A Dog, a cat and….wait, how many pets does the average family own these days? With the American Veterinary Medical Association reporting that 25 percent of dogs are now considered part of the extended family, it's no surprise that more families are choosing to welcome these furry friends into their homes. Here are some tips to help manage your pet territory so everyone gets along.
A safe pet environment is always important, especially in a multi-pet household. You don't want one of your fur partners to get hurt from something the other did.
To ensure everyone is safe and sound, do a risk assessment. Look for potential hazards in your home that could harm your furry friends. Some common hazards include:
- Make sure your pets have a safe place to play indoors and outdoors, such as an exercise pen or a fenced-in area to keep them away from busy streets and neighbors' yards.
- Crate train! Make your pet’s crate their safe haven. It’s healthy for your pet to associate their crate with safety and rest, not timeout!
- Keep toxic plants out of reach. Common poisonous plants include philodendron, lilies, and mistletoe. Check with the ASPCA's website for a complete list of poisonous plants and flowers.
- Avoid chemicals around the house that can cause intestinal problems or damage their nervous system if ingested by pets, such as antifreeze or rodenticides (mouse poison). ASPCA’s Poison Control resource is a must-have for your bookmarks!
Arrange regularly scheduled vet visits
Prevention is key! You will want to schedule veterinarian visits for all of your pets, not just those that are already ill. Seasonal vet visits are important for all pets, including cats and dogs. Make sure their parasite prevention and vaccinations are up to date. Regular veterinary visits can help you keep track of your pet's weight, check for parasites and other health issues, and get advice on any behavioral issues.
Create a pet budget
If you’re planning on adding another pet to your home, it’s important to think about the financial implications of that choice. Research the costs of veterinary visits, food, toys, and other supplies for your new pet. Some pets require more expensive food or medication than others. In order to ensure your budget is prepared for another pet, make a spreadsheet with an itemized list of all your expenses. Try to put some money aside on a monthly basis in order to save up for any unexpected costs that may arise.
As a GoFetch+ member? Here's how you're saving money: access to interest-free payment plans and 10% cashback on clinic services. If you have more than one pet, only one pet needs to be signed up for a GoFetch+ membership for all your household pets to benefit from 24/7 virtual vet support! The service is great for triaging, advice, and medical recommendations when you can’t get to the clinic.
Allow for quality time
While it's exciting to bring a new pet into your home, you don't want that joy to be at the expense of time with your existing pets. Make sure you're putting in the effort to balance the attention each pet gets from you throughout the day. This can look like anything from making time for play and exercise together, to offering each pet undivided attention one-on-one for a few minutes every day (maybe in their own separate space).
Your pets might also enjoy quality adult-free time together—like when they're both sleeping on their favorite couch or snuggling in their beds while you're at work. Whether it's a cat, dog, rabbit, or some other species of an animal companion, they'll likely start developing their own way of interacting that is separate from the human company over time (especially if it's an adult animal who has lived alone before). Reward with positive reinforcement!
The more thoughtfully you set up and maintain a multi-pet household, the more rewarding and fulfilling life will be with them!
Prepare for emergency situations
- Set up a first aid kit for pets. Check out our First Aid blog post for a step-by-step guide!
- Make sure you have the contact information for the nearest animal hospital, vet clinic, and pet poison control number. Keep a copy of your pet's vaccination records, health history, and microchip number on hand in case you need it
- Keep an updated list of emergency contacts. If something happens to you or another family member, do you have someone who can take care of your furry friends?
- GoFetch+ members can access up to $10k in financing for large bills with Payment Plans! Peace of mind is a click away with options to split their bills into 3- or 6-month payments.
Managing multiple pets can be difficult, but with some planning and work, you can make it manageable.
An important part of any successful pet relationship is the introduction, and it’s best to take it slow! Here are some tips for introducing your new pet:
- Swap scents: You can do this by swapping their beds or blankets with each other (or just putting both blankets on the floor), or by swapping their collars/leashes/toys/food dishes/water bowls. This will help them become familiar with each other's scent and feel less threatened by it.
- Introduce them in separate rooms: Start off with them in separate rooms, so that they don't feel trapped or overwhelmed by their surroundings while they're getting used to each other's presence.
- Slow visual introductions: Once they've been introduced in separate rooms, slowly introduce them visually as well over time.
While managing multiple pets may be a handful, there are many benefits to having more than one furry friend. One of the most important things to consider when bringing a second (or third) pet into the house is how you'll introduce them to your current pet(s). If you currently have a dog, adding another dog might be easier than introducing an entirely different species like a cat or gerbil. However, it's still important that you spend as much time as possible getting everyone used to each other before leaving them alone together! This will ensure everyone's safety (and peace of mind).