Important Tips Before and After You Adopt a Pet

Living conditions, time, and expenses are all topics that should be addressed before you adopt a pet

Adding a pet to your family is a big decision, and there are some factors you should consider before visiting a rescue or shelter to adopt. Many people are attracted to the idea of adopting a puppy or kitten, and who can blame them? However, as cute as puppies and kittens are, they are a lot of work and many people do not have the time to spend training and socializing a young pet. An adult may actually be the right fit for your family, based on time, activity levels, training and cost. The same factors can affect decisions such as cats vs. dogs, small vs. large pets and appropriate breeds for your family. Before you go, it’s important to understand the amount of responsibility involved when adopting a dog or cat from a shelter.

Before Adopting a Pet

Before visiting an animal shelter you should first consider several important questions:

Will you be able to care for the pet for his/her whole life?

Adopting a pet is a commitment to have that pet for his or her lifetime. In some cases, this can stretch 15+ years. If you’re not ready to commit to a pet for that long, you may want to consider fostering for an animal rescue or waiting.

Does your current living situation allow you to have a pet?

Some private communities do not allow pets, whereas others have weight, breed and/or species limits. Check with landlords, community associations and any other involved group before visiting a rescue and falling in love with a pet.

How much time to you have to care for a pet?

Dogs and cats require food, water, exercise, attention and lots of love. However, some pets require more time than others. For example, if you work long hours or are rarely home, a puppy is probably not for you. Similarly, you probably wouldn’t want to adopt a high-energy dog who needs hours of exercise and training each day. It’s important to take your lifestyle and amount of free time into consideration when adopting.

Are you prepared to handle possible accidents or emergencies involving your pet?

Maintaining your pet’s health with flea/tick and heartworm medication is a great first step in keeping your pet healthy. Annual veterinary check-ups (or more depending on the pet’s health) and vaccines are also important and should never be skipped. However, dogs and cats are also susceptible to injuries and chronic disease. For instance, dogs and cats can develop diabetes, a lifelong disease requiring daily medication and insulin management. Always remember that owning a pet also means providing proper care when needed.

Who will take care of your pet on a daily basis?

Who in your family will be responsible for feeding, training, walks, exercise, clean-up, vet visits and more? Discuss this and figure it out before bringing a pet home to avoid disagreements over who is responsible for the pet’s care.

Who will take care of your pet while you’re away?

Even if you’re not planning on traveling anytime soon, it’s important to consider who will take care of your pet if you have to go away. Many vet clinics will board pets, but you may also want to look into local petsitters and pet boarding facilities. You should also consider whether you want someone to watch your pet at your home or want to drop him/her off elsewhere.

Are you financially prepared for a pet?

Pets can be expensive. They require specialized food, regular veterinary care and supplies. If you travel frequently, you’ll also have to factor in the cost of boarding or petsitting. Many dogs require training or grooming as well. All of these costs add up and can make owning a pet prohibitively expensive. One way to ease to financial strain is to get pet insurance. This way, you never have to worry about how you will pay for your pet’s medical care should an emergency occur.

Weigh your options before adopting

Rescuing a needy pet is a great way to change his/her life and add a wonderful member to your family. It’s important to consider all the factors though when adopting to determine if you are prepared to care for a pet and if so, what kind of pet will best fit into your life. It’s easy to fall in love with a puppy or a particular breed, but you should consider how that pet would fit into your life.

If you’re ready to bring a pet into your home but need help finding the perfect dog or cat for you and your family, visit our pet adoption page.

After Adopting a Pet

Bringing your pet home from a shelter is an exciting moment. By being prepared ahead of time, you can ease your new pet’s transition into your home. Common pet supplies for a new pet will include a crate or bed, housetraining aids, healthy pet food, bowls for food and water and toys to keep your pet entertained. For a more detailed list, read our list of essential pet supplies.

Pet products to protect against fleas, ticks and heartworms should also be purchased and given monthly. (Your pet will need a veterinarian prescription for heartworm medicine).You may also consider giving your pet daily supplements with Omega-3 to promote skin and coat health or glucosamine/chondroitin supplements to maintain healthy joints.

For more in-depth information on adoption topics including behavioral issues, grooming, and pet-proofing your home before your pet’s arrival, visit the Pet Education section.