New Pet Owner Guide

Top 10 Tips for New Pet Owners

Bringing a dog or cat into your life is not a decision to be made lightly—becoming a pet parent can be incredibly fulfilling, but it’s also a great responsibility. There are so many resources available to help you start your relationship on the right paw, so the doctors and staff at Pewaukee Veterinary Service created the new pet guide below with the most important things all new owners should know:

1. Pets are expensive! Even a “free” puppy or kitten is an investment in a lifetime of veterinary care, food, grooming, toys, bedding, and more. Pet health insurance can help make care more affordable, but make sure you understand your responsibilities.
 
2. You’re going to get to know us quickly. A new pet, particularly a young one, will require several visits to a veterinarian during the first year for a series of vaccinations that help them build immunity to serious illnesses. After that, one or two visits a year for checkups and preventive care may be enough for a healthy dog or cat.
 
3. Pets hide symptoms. Unlike people, dogs and cats don’t complain much and many will continue to greet you with joy and enthusiasm even when they don’t feel well. Don’t let illness gain a foothold or make your pet suffer silently—see your veterinarian as soon as you notice changes in health or behavior.
 
4. Don’t believe everything Dr. Google tells you. It’s common to do an online search for pet health tips or for help identifying symptoms, but this can’t replace a one-on-one visit with a licensed veterinarian—not to mention that much of what’s posted is simply opinion and not based on medical experience or facts.
 
5. Please spay or neuter your pets. Please work with your veterinarian to develop a plan to spay or neuter your pet at a time that will work best for you and your puppy or kitten. There are positives and negatives, depending on the size, breed, and other environmental factors, that should be considered as you decide when this procedure should be completed.
 
6. Tick prevention isn’t just a summer thing. There is not a month of the year that we don’t remove ticks from dogs, so we strongly recommend year-round protection, as well as an annual vaccination for Lyme disease.
 
7. Socialize your pets. It’s important to help your pet—especially a dog—develop a comfort level around other people and animals of all sizes. Start introducing him or her to friends, neighbors, and new situations at a young age, and immediately correct any inappropriate or aggressive behavior.
 
8. Discipline is essential. As pack animals, dogs actually thrive with strong leadership so ask us about obedience classes offered right here at PVS. The time you spend together learning solidifies your bond, and a well-behaved pet will bring you years of joy.
 
9. Easy on the treats. Speaking of discipline, food is a great reward but positive reinforcement, like extra belly rubs, is healthier and just as effective. Exercise is also important for puppies—they are often more focused and trainable after expending some energy on a short walk. Remember that overfeeding pets at any age puts them at risk for heart disease, joint pain, and even diabetes, so put away the extra treats and bring on the love.
 
10. It’s about time. More than anything else, your pet needs attention. Getting a dog or cat requires a commitment to one-on-one time and activity with your pet every day—even if you have to work late or have plans with friends. You should be prepared to adjust your schedule for your furry friend—trust us, it’s time well spent!

If you still have questions or concerns about getting a new dog or cat, check out our online library, videos, or blog. Or just reach out to us—we love sharing our expertise to bring people and pets together for life!