We have previously discussed the importance of keeping new pets separated from existing pets. Today we will talk about specific tips and strategies for accomplishing that task.
No one will tell you it will be easy. You are facing a usually-short period of about three weeks of dual-householding before your new animals can meet the current residents face-to-face.
Please note that these tips address introduction of animals of the same species. Interspecies transmission of disease is much less likely, though not impossible. Introducing a dog to an all-cat household, or vice-versa, is a somewhat different matter.
Stay focused on the fact that your goal is to prevent your new pet from transmitting disease(s) to the current pet residents of your home. Realize that those disease(s) might not even be evident if they are incubating, which is the earliest stage of an illness before it becomes clinically apparent. Standard techniques apply, the same ones you might use if you had a well child and an ill child. Keep them physically separated. Designate one room for the new pet to live in for the duration. Ideally, you would like at least one room or hallway between the closed doors of each “system.”
Wash and disinfect your hands when entering and exiting each area.
Use separate utensils for each pet: food bowls, water bowls and litter boxes. If more than one pet in the house is taking medicine, do not allow them to share administration devices.
Few acute diseases incubate longer than three weeks, so after a thorough examination by your pet’s doctor, a stool test for intestinal parasites and a Feline Leukemia Virus/Feline Immunodeficiency Virus test for new felines, twenty-one days later the introduction process can begin.
All too often pet owners fail to realize that new pets must be separated from existing ones until they arrive at our hospital with both pets ill. The time and effort you spend in the isolation process can save you and your pets a world of heartache.
Tomorrow we will outline the steps to getting existing pets to like, or at least tolerate, new ones.
See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.