Published on Wed, 01/13/2010 by Purina

A new year, a new furry friend: 5 tips to caring for four-legged family members

They’re playful, cute, and will steal your heart in an instant. But after the initial excitement subsides, pet owners may feel overwhelmed by the realities of caring for their new family member. The responsibilities of pet ownership are often forgotten in the anticipation of adopting a dog or cat – this could be why, according to veterinarian Dr. Donald B McKeown, one in five puppies is abandoned before the age of two.

The good news is there are many tools available to make the transition easier for the whole family! and are two free, information-rich online resources that provide pet-related help 24 hours a day.

Below are just some of the tips you can find on these websites:

1. Find your best match – Thinking of adopting a puppy? Check out the My Best Match Breed Selector on the website, which takes you through a list of questions to highlight the best breed for you. Questions are as basic as “what size of dog do you prefer?” or as detailed as “how many hours a day will your dog be alone?” After you’ve answered the questions, a list of dogs matching your lifestyle is provided, so you can make an educated choice.
2. Financial planning for your pet – Pet ownership also comes with financial responsibility. Did you know dog food alone can cost puppy owners between $200 and $500 in the first year depending on which breed they adopt? Save yourself the stress of unexpected expenses by creating a financial plan before bringing your new friend home.
3. Puppy Training outside the classroom – After your puppy arrives, make sure to sign up for training and socialization classes. You can also give puppy a leg up with the interactive videos found on which will help you teach him how to properly sit and heel, encourage healthy eating habits and make him comfortable with grooming. Also accessible by smart phone, new owners can train their puppies anytime, anywhere (even at the dog park).
4. Register for rewards – By registering at the or websites, you will receive a free kit loaded with information on puppy and kitten care as well as an adorable pet tag and workbook to help you track your pet’s health. You will also receive e-mails tailored to key stages of your pet’s development during their first year, as well as coupons for a free bag of protein-rich puppy or kitten food and cat box litter.
5. Kittens are teachable too – Kittens don’t need the same training as puppies because they learn by observation, but new kittens can benefit from instruction too! It’s always a good idea to socialize a kitten, and more importantly, make sure they know where to find their kitty litter. You can also teach them to fetch or even how to wave. How cute!

Following these tips will help the joy and excitement of bringing your newest family member home last year-round and for years to come.

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Stephanie Bonk
Environics Communications