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Introducing a New Pet to an Old Pet

It is easier to get two young animals to live in harmony as they will grow up together, however with a bit of time and patience (it may take up to 6-7 weeks) a young kitten or puppy can be introduced to an older pet.

Your old pet should be exposed to as many new situations, visitors and pets as possible. This will help them to adapt to any new pets in the house.

If you are getting your new pet from a shelter then you should ask the staff about its behaviour towards other animals; does it have a history of aggression toward other animals?

When your new pet arrives it will be very tempting to spend a great deal of time with it, perhaps at the expense of your old pet. You should lavish praise and attention on your old pet to avoid any jealousy issues, which can occur. When you are dealing with a puppy and an adult dog, you should resist the temptation to be overprotective of the young dog. If the adult reprimands the puppy try not to interfere, this will upset the normal household hierarchy and may lead the older animal to use excess force in the future.

You should allow the old pet to eat and sleep where it always has so there are no territorial problems. The new pet should be given it's own area.

It is best to keep the new pet in a room on it's own for the first couple of weeks (preferably with a wipe clean floor in case of accidents). This will allow the old pet to sniff around the door and get used to the idea that there is something else in the house.

You should not feed the two pets together (you may be able to do this in time) as this can evoke fighting over food; they should also have their own dishes. In a multi-cat household they should each have their own litter tray.

After a couple of weeks you can try swapping the situations over. Let the new pet roam the house for a couple of hours a day and put the old pet in the isolated room, this will allow them both to get used to each other's smell. This stage may take weeks.

Next, you are ready to let the pets see each other. Either you can use a technique such as a baby gate (although if you are introducing cats or large dogs they may leap over this) or you can try putting the new pet into a carrier cage and let the old pet sniff around it (you should never leave the pets unattended like this). Alternatively, if there are two of you, one person can hold the old pet and one can hold the new pet.

Once you are happy with the last stage the two pets can be allowed free to interact with each other. If the animals begin to fight this can indicate that the introduction is proceeding too quickly and you should go back a stage before trying again. If a fight occurs, the animals should be left to fully relax again before further contact between them is attempted.

Never leave your pets alone together until you are confident that they will not fight in your absence.

Ceva Animal Health Ltd produce a DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) diffuser, which release pheromones (similar to those released by the mother to her puppies), which help to relieve stress.
They also produce a Feliway diffuser for stress in cats, both of these may help when introducing new pets. The DAP and Feliway diffuser can be obtained through your vet or by contacting Ceva Animal Health Ltd on 01494 781510
Dogs - This article has been reproduced courtesy of Burns Pet Nutrition

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