Bringing another pet home can be a stressful time for your current pet or pets. Making sure that everyone in your home is able to adjust well is key for any animal’s safety.
Most shelters will request or require you to bring your current dog to meet any dog you are considering to adopt. The shelter life of a dog can be very hectic and your potential new dog may be nervous or skittish. Introducing them to your current dog ahead of time is optimal since it allows the dogs to get to know each other before being “shoved” into a home together. Even once they are home, it is recommended to keep both dogs on leashes until you are sure that they get along. When you are not at home, make sure to keep your dogs separated-either in crates or in separate rooms. The dogs may react to each other differently (and poorly) when you’re not around.
As for cats, the slowest introductions typically go better. When you bring your new cat or kitten home, we suggest putting him or her in one room. This will allow the new cat to adjust to that room and allow your current cats to react to the new cat with the safety of a door in between them. Once you’ve completed this step, you can let the old cats into the current cat’s room (without the new cat in it) so that the current cats smell around and you can see how they react. Once this seems okay or if your current cats seem very upset, direct introductions can be done with the new cat in a carrier so that the current cats have no direct contact in case they get aggressive. If they seem to get along okay, you can let them in a room together under supervision. Until you are sure that they will be okay together, we recommend keeping the cats separated while you are not home.
Before any new cat is introduced, make sure it has seen a veterinarian. Feline Leukemia, FIV, and many other contagious parasites or diseases to your current cats. We recommend making sure that the shelter kept up to date on any vaccines, medications, or procedures before introducing any new pet to your current ones.
If you have other species of pets (like ferrets, guinea pigs, birds and more!), here is an article from Veterinary Partner that includes recommendations on how to introduce different-species siblings.
Do you live in a multi-pet home? Let us know how your introductions went in the comments below!