So, you’ve decided you’re ready to welcome a pet into your home for the first time. Congratulations! Roughly 85 million American families own at least one pet, so it is a rite of passage for most households. Many pet adoption centers require a home visit before the adoption can take place, so you should ask yourself these questions and view this checklist to ensure you and your home are ready.
Depending on whether you’re adopting a playful pup or a purr-fect cat, there are different ways to prepare your home. Check out Freshome.com’s 11-point checklist to find out what you can do to prep for any pet. We also have specifics for cats and dogs.
1. Pet-Proof Your Home
Animals are naturally inquisitive and like to get into different things. You should invest in tightly-closing trash cans and pet food containers to help keep the pets out. Blind cords should be tied up higher to prevent entanglement and electrical cords should be hidden or moved, since puppies and kittens like to chew on them while they are going through the teething phase.
2. Reconsider House Plants
Indoor plants attract pets because they mimic the outdoors, but they can be an extreme health risk. More than 700 plants are toxic to dogs and cats if ingested. Take the time to research if your current plants could be harmful to a new pet and swap them out for plants that are safe. Consider relocating your plants to be out of reach of your pets.
If you want your home to be pet-friendly but don’t want to sacrifice the beauty houseplants bring, you could also try to find pet-friendly plants. While many common houseplants are toxic to cats and dogs, here are some they can chew on all day without incident:
- Air plant
- Christmas cactus
- Some ferns, including the Boston fern and maidenhair fern
- Friendship plant
- Polka dot plant
- Spider plant
- Some succulents, including echeveria, haworthia, and hens and chicks
- Money tree
- Parlor palm
- Some herbs including basil, thyme, and sage
3. Set Up the Pet’s Space
To help your dog or cat feel comfortable in their new home, create a space that is entirely their own. Get a pet bed and consider investing in a crate if you are adopting a dog. Dogs can learn, from proper training, that the crate is a safe space for them. Crate training also helps you by having a secure place for your dog when you’re not home. For a cat or dog, make sure the area is completely set up before bringing the animal into your home.
4. Purchase a Few Toys
Cats and dogs alike usually enjoy playing with a variety of pet toys. You could purchase balls or chew toys for a puppy, or string toys and a scratching post for a cat. Pets explore with their mouths, especially puppies and kittens, so make sure that anything you buy can be bitten, licked, or chewed on. Get a couple of basic toys to see what your pet likes before purchasing more.
5. Stock Up on Supplies
You’re going to need basic pet supplies to get started, including food, dishes, collars, and treats. Cats also need a litter box and litter, and you should get a leash and waste bags for a dog. Once the pet is home and has been named, don’t forget to get an i.d. tag in case your pet gets lost. Approximately 6.5 million companion animals end up in shelters every year, so ensure that your i.d. tag includes the pet’s name, your address, and a contact number so that people can reach you to bring your furry friend home. Consider purchasing training pads or pet spray and cleaning supplies, like spot remover, if you are going to be house or box training.
While preparing to become a pet owner, you should find a vet to take care of your new furry friend and get information about microchipping to help keep your pet safe.
6. Secure Your Home and Yard
Ensure that doors and windows latch properly to minimize the chance of your pets straying from your home. Cats also like to climb curtains and on open window screens, so do some research about cat-proof items you can add to your home. If your dog will have access to the yard during the day, make sure that the fence is in good repair and completely secure. You could also invest in a pet door, either directly installed into a door or wall or a panel that can be added to a sliding door, to make it easier for dogs to go outside while you’re away.
7. Plan for Play Areas
Animals love to play, so it is important to create areas for this. You could get a dog run installed in your yard to allow your pup to run around without having access to the whole yard. Cats are climbers, so purchase a cat condo or climbing shelf to give your cat room to roam.
8. Create Family Ground Rules
Before bringing a pet home, make sure that every member of your family is on the same page. Create rules about where the pets can and can’t go, if they are allowed on the furniture, and where they should be sleeping. It is also important to develop a chore list so that everyone is responsible for caring for and taking care of the new cat or dog.
9. Change Your Air Filters
Animals typically shed pet hair and dander around your home, even despite proper grooming. Before bringing your new pet home, change the air filters for your HVAC system to ensure that they are clear and ready to operate smoothly. While homes without pets should change their filters every six months or so, you should plan to change your filter every 1–3 months once you bring pets home.
10. Protect Outdoor HVAC Units
This is particularly important if you are bringing a dog home for the first time. Dogs mark their territory and urine can corrode the unit or get into the system, making your home smell unpleasant when the air runs. Your dog could also be a digger and potentially damage the system if they scratch or break something. Consider adding a barrier that prevents the dog from getting to the unit but still allows easy access for technician work.
11. Invest in an Air Purifier
If you are still concerned about pet hair and dander in your home, invest in an air purifier specifically designed for homes that have pets. Air purifiers also help if someone in your home suffers from pet allergies.
Follow these simple steps to prepare your home for your first pet.