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Introducing a new pet


FOUR PAWS offers tips on successfully choosing a second pet for your family


Introducing another companion animal into your home can be a wonderful experience. However, not every animal will welcome a new addition to the family. To ensure that your pets live together harmoniously, it is important to consider several factors. The choice of a second pet needs careful consideration and shouldn’t be rushed. Choosing an animal with the right temperament is just as important as choosing the right species and breed. And remember, a second pet will mean additional costs, including pet supplies, food, and veterinary care.


The right choice
The choice on whether to take on a second animal should depend primarily on the pet that is already living in the household. The existing pet should certainly take priority. His or her personality, species, age, and gender should provide the basis for choosing the second pet. The temperaments of the two animals should be compatible. For instance, an owner with an elderly dog that needs rest and a quiet environment should be mindful of their current dog's needs and not bring home a puppy who is full of energy and wants to play. In addition, if there is already a dominant pet in the household, the second pet, if of the same species, should not be dominant as well. This can lead to serious rivalry and conflicts. Sometimes it works better to bring in an animal that is a little younger and of the opposite sex, if matching pets from the same species.


The owner should be careful not to pay more attention to the newcomer than to the first pet. That way, the risk of jealousy is minimized. Experts advise that the owner should initially give the original pet more attention than the newcomer. Once both animals have accepted each other the owner’s attention can be shared equally between both animals.


Which animals are compatible?
With the right preparation, animals of different species can also live together successfully. For example, it is possible for some cats and dogs to live together but very carefully introductions are necessary and both species may need their own space to retreat to for safety, while they get used to each other. However, not every animal is able to live with other animals and it very much depends on the species, breed and individual animal, which is why research and careful consideration should be given to introducing another pet.


Where to get your pet
If you decide to bring an additional pet home, the next question is where to get them. A visit to your local animal shelter is always the best option, as here you will save a life and find both young and old animals in need of homes, many of which are only there because the owner moved and/or could no longer take care of them. The staff at the shelter should be familiar with the animals and know their individual personalities and temperament. With the help of shelter staff, you should be able to find a suitable companion for your existing pet resulting in a successful new addition to the family.