This post was provided to Pet Guardian Angels of America by Noah Rue
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Pets and Families: Preparing for Change
Many people find that having pets makes their families complete, but as your family and your pets age, you’ll need to be prepared to deal with some changes. Large changes, like moving to a new home or bringing home a new baby, are part of life, but they can be difficult for your pets to understand. Luckily, there are plenty of ways that you can help to make these changes easier for your whole family, reducing your pet’s stress and helping them through these times.
Introducing New Pets to Children
One of the first changes your family may experience involves bringing home a new pet and introducing that pet to your children. This introduction can pose some unique challenges, so it’s important that you take some time to prepare for this change.
Start by making sure that you’re choosing the right type of pet for your living situation and for your children. For instance, reptiles can make great pets for kids who live in apartments because they take up minimal space and require a little less attention than more traditional pets, like cats or dogs. Do your research into the type of pet that you’re planning to get, and be sure that you also consider the different temperaments and care needs that different breeds have.
Once you’re ready to bring home your new pet, prepare your home and your kids for your pet’s arrival. You may need to pet-proof or puppy-proof your home, and you should purchase any supplies that you need for your pet ahead of time.
Talk to your kids about the responsibilities you’ll all share in caring for your new pet and give your children pet care jobs that are appropriate for their age. Younger children may be able to help feed or brush a dog or cat each morning or evening, while older children can be responsible for larger tasks like walking the dog or taking the dog out for bathroom breaks during the day.
This is also the time to lay out ground rules for your kids and your pets. These rules can help to keep both your kids and pets safe, and can make this change an easier one. Think about establishing rules such as not allowing your children to walk the dog alone or not disturbing the cat while she’s sleeping.
Introducing Your Pets to a New Baby
As your family grows, you may need to introduce your existing pets to a new baby. Motherhoodleads to many stresses, and the challenge of ensuring that your pets smoothly accept your new baby is just one of those stresses.
To minimize the stress of introducing a pet to a baby, establish a nursery and start training your pets that they aren’t allowed in that room. You may want to brush up on your dog’s obedience training, and you can also carry a baby doll around the house to get your pets over the novelty of you carrying a “baby.”
After your baby is born, send someone home with a blanket that the baby has used to get your pets used to the smell. When it comes to actually making introductions, have plenty of help on hand and make sure that your pets are calm and restrained when you do allow them to meet your baby for the first time. Try to maintain a consistent schedule so that your pets don’t feel left out, and be patient — your pets will get used to the baby with time.
Moving With Pets
Moving to a new home can be highly stressful for pets, so you’ll need to plan out ways to make the transition as smooth as possible. When you pack, pack your pet’s bed, dishes, and toys last. Additionally, try to keep your pets away in a quiet room when the bulk of the packing and moving is taking place.
If you can move some of your items into your new home ahead of time, you can set up a room just for your pet so that some of your furniture, rugs, and smells already exist in this new place. Have your pet’s toys and bed ready to go so that you can unpack them immediately. As your pet gets used to the new home, it may be best to keep them confined to one room so that they can gain confidence and stay safe while you finish moving in the rest of your items.
Caring for Aging Pets
As your pets age, your whole family will start to notice some differences in their energy level and behavior, and you’ll need to make some adjustments to ?care for an aging pet. Senior pets benefit from twice-yearly visits to the vet to monitor their health, and because pets’ metabolism slows down with age, you’ll need to feed your pet a diet that’s lower in calories and fat.
Your pet will probably become less physically active, but finding ways to give your pet brief exercise sessions throughout the day can help to keep them from gaining too much weight. You may want to take your dog for multiple short walks, or encourage your cat to play a few times a day for just a few minutes each session.
Your family will change and evolve over time and the same is true of your pets. With some planning and careful thought about your pets’ needs, you can help your pets through any of the changes and life events that your family may encounter.
Noah Yarnol Rue is always looking where his next trip will take him . When he’s not traveling the world, he’s writing articles on the new things he learns. Noah also enjoys a good meme from time to time. You can find Noah on LinkedIn.