If you’re considering bringing home a new furry friend, we’ve got an essential guide on how to safely introduce dogs and cats. Whether you’re already a multi-pet household or are a first-time foster parent, these tips may come in handy for all members of the family. Everyone should feel comfortable and happy in their home and this includes your pets. For this reason, we sat down with Trupanion veterinarian Dr. Sarah Nold to learn more about how to safely introduce dogs and cats and best practices for a healthy and pet-friendly home.
How to safely introduce dogs and
Steps to take when introducing dogs
No matter how many pets you have, every new pet that comes home with you will be a different experience. Nold breaks down some steps on how to safely introduce dogs and cats for the first time.
“For the first 1-2 weeks, keep your cat isolated in their own room with free access to food, water, and a litter box. Make sure it’s a space that your dog can be kept out of and it will not cause a lot of inconvenience to your family. This also allows them to get used to the smell and sound of each other underneath the door. Then let your cat out with your dog on the leash. Let the cat come to the dog and start the interaction.”
Naturally, these steps may have to be repeated for your pets to become used to one another. Also, it’s a safe way for your pets to interact, get to know one another, and play in a common space.
If this is the first time another dog or cat has been in your home, this may be a new experience for all involved. For example, “your cat may hiss or swat. That is okay, they’re teaching each other boundaries. Also, your dog may bark or jump, just keep a tight grip on the leash. Consider allowing a 30-60 minute time frame for your cat to wander and then put them back in their space,” says Nold.
Your dog or cat may have to get used to another pet being around, especially in their own home. This can be a new learning opportunity for your pet, the new pet, and all family members.
A friendship may take time
Not all dogs and cats will be best friends immediately. It may take time for your pets to warm up to each other and be happy with sharing the home – and that is completely normal. After all, your pet isn’t used to sharing its home or personal space with another furry friend.
There may be a chance that one pet will take to the new friend, while the other needs time. For instance, “if the dog doesn’t react and the cat is okay with the dog, then you’re good. If they’re still having a spicy interaction continue to increase the interaction times until they are together all the time,” states Nold.
A bond takes time to solidify. And just like in humans, friendship is built on trust. In addition, there are many factors like breed, age, and species that may play a role. Consider providing a separate pet-friendly space with beds, crates, and toys to retreat to so they may feel happy while there are learning to interact and adapt to their new family member.
Talk with your veterinarian
If you have any concerns about how to introduce your new puppy or kitten, talk to your veterinarian. Their expertise and guidance can help you with a plan for a safe and healthy introduction. Also, depending on your pet’s breed or age, they may recommend different interaction plans.
A new experience for the entire family
Introducing a new pet to your family may be a big change for everyone. It may take time for all of your family members to become accustomed to a new schedule, system, or training, especially if it’s a new puppy or kitten. By having patience and giving your pets the chance to get to know one another by offering a safe space, chances are they may be best friends in no time.
is a digital content writer and editor for Trupanion. She spends her workday writing for the Trupanion blog. She loves writing about pets, being inspired by pets, and luckily gets to hang out with her rescue dogs all day long. In her free time, she enjoys exploring and traveling with her family. Her work has been featured on the DOGTV blog, KitNipBox blog, Get Your Pet blog, Fansided, among many others.