What Professionals Want You to Know Before Adopting a Pet

December 19, 2017
Jenina Pellegren

Every year, approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter shelters nationwide. Veterinary and animal shelter professionals want potential owners to be prepared when considering adoption.

Every year, approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter shelters nationwide, according to the ASPCA. Of those animals, approximately 1.5 million are euthanized. Adoption goes far beyond providing food, water, and shelter—it saves many animals’ lives.

Fortunately, veterinary and animal shelter professionals are working diligently to ensure that adoption success rates increase.

Adoption can be a rewarding experience, but there is a lot to consider before bringing a pet home.

Consider the Commmitment

The ASPCA suggests owners consider the commitment of owning a pet requires before adoption. Companion pets are part of the family for as long as they are alive. That could mean more than 10 years for canine companions and up to 20 years if you are adopting a cat. Consider that changes to your employment, residence, and partnerships are also changes for your pets.

Consider the Preparation

Some preparation is required before bringing a pet home. Ensure that foods and house plants that may be toxic to your pets are locked up or out of reach. If you have young children in the home, prepare them for pet ownership by establishing house rules for interacting with their new companions. If children will be helping to feed and walk or clean up after their pet, ensure they are taught how to do these tasks properly.

Consider a Helping Hand

Find a veterinarian right away for guidance. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), “You and your veterinarian make up the all-star team when it comes to keeping your pet healthy. But you're not just a Most Valuable Player on the team, you've got an opportunity to be a MPVO (Most Valuable Pet Owner). How can you do that? Educate yourself on proper pet care and pet health problems by asking questions and finding answers from reliable, trusted sources of information."

Work closely with the animal shelter you are adopting from as well. They can provide you with a wealth of resources and information to help make your pet’s transition to your home successful.

Consider a Plan for Your New Pet

Establish house rules before bringing your pet home. A pet’s care regimen should include how to care for the pet on a daily basis and take into account exercise, nutrition, and grooming.

Your new pet may not be housetrained. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations and guidance on how to begin this process. The Humane Society says pet owners should read over the housetraining information given to you at the time of adoption. "Be consistent and maintain a routine," the organization advises. "A little extra effort on your part to come home straight from work each day will pay off in easier, faster housetraining.” In some instances, finding a dog trainer to teach you and your pet the basics may be beneficial.

Consider the Wellbeing of Your New Pet

Shelter animals, despite best efforts on the part of the shelter, can contract viruses and bring them to their new home. This is especially dangerous if there are other animals at home. To avoid this, take your pet to the veterinarian within a week of adoption and ensure that your pets are appropriately vaccinated. You should never give your pets human medications and furthermore, owners should be aware of online pet pharmacies due to the fact that many are unregulated and sell dangerous pet medications.

Lastly, training and discipline can create a happy home for your new companion pet. You can speak to your veterinarian about appropriate training techniques or find resources via the AVMA, ASPCA, and the Humane Society.