November 18, 2013

Why It’s a Good Idea to Get Your Pet a Pal

In honor of National Get a Pal For Your Pet Day (November 19), we’re thrilled to share this special guest blog post authored by pet lifestyle expert, Sandy Robins


When pets are lonely and bored, they get up to mischief! Often that involves destructive behavior around the home as well as of your personal effects such as your favorite shoes or even your iPad…

So if your dog is systemically eating the legs of the dining room chairs, or, your cat is getting into kitchen cupboards and sending plates and dishes crashing to the counter, they are not being deliberately destructive and naughty. Their mischief is simply the result of looking for things to do to keep themselves occupied and alleviate boredom.

It is the responsibility of every pet parent to see that their fur kids are both mentally and physically stimulated. But with all the toys in the world, even battery-operated ones that can be set on a timer, it’s very difficult to keep them totally occupied. Pets thrive on companionship, and, if you are not home all day to provide such company, consider getting a canine or feline pal for your pet.

Apart from taking into account the financial commitment, its also important to research the right pal for your dog or cat.  It’s imperative to take their age into account and see whether they would be better off with a companion of the same age, or a younger friend who will help keep them young. It’s also essential to consider their personality to ascertain whether they will be accepting of a newcomer in the household.

Dogs are more outgoing than cats and are more likely to bond with a new friend much quicker. Cats, if they don’t like each other can get very stressed which can even result in illnesses such as diabetes.  So, if necessary take advice from your veterinarian who knows your pet well and can advise what is best.

It’s usually a good idea to get your pet a same species pal. However, lots of dogs, (depending on their prey drive), love cats and vice versa. If you are sure that this may work in your household, consider a cross-species friend for your incumbent fur kid.

When my elderly calico cat named California passed away at the age of 19, leaving Fudge then aged 12, an only cat in the household, she was very lost and lonely and grieved badly. I was keen to adopt an older cat because shelters struggle to find them good homes.

However, the vet, taking Fudge’s personality into account, advised against it and suggested a young kitten. Ziggy was eight weeks old when we adopted him. He has changed Fudge’s life around. They are inseparable, sleeping and grooming each other and play endlessly, chasing one another around the house.

If you are considering adopting a pal for your pet, it’s crucial to make sure you have time to make proper introductions and ensure that the integration goes smoothly. It’s not simply a matter of bringing home a new pal and saying get on with it!

Behaviorists recommend that they meet by smell first. The way to do this is to confine the newcomer to a room or section of your home to initially get acclimatized. Then start your introduction by taking a pair of socks, rub one sock on the newcomer and one on the incumbent pet. Then swop them around by leaving the newcomer to sniff the incumbent pet’s sock and vice versa. This should be done on several occasions.

When they eventually meet face-to-face, you need to be there. If you are introducing dogs, initially it’s a good idea to have them both on leashes.

Cats are known to growl and hiss and sometimes even swat the new cat. But this is usually part of establishing who is the alpha feline in the household.

Fudge slapped Ziggy around mercilessly in the beginning. And the hissing went on intermittently for nearly three months! Today, they are best friends. And I have peace of mind knowing that if I have to go out, they have each other for company.

The key to success is to let the first meet and greet be short. And do it several more times until you feel that the pets are okay in the same room. However, even if they are getting along, if you have to go out, it may be a good idea to temporarily separate them during your absence.

And be patient. When they get to know each other, you will find it gives new meaning to BFF – best fury friend.

In honor of National Get a Pal For Your Pet Day we are celebrating with an exclusive giveaway for our fans! Click here

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