8 Essential Steps to Properly Care for a New Pet

Jan 7, 2023Blog Posting

A picture containing kitten and puppy snuggled together, indoor, mammal

Bringing a new pet into your home can be an exciting experience, but it can also come with some challenges. From knowing what kind of food to feed them and how to keep them healthy to providing adequate exercise and stimulation, there’s much to consider when caring for a pet. This guide will cover seven key steps to look after your new companion.

1. Acquire Necessary Supplies

Before you bring your pet home, it is essential to equip yourself with the necessary supplies that they need. Depending on your pet, this may include items like:

  • a bed
  • food bowl and water bowl
  • kennel or enclosure (if needed)
  • litter box
  • toys

Get your supplies in advance so that when they arrive, they immediately feel comfortable in their new environment.

If you have been given a pet as a Christmas gift, you may not have had time to get your supplies in advance. If this is the case, improvise as best you can until you can get the proper supplies. For example, kittens will do fine with a small cardboard box or box lid with litter for a litter box. Newspapers will do for potty training a puppy until you can get some puppy pads.

2. Create a Suitable Environment

Ensuring your pet has a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable environment is essential for their well-being. Provide them with the right type of housing and enough space to roam.

For example, if you get a dog, you should create a secure area that they can play in – this means fencing off your property from nearby roads or paths and sources of potential danger.

We highly recommend you keep cats indoors. Roaming cats can be hit by cars, get in cat fights, and be attacked by dogs or coyotes. If you want them to enjoy the outdoors, catios or cat fences, such as those offered by the Purrfect Fence, are safer solutions. Keeping your pet safe can save you from heartache, and expensive vet bills should your cat have a bad incident while roaming the streets. (KHTS radio has a good video and article regarding coyotes in the Santa Clarita area.)

Cats naturally want to jump, climb, and scratch. If your cat is indoor only, provide them with one or more cat trees to climb and scratching posts.

Part of having a safe environment is ensuring your new pet is not exposed to any poisonous substances or toxic food. Please read our blog MARCH IS POISON PREVENTION MONTH for more details.

3. Introduce New Pets to Resident Pets Slowly

It is safest to introduce a new pet to your resident pets slowly. Pets can react differently to humans than they react to other pets. That soft purring cat in your arms could become a menacing hisser if thrown in suddenly to other pets. Some pets hit it off immediately, while others can take time to warm up to each other.

Play it safe and keep new pets from resident pets until they get used to each other’s smells and presence, like sniffing each other from under a door or through a kennel or cage. Then introduce them slowly and ensure each pet can retreat safely in case either one becomes afraid or antagonistic. Pushing introductions too quickly with any pet can result in an unharmonious household that no one wants.

4. Give Them an Appropriate Diet

Providing your pet with a balanced and nutritious diet is essential to proper pet care.

Before you bring home your new pet, consult the breeder or rescue center regarding the type of food they have previously been eating so you can match their diet as closely as possible. As your pet’s diet requirements may vary depending on their age and breed, monitor them closely and adjust their eating habits accordingly. You can also get advice from us as needed.

Important Note: If you want to change your pet’s food, for example, from dry to canned wet food, change the diet gradually. Sudden changes in a pet’s diet can make them sick. Below is a chart that gives a guideline for transitioning them to a new food. If your pet suffers from severe diarrhea or diarrhea that lasts more than three days, contact us without delay.

chart that gives a guideline for transitioning pets to a new food

5. Provide Adequate Exercise

Exercise is just as crucial for your pet as it is for you! Regular activity helps strengthen muscles while keeping your pet’s bones and joints healthy. Exercise can also help reduce stress levels and keep undesirable behaviors in check. Depending on the type of pet you have, try taking them out at least once a day (if not more) to get their heart rate up. Ensure the environment they exercise in is safe and suitable to their needs..

6. Get Your Pet Microchipped and a Collar ID

Losing a pet is a heart-wrenching experience no one wants to suffer through. Even when you take every precaution you can think of, accidents can happen. A door is not shut correctly, the wind blows it open, and your kitten runs out. You think your dog is safely in their yard, but a serviceman leaves the gate open. Here are some sobering statistics regarding lost pets:

  • Only 48% of dogs and 19% of cats are wearing identification even though recovery of a lost pet requires that the animal is wearing identification.
  • Only 58.1% of microchipped pets were registered with the respective agencies, preventing recoveries.

To guard against losing your companion, get your pet microchipped and get them a collar with an ID tag. If your pet already has a microchip and ID collar, ensure the microchip registration is up to date and in your name, and update the ID with your information. If your pet has not been spayed or neutered, you can get them microchipped at the same appointment for their surgery.

7. Get Your Pet Spayed or Neutered

There are many benefits to getting your pet spayed or neutered. The most obvious one is that it helps to lower the overpopulation of pets, resulting in thousands of animals being euthanized yearly.

Medical Benefits

There are also medical benefits to getting your pet spayed or neutered. Spaying helps prevent malignant or cancerous uterine infections and breast tumors in about 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats. Neutering your male companion prevents testicular cancer and some prostate problems. Your pet gets the best protection if you have it done before your pet’s first heat. You can read our blog, Spaying and Neutering, to learn more about the benefits of this procedure.

Not all exotic pets need to be spayed or neutered. But for some, spaying or neutering them can significantly add to their life expectancy. For example, studies have shown that intact female rabbits have as high of a 65% chance of developing uterine cancer by the age of 4 years.

8. Schedule Your Pets First Wellness Check with Cinema Vet

One of the easiest and least expensive ways to keep your pet healthy is to bring them in for their wellness checks. Dr. Jaimie Ronchetto, Dr. Amber Wheelbarger, and Dr. Samantha Hancock may pick up on a concern early that might otherwise go undiagnosed or untreated.

Preventative health care is the best way to give your pet a healthier, happier life! Our Annual Exam Package includes the wellness exam, a fecal test, and a heartworm test. We recommend both tests yearly to help prevent the spread of disease!

Exotic Pets

Exotic pets include a wide variety of animals, such as:




Sugar Gliders





Guinea pigs



Pot Bellied Pigs

Rats & Mice





While these animals have been around as household pets for some time, they are still exotic pets, each with unique needs. Sadly, their needs are often misunderstood. Some pet owners keep them in tiny cages with little or no attention or care. Parents often purchase them as entertainment for children, but when they are no longer of interest, they are abandoned outside to fend for themselves. The problem of abandonment and euthanasia is particularly acute for rabbits purchased in pet stores, as they tend to be impulse buys, especially on the days before Easter. Fortunately, in California, legislation was passed in 2019 to help prevent this.

So, you can see, the above tips apply to exotic pets too. They need safe environments, slow introductions to household pets, species-appropriate diets, and plenty of attention and exercise.

Final Words

There is a lot to know about bringing home a new pet; no matter how well you prepare, challenges can arise with a new pet you didn’t expect. But we are here to help you keep your pet happy and healthy. Please contact us if you have any questions about your new exotic pet and how to keep it healthy.

Your Friends at
Cinema Veterinary Centre

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