Adapting an Adopted Pet to Your Forever Home

Opening your heart and home to an adopted pet is an enriching experience.
Just when you think that you’re fulfilling a homeless pet’s dream of a Forever Home, you realize that it’s you who receives the gift of great love and affection, and the joy of a loyal companion.

When bringing your new family member home, follow these steps for a smooth transition.

Getting off to a Healthy Start

Even though your new pet may arrive with current vaccinations, it’s wise to get a comprehensive physical exam, complete with blood analysis for heartworm and parasites.

Overcrowded conditions that exist in many shelters make for easy transmission of disease that may not be apparent at the time of adoption.

Important first steps to assure pet health include:

  • Comprehensive blood test analyzing red and white blood cells to detect infection
  • Blood chemistry analysis to check liver and kidney values while measuring electrolytes.

These analyses not only help detect disease, but also serve as a baseline for future health exams.

  • Fecal test to help detect intestinal parasites that sap blood and nutrients.This is especially important if your new pet appears malnourished, possible signaling a condition needing treatment.

Also bear in mind that some intestinal and skin parasites can also quickly transmit from your newly adopted pet to those already at home, so it’s best to get your new pet tested.

  • Cats should be tested for leukemia and immunodeficiency viruses. They can also experience upper respiratory disease.  Pay particular attention to sneezing and eye problems in your adopted cat.
  • Dogs can be prone to kennel cough, which may not manifest itself until weeks after adoption. Make sure that any pets at home are current on Bordetella vaccinations prior to introducing your adopted pet.

Adjusting to Home

Take these steps to help in a smooth transition.

  • Make sure that your new family member is microchipped and has a comfortable collar with ID tag.
  • Take special measures to help everybody get to know each other. That includes pets, kids and adults.
  • Get a bag of food that the shelter was feeding your adopted pet, and introduce any new food gradually to avoid stomach upset. Remember, your new addition is most likely already experiencing adjustment stress!
  • Designate a reserved pet space that serves as a secure, quiet area for “alone time”.

Avoid disciplining in this space in order to reinforce it as a protective place.

  • Establish an exercise routine. Exercise and play help erase stress and anxiety, and allow for bonding with your new pet.
  • Shyness, anxiety, restlessness, excitement, crying, barking and poor appetite are all symptoms that should last no more than a few days as your pet grows accustomed to new surroundings.

Taking these steps mixed in with a little patience and extra care will help your new addition make a smooth transition to your Happy Forever Home!

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