Taking Your New Friend Home




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Taking Your New Friend Home

Pet-Proof Your Home | Monitor Your Pet's Health | Emergency Hospitals | Crating

Adjustment Time | Dos and Don'ts | Disaster Preparedness

Pet-proofing your home can save a life!

Kitchens, bathroom and laundry room

Use childproof latches to keep curious muzzles and little paws from prying open cabinets.

Keep medications, cleaners, chemicals and laundry supplies behind doors.

Keep food out of reach. (Even if the food isn't harmful, the wrapper could be.) Some foods, like chocolate and artificial sweeteners, can be toxic and possibly fatal to dogs and cats.

Keep trash cans covered or inside a latched cabinet.

Keep toilet lids closed to prevent drowning.

Make sure tiny pups or kittens haven't jumped into the washer or dryer before you turn it on.

Check for and block any small spaces, nooks or holes inside cabinetry or behind washer/dryer units.

Living/family room

Keep dangling wires from lamps, electronics and phones covered, fastened down or up and out of reach. Your new pet might chew on the cords (possibly starting a fire or electrocuting himself) or pull the appliance over on top of him.

Keep children's toys put away, especially games and models with small parts.

Some houseplants are poisonous to animals, so move plants out of reach. Consider hanging baskets, but be aware of any "jumping-off" spots, like counters, that your kitten might use to reach them.

Check all those places where your vacuum cleaner doesn't fit, but your puppy or kitten does, for dangerous items like coins, pens and pins.

Put away all sewing and craft notions, especially needles and thread.

Make sure all heating/air vents have a tight-fitting cover.

Put away knick-knacks until your kitten has the coordination not to knock them over or has learned to stay off of those areas.


Move all chemicals to high shelves or behind secure doors.

Clean up all antifreeze from the floor and driveway. Just one lick of most brands of antifreeze can be lethal, almost instantly, to your pet.

Keep fishhooks and other sharp objects and tools out of reach.

Check under your car hood to ensure that your kitten (or any neighborhood cats) has not hidden in the engine for warmth.

Always keep Kitty inside, protected from dogs, cars and others who might not love her as much as you do.

Keep Fido on a leash. Even the best-behaved dogs can temporarily forget their training when a squirrel runs out into the street.


Keep laundry, pantyhose and shoes behind closed doors because drawstrings and buttons can be swallowed.

Keep any medications, lotions or cosmetics off accessible surfaces like the bedside table which can be reached by jumping on the bed.

Move wires out of reach of chewing.

Be careful that you don't close your curious friends in closets or dresser drawers.

Be mindful when carrying laundry baskets down stairs! Your new pet might think she is playing hide and seek, unaware that you can't see her at all!

Monitor Your Pet's Health

When your pet arrived at the Humane Society of Missouri, he was given a thorough health examination and was vaccinated against many diseases.

However, if the pet was exposed to the disease prior to being vaccinated, he might be incubating the disease without showing symptoms. In these cases, the immunizations would not be effective. Closely observe your new pet during the next several weeks and report any concerns to your veterinarian.



Signs to watch for:

  • Blood in urine or stool
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty in urinating or defecating
  • Frequency of urination with appearance to urinate very little
  • Discharge from eyes or nose
  • Excessive scratching
  • Foul or unusual odors
  • Hair loss
  • Lack of appetite
  • Limping or lameness
  • Listlessness
  • Sneezing or coughing
  • Swelling or lumps
  • Vomiting

Schedule your veterinary appointment at the Animal Medical Center of Mid-America's St. Louis City, Westport, or Chesterfield Valley locations by calling 314.951.1534.


For after-hours emergencies, you might need to contact one of the privately owned pet emergency hospitals which are not affiliated with the Humane Society of Missouri. You must phone ahead and there will be additional fees. The Humane Society of Missouri does not reimburse expenses incurred at these or other veterinary clinics.

Emergency pet hospitals:

  • St. Louis Area: (314) 822-7600
  • St. Charles area: (636) 240-5496
  • Illinois: (618) 346-1843


To a dog, their crate is their den - a place of their own to which they can retreat when tired or stressed. Since dogs don't like to "mess" in their den, crating - when done correctly - expedites housetraining and ensures a secure dog and a happy household. The crate is utilized to train your dog - NEVER to punish your dog.

For more information on crating, please refer to

Crate training your dog - step by step guide

Crate training your dog and house safety - questions and answers

Adjustment Time

Allow your new pet to slowly explore the new surroundings while supervised.

Allow your pet quiet time and place of his own to relax, such as a crate for dogs or a "private" room for cats.

Give your pet a few days to adjust to the new surroundings before introducing neighbors and extended family.

Spend time reassuring your pet to help them feel secure and "at home".

Isolate your pet from other pets until you're sure he or she is healthy and free of parasites.

Supervise your new pet when introducing them to current pets. Begin by introducing each other's scent. Restrain dogs on leashes and cats in carriers in case tempers flare. Be patient - this may take a few days or longer. For more information, please refer to Introducing your new dog to your resident dog, Canine rivalry and Introducing your new cat to your other pets.

Supervise children around your new pet. Children sometimes don't know their own strength and often have more energy than a puppy or kitten who can tire easily. Furthermore, the "baby" teeth of puppies and kittens are sharp. And kittens have not yet learned how to retract their claws. For more information, please refer to Children and dogs: Important information for parents and Why dogs bite: A guideline for children.

Continue feeding your pet the same food they were previously eating. Sudden changes in diet can result in diarrhea. If your vet recommends changing food, do so gradually by mixing some new food with the current food.

DOs and DON'Ts

The following tips are recommended when bringing a pet into your life. For more information, please consult your veterinarian.


Provide healthy food, clean water and good shelter. These are the basics and they're the law.

Feed your pet quality pet food made with consistent ingredients specially formulated for your pet's individual healthcare needs - this will help ensure good health. The Humane Society of Missouri uses Purina pet food.

Small, low-calorie treats can be part of your pet's routine if given at specific times or in certain situations such as obedience training. However, feeding your pet well does not mean feeding your pet too much. Indiscriminate feeding from the table or improper treats might lead to health problems such as obesity and organ dysfunction. When in doubt, leave the people food and the fatty treats out.

See your veterinarian regularly. Regular visits to your pet's healthcare professional are vital in keeping your pet healthy, especially since our four-legged friends cannot tell us when they don't feel well.

Keeping resident pets current on their vaccination schedule is especially important when bringing a new pet into your household. Additionally, some behavior problems can be blamed on poor health. A healthy pet is a happy pet! Besides, Rabies vaccinations are required by law and only available from your veterinarian.

Make an appointment at the Animal Medical Center of Mid-America

Spay or neuter your pet. As a result, your pet:

  • Will be less likely to be aggressive, territorial and anxious to mark his territory (which is also your territory).
  • Will be less likely to get certain types of cancer.
  • Will be less likely to roam from home and become lost.
  • Will not contribute to pet overpopulation.

Have your pet microchipped. Make an appointment at the Animal Medical Center of Mid-America by calling 314.951.1534

The best-dressed pets are wearing a collar with TWO phone numbers on the tag. A lost pet with identification is much more likely to be returned home.

Provide heartworm prevention year 'round. Not only does heartworm medicine prevent heartworms, but it also controls other intestinal parasites that can be contagious to humans.

Be patient.

Pet-proof your home.

Be prepared in case of a natural disaster.

Make arrangements for your pet's future in case something happens to you.

Remember homeless pets in your will.

Visit the Resources page for help with common pet behaviors.


Keep Kitty inside. It's the law in the City of St. Louis. Furthermore, "outside" cats are often the victims of cars, dogs and inhumane people. Your cat deserves to be safe. Read more about keeping your cat safe.

Transport Kitty in a carrier. Cats usually don't like to travel. A carrier will help them feel safe and prevent them from hiding under the gas and brake pedals.


Let your dog take you to training class. Positive, reward-based training:

  • Teaches you how to communicate with your dog.
  • Socializes your dog with other dogs and people.
  • Corrects problem behavior.
  • Strengthens the bond between you and your dog. He will no longer be just "the dog" but truly your best friend!

Make your dog part of the family. Dogs are pack animals. Your dog considers your family to be his "pack" and he yearns to be with you. Dogs who are part of the family suffer less stress and loneliness, and are much less likely to develop health problems and behavioral issues.

Pick up what your dog leaves behind. Not only will you help curtail the spread of diseases and parasites, but you'll also be more popular with the neighbors.

Reinforce good behavior with much praise. Punishment has no place in training.

Fence your yard. A fence will keep your dog safely in your yard while keeping other dogs securely out.

Expect to lose some possessions to puppies when they are teething and housetraining, but your temper should never be one of them.

Walk your dog on a leash. Even if your dog is friendly, he might approach a dog, person or car that isn't.


DO NOT leave your pet unattended or allow him to roam outdoors.

DO NOT take your pet to parks or other public areas (including your own neighborhood) until he has had all of his vaccinations. Parvovirus, which is spread by infected feces, is deadly to puppies with fragile immune systems.

DO NOT give your cat medicines or treatments designed for use in dogs.

DO NOT leave your pet in a car. Parked cars become very hot very quickly in the summer, and very cold in the winter. Unless your dog is coming with you to your destination, leave him at home.

DO NOT hit, harm, abuse, ignore or neglect your pet, ever.

Disaster Preparedness for Your Pets


Humane Society of Missouri rescuers assist pet owners of Stockton, Missouri after May 2003 tornados.

Whether the threat is a tornado, flood or earthquake, pet owners must be prepared.

Pet First Aid Classes are offered by the St. Louis chapter of the American Red Cross. Phone (314) 516-2738 or read more.

Check your pet's tags.

Include address, two phone numbers and any special warnings, such as "FeLeuk+" or "Diabetic."

Have your pet microchipped.

Microchipping is available from our veterinary medical centers by appointment. Keep our adoption centers current on changes to your address and phone number.

Inspect your pet's collar. Does it need to be replaced?

Keep a portable home ready to transport.

Pet supply stores stock collapsible crates, collapsible canvas dog kennels and collapsible doghouses. Don't forget Kitty's carrier.

Create a disaster kit for your pet.

Store contents in a sturdy, plastic trash can on wheels with a tight-fitting lid.


  • A favorite toy
  • Extra leashes and collars with tags
  • Pet food (Thwart mice with canned food or dry food purchased in sealed pails.)
  • Manual can opener
  • Plastic bowls
  • Bottled water
  • Towels Litter box, litter and scoop
  • Current photos of pets
  • Extra medications
  • Copy of medical records
  • Copy of rabies registration
  • A list of emergency veterinarians with phone numbers (Store photos and paperwork in a heavy-duty, zip-type plastic bag. Secure to inside lid with waterproof tape.)
  • A first aid kit for pets
  • "Pet First Aid" book printed by the Humane Society of the United States and the American Red Cross