5 Things All New Pet Parents Need to Know

Here's how to give your pet a smooth transition from shelter to home

By Rebecca Nye

Rebecca Nye is a licensed veterinary technologist.


There are few experiences that top the joy and excitement of becoming a new pet parent. A furry furrend fills our lives with unconditional love, endless snuggles, uncontrollable laughter and great comfort. Becoming a pet parent is a big responsibility, and it’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed in the beginning. Here are some tips to ensure a smooth transition from shelter to home and help guide you through the early stages of pet ownership. 

Buy All Necessities Ahead of Time

No matter if you are bringing home a dog, cat, guinea pig or other small critter, it’s important to be prepared. The list of necessities will differ among breeds and species. I recommend doing background research on the breed and species you plan to bring home. Be aware that pets require products that meet the needs of their life stage to ensure their health and safety. Take into consideration your pet’s age, size and physical and mental requirements when determining their necessities.

Check out Rover’s New Puppy Checklist, or read Hill’s Comprehensive Guide to Bringing Home a Kitten for helpful examples.

Pet Proof Your Home

Pet proofing your home minimizes the risk of accident occurrence. Remove all potential hazards from your pet’s environment, such as electrical cords and outlets, sharp objects, medications, household cleaners, small and fragile objects, etc. Keep these in a secure, safe place out of your pet’s reach. If unsure what else constitutes a hazard, think of what poses danger to infants and toddlers.

Use America Humane’s Fact Sheet as a guide to reference while pet proofing your home.


Schedule a Veterinary Examination

Scheduling a veterinary examination for your new pet is an absolute must no matter if they came from a shelter, pet store or breeder. There is always a risk of the spread of disease and infection, especially in places where large groups of animals are housed together. A visit to the veterinarian provides invaluable information on your pet’s health status and subsequently protects you against zoonotic diseases (those transmissible to humans). 


Learn more about pet examinations here.


Feed Your Pet a Nutritious Diet

It’s important to feed your pet a complete and balanced diet. Look for a reference to the Association of American Feed Control Officials, which establishes a nutrient profile for pet food that constitutes a “complete and balanced” diet. AAFCO does not regulate or certify pet foods, which is the responsibility of the state feed control; however, pet foods that reference AAFCO increase the validity of their “complete and balanced” claim. Since there is no one food that meets every pets’ specific nutritional needs and requirements, I recommend discussing food options with your veterinarian. A healthy diet will improve your pet’s overall health, and prevention is the best medicine.

For more information on dog nutrition, visit The Canine Health Nut. Nikki Giovanelli is a certified veterinary technician who specializes in canine nutrition. She offers nutrition consultations where she creates home-cooked recipes tailored to your pet’s specific nutritional needs. 

Provide Environmental Enrichment That Meets Your Pet‘s Needs

Environmental enrichment is defined as shaping the environment to meet the physical and psychological needs of your pet through exercise and mental stimulation. Doing so provides your pet with the resources to safely express their instinctual behaviors, some of  which include running, scratching, foraging, hiding, socializing, chewing and retrieving. Providing adequate environmental enrichment decreases destructive behavior, which often results from boredom and/or anxiety. Some examples of environmental enrichment include snuffle mats, ball throws, scratching posts, interactive toys, cat trees, etc.

Read DVM 360 to learn more ways to create a space that meets all your furry friend’s needs.



Just like having a child, becoming a pet parent requires you to change your daily routine to meet your pet’s needs. Species and breed greatly determine the necessary changes that need to be made to provide a high quality of life. Following these tips will make the transition easier as well as serve as a pet care guide. Becoming a pet parent is truly a special, one-of-a-kind experience, and it is totally worth all the necessary life changes. 


Go-To Social Media Sites for New Pet Parents

Informative Pet Accounts

@thehonestvet – Veterinarian 

@drlisalippman – Veterinarian 

@enrichingpaws – Enrichment 

@thedodo – Rescue Stories 

Favorite Fun Furry Friend Accounts

@greatgramsofgary 

@magnusthetherapydog 


Tips From Helpful TikToks

@girlwithedogs – Grooming

@angieandruby – Therapy Dog

@dr.hunterfinn – Veterinarian

Entertaining Pet TikToks

@hammyandolivia 

@harlso

@tikatheiggy

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