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New Pet

Introducing another pet to the home

Introducing a new pet to a household is a big decision and it’s important to consider how it will affect your current pets. Often a new pet could be a negative rather than a positive change for your current pet. You might think a new puppy will brighten your elderly dog, but it’s possible the puppy could wear your older dog out and actually cause more upset.

Think it through carefully and seek professional advice.

If you do decide to get a new cat or dog, it’s important for both your existing animal and your new pet that you take time to help them both cope with the introduction.

Step by step guide

Environment – before you start, make sure all cats have adequate resources and each dog has their own safe haven in the form of a den:

1. Initial separation

Keep your new pet and current pets in separate but adjoining rooms. Your new pet should be confined to one room and your current pet to the rest of the house.

2. Feeding

Switch your pets’ blankets or toys to help them become accustomed to each other’s smell. With dogs, rub a cloth on one dog and place it under the feed bowl of the other. For cats, rub the face of one cat with a soft cloth and then rub the scent onto the other cat. Don’t put the scent near food in the case of cats as this can cause territorial issues. Remember to do this for both animals to ensure they’re both exposed to the other’s scent.

3. Swap smells

Feed both pets either side of a door so they associate the positive experience of food with the new smells of each other. If both pets are dogs, don’t put the bowls too close initially but gradually move them closer over a few days until they eat calmly together either side of the door. Don’t move cat bowls too close together as they can become territorial. 

4. Swap rooms

Put your current pet in the room where your new pet has been living and let the new pet roam the rest of the house. This provides more opportunity to become familiar with each other’s smells and for the new pet to explore their new surroundings freely.

5. Stop negative interaction

When you start to introduce your pets, do it very slowly and gradually, almost so they don’t notice. Don’t let any fearful or aggressive behaviours become too intense. If this happens, separate them and return to the steps above.

6. Positive reinforcement

If your current pet is a dog, ensure they know basic commands. You can then distract them from the new pet, as well as provide positive reinforcement in the newcomer’s presence, associating them as good. Don’t punish either pet.

7. Give them Zylkene calming supplements

Ensure you’ve started administration early enough i.e. before you bring the new pet home. This applies to both pets, perhaps ask the current keeper of your new pet if they’d mind starting any administration a few days before you’re due to pick them up.

It might be a good idea to keep any dogs on a lead initially, and make sure cats always have a clear escape route to another part of the house. 

Don’t leave the new pets alone together until you are completely happy they are settled.

Other common situations that can be stressful to your dog or cat and where Zylkene can help: