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The 2020 Holiday Guide to Your New Puppy or Kitten

Have your kids been begging for a new puppy all year?  Have you been thinking about getting a new pet for yourself for a while?  Maybe you’ve been searching animal shelters and rescues for months looking for the one for you, and you finally made that connection. Maybe you want to surprise your entire family with a new, cute, fluffy member of the family under the tree on Christmas morning.

Regardless of your reason why, the holidays are the most popular time of year to bring a new puppy or kitten into your life, and 2020 is no exception. More and more people find the idea of a new pet in their lives comforting in the midst of everything this year has brought us. But getting a new pet is a big decision with a lot of responsibility attached to it, and there are a few things you should consider and prepare for before bringing a puppy or kitten home for the holidays.

There's a lot to consider when bringing a new puppy or kitten home for Christmas.

Should I get a new puppy or kitten for the holidays?

We get it. Puppies are adorable. Kittens are cute. Who wouldn’t want a new bundle of fur and fluff in their lives? But there are a lot of things to consider — and questions to ask yourself — before you bring a new pet home. 

1. Do I have time for a new puppy or kitten?

While adorable, a new puppy or kitten does have a lot of specific needs that can turn your normal schedule upside down. When you consider getting a new puppy or kitten, you should ask yourself if you have the time to do everything involved in owning a puppy or kitten. Do you have the time to train, socialize, and take your new puppy or kitten to the vet?

It may seem like a lot, but making sure you and your family have the time to take care of a new puppy or kitten is important. It can be tempting to bring a new cute pet home on impulse, but a new pet is a long-term commitment that should be thoroughly considered.

2. Will my new pet be happy in my home?

Maybe you’ve already decided that you definitely want a new pet, but you’re not sure whether a puppy or kitten would be a better fit for you. Take a look at your lifestyle and where you live. Puppies often need a yard where they can run off energy and play, while kittens can be perfectly content staying inside and playing with toys. Kittens often can be easier pets to own if you travel often and need an animal that’s more hands-off. A dog is often more social, and can be the kind of pet you can take on hikes or to restaurant patios.

Does someone in your family have an allergy? Sometimes specific types of dog and cat breeds can be more tolerable to someone with allergies. Do you need a pet that’s more active? Or more of a couch potato? These are all questions to ask yourself before you get a new pet.

It may take some time to do your research on owning a puppy vs. owning a kitten, but it’s time well spent when welcoming a new pet into your home.

3. Should I foster a puppy or kitten before adopting?

If you’ve never owned a puppy or kitten before, or if it’s even been a long time, remind yourself of what that entails before taking it on as a full-time responsibility. 

A lot of animal shelters offer adoption sleepovers where you can bring a new pet home for a few days before making the decision to adopt. Shelters and rescues also need volunteer fosters to care for animals who aren’t quite ready for adoption. This is an excellent way to familiarize yourself and your family with the responsibilities of a puppy or kitten. It’s a service that can really help your local animal shelter or rescue, while giving you the opportunity to see if owning a new puppy or kitten is a step you’re ready to take.

Knowing what vet care a puppy or kitten needs is important before bringing your new pet home!

What vet care and vaccines does a puppy or kitten need?

If you get a new puppy or kitten for the holidays, be prepared to take them to the vet as soon as possible. It’s best to get them started on a wellness and preventative care regime as soon as they’re a part of your family!

According to a study published by the University of Florida, unlike a human baby, kittens aren’t born with antibodies. Other animals are similar, including puppies. To make up for this delay in a strong immune system, it’s important for puppies and kittens to go through a series of vaccines to help prepare them for the world.

Vaccinations for your puppy or kitten often involve multiple trips to the vet clinic. At PetWellClinic, we make this a simple process through our Puppy & Kitten Packages. You can even pre-purchase a package as soon as you know you’re bringing home a new pet for your family. 

What shots does a puppy need?

The series of shots your new puppy will need can seem overwhelming, but that’s why we’ve made it our goal for your new puppy’s health to be simple and convenient with our Puppy Package options. Our basic puppy package is essential to ensuring your puppy’s preventive health.  The basic puppy package includes: 

  • On your first visit:
    • A full physical examination
    • Canine DAPP
    • Fecal test
    • Deworming for hookworms and roundworms

  • Then every three weeks until your puppy has at least two DAPPs given over 12 weeks of age: 
    • A canine DAPP booster
    • Deworming
    • Fecal test

  • On the last two visits:
    • A Leptospirosis vaccination
    • Rabies vaccine
    • Bordetella (kennel cough) vaccine

Our Plus Puppy Package includes everything that the Basic Puppy Package does plus a full physical examination at every puppy plan visit, nail trim and a dose of heartworm preventative. No matter which Puppy Package you choose, we recommend starting the puppy plan at 6-8 weeks of age.

What shots does a kitten need?

As we mentioned above, kittens rely on supplemental and preventive care to boost their new immune systems the way that they need. We’ve designed our Kitten Packages to do all of that and more. Our basic kitten package is essential to ensure your kitten’s preventive health.  The basic kitten package includes:

  • On your first visit: 
    • Full physical examination
    • Feline FVRCP
    • Fecal test
    • Deworming for hookworms and roundworms 

  • Then every three weeks until your kitten has had at least two DAPPs administered over 12 weeks of age:
    • Feline FVRCP booster
    • Deworming and fecal test

  • On the last two visits: 
    • Felv vaccine 
    • Rabies vaccination.  

The Plus Kitten Package includes everything that the Basic Kitten Package does plus a full physical examination at every kitten plan visit, nail trim each time and a dose of heartworm preventative. We also recommend starting the kitten plan at 6-8 weeks of age. 

What supplies do I need for a new puppy or kitten?

Bringing a new puppy or kitten into your home is going to be a lot of fun, but it’s important to have all of the supplies you need before bringing your new furry friend home to stay. Check out our list of essential puppy and kitten supplies below!

  • Pet carrier
    • Confirm how big your new puppy or kitten is before making this purchase. 
    • This is often a good thing to pick up right before bringing your new pet home! It should be big enough that your puppy or kitten can move around freely, but not so big that they could hurt themselves if it accidentally tips or falls over.

  • Puppy or kitten food
    • If you’re adopting your new pet from a shelter, they’ll often send home a sample bag of the food your new pet is used to eating. If you don’t plan on continuing your pet on the same diet, mix a little of the food they’re used to with whatever new food you buy them. 
    • Consult a veterinarian on which food is best for your new pet’s growth and development. Our veterinarians at PetWellClinic are experts in pet health and nutrition and can advise you on which pet food is best for your new four-legged friend when you bring them in for their first exam.

  • Collar, harness, ID Tags, and a leash
    • Again, you’ll need to know the size of your new puppy or kitten before purchasing their collar or harness. They won’t stay their current size forever! 
    • Keep in mind that the collar should be able to grow with your pet. And you’ll want to wait until you know what you plan on naming them before buying an ID tag. 
    • When it comes to leashes, do your research on what kind of leash would work best for the plans you have with your new pet before purchasing one. Different types of leashes will serve a different purpose for you and your new puppy or kitten! And yes, you read that correctly. Your new kitten can be trained to walk on a harness and leash.

  • A new comfy bed for your puppy or kitten
    • The size of the bed should be big enough for your new puppy or kitten to sprawl out and enjoy with a few of their favorite toys. 
    • Wondering about the size, material, and amount of fluff? That’s all up to you.

  • Food and water dishes for your puppy or kitten
    • Your new puppy or kitten will need smaller bowls while they’re still growing rather than the size they will end up using when they’re full grown. 
    • Remember to do your research on whether they need a special kind of water bowl too. Some dog breeds have a bad habit of getting their ears wet in their water bowl, which can lead to nasty infections. However, there are inventive water bowls to help avoid problems like this. There are also special bowls made for dogs (and cats) who tend to eat too quickly
    • You may not know whether some of these special situations apply to your new pet until you bring them home, but it’s always good to think ahead when it comes to owning a pet!

  • Litter box and litter
    • If your new pet is a kitten, set up their litter box with litter already inside before they come home with you. 
    • The wonderful thing about kittens is they often come to you already potty trained. 
    • Set up the litter box in the place it’s going to stay. While kittens can adapt to their litter box being in new places, keeping it one spot can help prevent messy accidents in unwanted places of your house.

  • New toys for your puppy or kitten
    • Toys are the fun part of preparing for your new pet, right? But sometimes walking down the toy aisle at your local pet store can feel overwhelming. There are endless options to occupy and entertain your new puppy or kitten. Sometimes the simple approach is the best approach. 
    • Wand toys, laser pointers, catnip infused mice, and anything that crinkles are great toy options for your new kitten. 
    • Tennis balls, sturdy squeaky toys, and any toy you can hide treats in are wonderful things to have on hand for your new puppy!

Preparing your home for your new pet is exciting and fun. Just remember that spending some quality time with your new puppy or kitten can be just as rewarding as any fancy toy or treat. You should plan on taking some time to get to know your new pet. They’re going to have their own unique personality and way of communicating with you. The more time you take to bond at the beginning of your new relationship, the better you’ll be able to understand each other when walking through behavior and house training.

There's a lot you can do to prepare you home for your new puppy or kitten before Christmas.

How to Create a Smooth Transition When You Bring Home Your New Pet 

When you finally bring your new puppy or kitten back to their forever home, keep in mind that the coming days are going to be filled with big changes for both you and your new pet. They’re coming to a new place filled with unfamiliar sights, smells, sounds, and strange people. Even if you’ve had the time to visit with your new pet before bringing them home, they’ve never lived with you, and that can be a big adjustment for everyone! Below are some tips and tricks to make sure bringing your new pet home can be a smooth transition for everyone involved.

  1. Expect your new puppy or kitten to be a little scared and nervous when you first get home. As we mentioned, they’re going to be taking in a lot of new sensations and may need a few days before they feel like themselves. Give them some time and space to explore their new home.

  2. Set up a safe space for your new puppy or kitten to relax and decompress if they get overwhelmed. Prepare a cozy blanket or bed, some comforting toys, and consider treating the area with calming pheromones for your puppy or kitten to help them feel more relaxed. Make sure that this space isn’t around any loud noises or bright lights. 

  3. Take your new puppy or kitten to meet their veterinarian as soon as you bring them home. If you’ve adopted your new pet from a shelter or rescue, they often provide a certain level of veterinary care in-house before adoption. But it’s always a good idea for your new pet to be seen by the veterinarian they’ll go to now that you’ve added them to your family. At PetWellClinic we offer physical exams to make sure your new pet is healthy, and offer Puppy & Kitten Packages to kickstart their immune system and make sure that you’re ready to go on endless adventures together. 

Whether your new puppy or kitten is a surprise on Christmas morning, or you’re simply adding a new companion to your life, the addition of a puppy or kitten can make the already jolly holiday season even more filled with joy. With a new pet in your life, you can look forward to many cuddle-filled evenings, lots of fun and play, watching them learn new things every day, and being grateful for every moment you get to spend with them in their life. While we can turn around a puppy or kitten’s life for the better, the same can be said of how they affect our lives

We hope this thorough guide to your new puppy or kitten proves to be the start of a wonderful relationship between you and your new four-legged best friend. All of us at PetWellClinic wish you and your new pet a wonderful, happy life together! We can’t wait to meet your new puppy or kitten. 
Are you planning on bringing home a new pet this holiday season? PetWellClinic has multiple locations in East Tennessee that provide convenient, walk-in vet care that’s affordable for you and kind to your pet.

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