New beginnings

Nurturing

QUIET TIME Being quiet, calm and maintaining a tranquil environment will help to minimise your new arrival’s stress.

Tips on caring for a new pet

The Vet's View
Conal Finnerty

Firstly let me start by wishing all Mayo News readers and their pets a happy and most importantly safe and healthy 2021. It certainly has been a tumultuous past 12 months. Let us all hope that 2021 brings some normality back into our lives.
There has been an explosion in new pet ownership of every description in the past 12 months, everything from dogs to cats right through to more exotic and weird and wonderful pets. People have embraced pet ownership as their lifestyles have changed. In the main, this has been a positive trend, but unfortunately there is a dark side. We have seen a dramatic rise too in pet thefts and a dramatic growth in illegal and unscrupulous pet breeding.
The number of new puppies and kittens presenting at our clinics for vaccinations has noticeably increase in since January 1, over and above most other years. The initial few days and weeks of a pet’s new life in there ‘forever home’ can be a joyous time for owners especially children, but it can also be a stressful time for the new arrival, having to deal with a strange environment, strange people, no mother close-by and possibly a new diet, not to mention loads of handling and kisses and cuddles from excited new (small) owners.
This can sometimes be overwhelming and it is not uncommon to see new puppies and kittens present just a few days after moving to their new home with stress and other related ailments, everything from, diarrhoea, vomiting, lethargy, inappetance (not eating) and other conditions simply related to the stress of the big move. Adults should be aware and conscious of the fact that a little animal’s world can sometimes be thrown into chaos by a move away from its mother and siblings to a strange and unfamiliar setting.
Some guidelines to follow in the first few days and weeks can minimise or eliminate these potential problems.
When first getting your new arrival, ask the previous owner/breeder for some of the diet the little creature was fed with, so you can give continuity in terms of feeding, at least for the first while, until the pet settles into a routine. Then, if you wish, you can opt for another brand or flavour of food should you choose to do so.
As hard as it might be to convince little excited hands at home to give the pet time to settle in and adjust, this is vital, so minimal handling and picking up, squeezing and cuddling is a good idea, especially for the first few days.
Loud noises and shouting can be very upsetting for a new pet, so being quiet, calm and maintaining a tranquil environment will also minimise stress. Perhaps giving the new arrival a hot water bottle and a nice soft blanket and a quiet space to retreat to for the first few days is also something to consider.
One mistake new inexperienced owners make quite often is to go down to the new arrival during the night to comfort them if they continue to cry for company. Outside of a distressed cry, ‘normal’ lonely crying should, in the main, be ignored as pandering to the pet will set a precedence for them demanding company on an ongoing basis and the new owners getting no sleep at all.
Creating the right environment and conditions for your new arrival, as well as paying attention to how they are treated in the first few days and weeks, can be the making or breaking of the situation for both new owners and pets. Enjoy them, they are wonderful.

> Veterinarian Conal Finnerty MRCVS practises at the Skeldale Vet Clinic in Ballinrobe and Belmullet. Follow the clinic on Facebook, or call 094 9541980 or 087 9185350 to make an appointment.