Veterinary emergency care specialist JUSTINE LEE, DVM, DACVECC, explains how to safely introduce a new pet into your home

Start Pups Outdoors: Introduce new dogs to each other in secured, neutral territory. Both should be leashed so you can control the speed of the meeting--and pull them apart in case of a fight. Avoid introducing dogs inside, especially if your current dog is protective of his turf.

Trim Kitty's Claws: The sharper or longer the nail, the more injury can occur--like puncturing the cornea, resulting in permanent blindness! I've seen this in puppies introduced to cats, and it can be devastating.

Create a Safe Space: This may be a crate to run into or--for any new cats--a dog-free zone secured by a baby gate. Keep your dog on a leash in the house so you can restrain him, use a basket muzzle for the first few weeks, or consider keeping him crated while the new cat explores. Most important, make sure your pets are supervised.

Mind Mealtimes: Some pets are more nervous about eating in front of another pet and may feel threatened, causing them to eat sporadically--or not at all. Feed new pets using separate bowls in separate rooms until they're well adjusted. If you have a new cat, it's imperative that you make sure she's eating, as she may be more apt to hide.

Splurge on an Extra Litter Box: Until all your cats get along, keep litter boxes in different areas of the house. Cats often feel trapped inside a covered box and don't know if someone will attack them during their most vulnerable moment. Offering several bathroom options curbs inappropriate urination in your home.

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