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Tips for first-time pet owners

Congratulations on the furry addition to your family! As a first-time pet owner, you’ll find your new relationship to be exciting and rewarding. To help ensure a smooth transition and give your pet a happy, healthy life, follow our handy tips for welcoming home your first pet.

Prepare your home

Remove unsafe objects

Before you bring your pet home, it’s important to make sure your space is pet friendly. Start by removing, elevating or locking up any potential hazards like electrical cords, toxic plants and pest control products like ant bait or bug spray. Installing puppy fences at the top and bottom of staircases helps create designated safe areas for your pet to explore.

Keep dangerous foods out of reach

Some foods are dangerous for pets, like grapes, walnuts, candy, chocolate, garlic, onions, chives, avocados, raisins, yeast dough, tea and coffee. Store away these foods to protect your precious puppy or kitty. You should also keep your pet away from fruit cores and pits.

Get the essentials

Be prepared for your pet's big arrival day by having their essential items already in place. Assemble a litter box for cats, a puppy pen for dogs, collars and quality pet food that suits their breed and age.

For more tips on creating a safe environment for your pet, check out our blog containing 12 smart tips to keep your pet safe.

Black and orange cat hugging in front of window with evergreen trees outside.

Image provided by Phillip Hughes, BCAA

Give them time to adjust to their new surroundings

The key to a happy pet home is patience.

Expect a transition period

It's normal for pets to experience anxiety in a new environment. It may take one to two weeks for your furry friend to adjust to their new home. They may demonstrate their anxiety by hiding, crying, or showing a lack of appetite – all common and temporary. Soon, they’ll be loving your home!

Give them space

Set up your puppy or kitty with their own space by restricting their access to one room. Then you can gradually expand your pet’s world to help ease their adjustment.

Meet new people and their companions

You will want to gradually introduce your pet to new people and other animals. Start by inviting over a friend or neighbour with a pet. This helps your new bundle of fluff do its first introductions in its safe place with minimal distractions.

Ride in cars

You’ll no doubt want to take your pet with you to see friends, family and great BC parks. Start slow at first so that the road trips become a good experience and not frightening. Here’s a guide of how to train your puppy for car rides, including essential safety tips like using a crate and making sure their head and paws are inside the car at all times.

Brown and cream coloured Australian Labrador in crate with large brown dog stuffed animal.

Image provided by @our.olliebear

Training and consistency

Create good habits for your pet by:

Establishing a routine

Give them a consistent schedule for when and where they sleep, eat, and play. Dogs, in particular, thrive on routine – meaning there’s less room for mischief!

Potty training

Be patient during the potty-training phase, rewarding their successes with treats and praise. Here’s how to potty train your puppy and how to litter train your kitty.

Teaching commands

Enroll your pooch in a puppy training class, obedience school or consult with a dog trainer for one-on-one basic command training. To find a school and trainer, ask for recommendations from your vet, groomer, dog walker and friends who have dogs. A good trainer will be a part of your dog-support team for years to come.

Enrich their daily lives

It’s important to meet your pet’s physical and mental needs by prioritizing a healthy lifestyle, with things such as:

Daily activities

Engage your puppy with playtime and daily walks (here are some tips on how to protect paws in rain and snow). Give them interactive toys they’ll love like Kongs and scratch poles. These activities promote physical exercise, mental stimulation, strengthen your bond and help your pet with rest, obedience and independence.

Grooming and oral health

Keep on top of your pet’s grooming, cleaning and oral health. Brush your pet's coat, clean their ears and maintain good dental hygiene to ensure their overall health and well-being.

Choose a good vet

Find a veterinarian who will become a partner in your pet’s healthy future. Schedule routine check-ups within the first week of bringing your pet home. Look forward to healthy vet-patient and open up discussions on deworming, parasite prevention and vaccinations.

Protect your furry friend with pet insurance

Invest in your pet's health and well-being with BCAA Pet Insurance. We offer ‘Accident’ and ‘Accident and Illness’ plans with a range of different deductible and coverage limits which cover injuries like broken bones, cut paws and illnesses including cancer. Check out why pet insurance is so important for you and your furry friend.

BCAA Pet Insurance also gives you access to exclusive Blue Ribbon Benefits like:

  • Access to Pet Poison Healthline®, an emergency 24-hour poison control hotline
  • 24/7 emergency support from qualified veterinary technicians with PetHelpFone™
  • $1,000 Emergency Medical Coverage if your pet incurs a life-threatening injury while lost.

Better yet, BCAA Members get 13.5% off pet insurance.* Protect your pet’s health, your peace of mind, and your wallet with BCAA Pet Insurance, in partnership with Pets Plus Us.

Ready to give your pet the best start to a happy and healthy life? Get a quote for BCAA Pet Insurance today at

* BCAA Members receive a preferred rate of 13.5% off. Non-members receive a preferred rate of 9% off
All pet insurance plans have limitations and exclusions. Specific products, features, rates, and discounts may vary by province and territory, eligibility, and are subject to change. Medical Conditions that are noted, symptomatic or diagnosed prior to enrollment, or during a waiting period are pre-existing to Coverage and not eligible for reimbursement. Waiting periods, annual deductible, co-insurance, benefit limits and exclusions may apply. This advertisement is an outline only; policy terms and conditions 'User Guide' will prevail. For all terms and conditions visit:
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