Carroll County Times
Carroll County Lifestyles

Pet Wise: Effectively managing the multi-pet household

Sharing your home with several pets presents many challenges especially if they are of different species, vary in gender and age, or have special needs. The goal is to provide a safe, comfortable environment for each animal and to meet each pet’s needs. Owners need to factor in the expenses involved when caring for multiple pets which includes shots, examinations, parasite preventatives, spay/neutering, microchipping, veterinary emergencies, and health issues requiring evaluations from veterinary specialists, prescription diets and medications.

Pets may also require routine professional grooming, and dogs may benefit from manners training and obedience classes from certified instructors who utilize positive reward-based training techniques may help to prevent the “fur flying” under your roof. However, pets with more serious behavior issues like resource guarding or fear aggression may need the services of a certified animal behaviorist.


Additional expenses include the purchase of equipment.

  • Dogs: crates, bowls for food and water, collars and safe leashes, baby gates, safe toys.
  • Fish: aquarium, filters and accessories, food.
  • Birds: food, safe toys, and a birdcage positioned away from tables or other “launching pads” to prevent attacks from cats or dogs.
  • Reptiles: glass terrarium, heat lamp, water dish, food.

To maintain the health, safety, welfare of your pets please follow these recommendations.


General organizational tips

Develop and maintain a daily schedule: Animals feel more secure when owners provide them with a daily routine for feeding, walking, playing, grooming, napping, training, etc. If disruptions to routines occur, some animals are sensitive to change and may exhibit behavioral or health problems. Pets thrive on structure and predictability.

Organize pets’ records and equipment: Keep a binder or an accordion file folder with each pet’s health folder, license, vaccination record, microchip information, medical history and registration certificate. Keep these records assessable to other family members, pet sitter, or appointed guardian in case of an emergency.

Maintain a “master calendar” of your pets’ appointments for veterinary, grooming appointments, training classes, etc. Place the reminder stickers that come with the heartworm and flea/tick preventatives on your calendars.

Provide detailed feeding and medication instructions for family members or pet sitters to follow when you are away. Review and revise instructions because pets’ diets and medications may change.

Label pets’ food containers if they do not eat the same foods. Bowls can also be labeled with pets’ names.

Hang a leash rack near a door holding all the dogs’ leashes and collars or place leashes and collars on top of each dogs’ crate. Collars should have the following tags attached: ID, current rabies, current county license (state law requirement) and microchip.

Place cat litter boxes in separate rooms or on different floors to prevent conflicts or accidents because some cats will bully other cats. A good rule to follow is to provide one litter box per cat plus one extra. Keep litter boxes inaccessible to other pets by using barriers such as baby gates.

Position aquariums, bird cages, reptile tanks, and small mammal enclosures in areas that are inaccessible to cats and dogs who may view these creatures as play things or potential meals!


Take a weekly “inventory” of pet food, medications, cat litter, treats, etc. and replenish these items in a timely manner (particularly prescription medications and diets).

Hygiene and odor control

Clean litter boxes several times a week and use clumping litter.

Immediately clean up pet “accidents” and apply enzymatic products such as “Nature’s Miracle” or “Simple Solution” to deodorize and remove stains.

Pick up and dispose of dog feces on your property and when walking your dogs in the neighborhood, at rest stops, and parks to prevent the spread of disease. Always keep a supply of baggies in your pockets and vehicles.

Managing behavior and interaction between pets

Learn to read animal body language signals that animals use to communicate stress, fear, anger, playfulness and affection. Some outstanding books provide this information and serve as general reference books for dog and cat owners. Author Arden Moore’s “Happy Cat Happy You” and “The Cat Behavior Answer Book” both provide excellent descriptions of how to interpret feline body language messages. Pat Miller’s “The Power of Positive Dog Training” contains an entire chapter that provides readers with specific body language behaviors to watch for and to interpret more accurately. The bottom line is that we humans need to “listen with our eyes” and not focus only on vocalizations or wagging tails that may result in a biting incident. These books are highly recommended resources for pet owners.

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Teach dogs the basic obedience commands sit, down, stay, come, and heel by working with an obedience instructor who uses positive motivation methods. Well-socialized and trained dogs are less likely to jump on guests, or disturb other pets, and may be more easily managed. Pat Miller’s book can “jump start” your training program.


Provide your pets with their own space such as separate rooms, and individual crates for each dog. By crate training dogs we provide them with a safe haven and allows them to eat in peace and preventing squabbles over food with other dogs. Crates also prevent destructive behavior that occurs when dogs are loose in a house so stock up on goody-filled Kongs or other hollow hard rubber toys to keep them occupied when you are not present.

Closely supervise pets indoors and out. Always walk dogs on a leash if you do not a have a fenced-in yard. Always watch for stray animals that may distract or harm your pets. You might have to walk dogs in shifts.

Limit interaction between elderly pets and rambunctious younger animals to prevent injuries or keep them separated.

Provide meaningful quality time and enriching activities with each pet such as taking walks, playing fetch, cuddling on a sofa while watching television, hiding healthy treats for them to find or reviewing basic obedience skills with food rewards.

Watch for behavioral changes such as aggression, fear, eating, sleeping, and elimination problems, lethargy and self-mutilation. These behaviors could be signs of health issues or stress exhibited by pets that cannot tolerate the presence of too many animals living under the same roof. An appointment with a vet may be warranted and possibly a consultation with a certified animal behaviorist. Owners may need to consider re-homing such animals so they may live happily as single pets.

Local breeding ordinance

According to the Carroll County Code of Public Law and Ordinances, dog owners who have more than three intact (unsprayed/un-neutered) adult dogs (1 year and older) and intend to breed dogs must obtain a fancier’s kennel permit upon approval by the Zoning Administrator after a public hearing.