have any certain health issues as they get older? What is their general temperament like? All these things can help you make a more comfortable and loving home environment for them.

Other things you might consider would be checking out local training classes (especially for new puppies), getting an ID chip implanted, and finding the best ways to keep your pet active by taking them on walks or playing in the yard.

What have you done when your home received a new pet? Have you ever been gifted with one you were unprepared for? How did you deal with that unexpected bundle of furry joy?

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