What You Need to Know Before Adopting a Pet

Today is National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day! Getting a dog or a cat (or any pet, really!) can be a huge undertaking, so we put together some information that will help you along the way to adding a new, loving member to your family!



Do you have everything you will need for your new pet? Think about where they will eat, sleep and play – do you have a bed for them? The right food? Some toys? Also make sure you have the right space: animals need some to move around in, just like you. Maybe a cat or dog won’t be too happy in a tiny apartment, that may already be tight just for you.
When adopting a dog, prepare yourself for daily walks - there is no skipping! They need to be outside and move just like you do (or should 😉).
Another thing to consider before adopting a pet is to make sure you or other household members are not allergic. There is nothing more heartbreaking than bonding with your new friend and then having to take him or her back to the shelter because you can’t breathe and your eyes are itching.

Also make sure you know where you nearest vet is. Take your new pet in to get an initial checkup and to introduce them. You don’t want to be spending your time researching vets in the case of an emergency!


Be Patient.

Shelter pets have likely been through some kind of abandonment or isolation and may be experiencing a lot of anxiety. Their behavior at the shelter may not reflect their actual personality and once you take them home, there will be an adjustment period for them to learn their new surroundings. Try not to get frustrated if things don’t immediately work out the way you thought they would! Of course, you can train your pets, but try and respect their character, too.


Create a Routine.

You’ll need to spend quite a bit of time with your new pet, so it’s not recommended to get a one and then leave them home alone all day long. If you can, take a few days off work to stay home with your new friend and help them get to know their new surroundings together. Creating a structured schedule will then also help him or her get used to their new home and family. Feed them, walk them, and play with them at the same time and in the same place each day. If you want to adopt a dog, be aware that they need company more than cats do and may only be able to be alone for a few hours each day!


Consider training.

This is a great way to get your pet to respond to your requests. A pet that’s been sheltered may not have any initial training and the older they get the harder it will be for them to learn. If they go somewhere that practices humane training techniques and has other pets they can socialize with while they learn, there will be more room to succeed! If you don’t have the time to go to a dog school, you can also get a trainer to come to your house and do a longer session with you there. Cats will learn better where they are at home and have a harder time adjusting to new surroundings all the time, so it is not really recommended to take them to a training school. You can look up some training tips online or ask your vet if you are struggling with something in particular. Also keep in mind that unlike dogs that learn a lot of tricks, cats are not likely to please you in that way, so don’t try to force them to do things that are not in their nature.



Adopting a special needs pet?

Are you taking an even bigger step to adopting and considering a rescue animal? Be aware that this might entail a lot more preparation and time you will need to invest! Animals that have had a very traumatic past need special care, so really think about it and make sure you are able to give them what they may need. For more detailed info, check out the adoption page from Beagle Freedom Project. Here you’ll find all the details on what it takes to adopt a special needs pet.


And if for any reason you can’t adopt at this time, you can still help animals in need! Volunteer your time or donate food and supplies to your local shelter, they will always appreciate anything you have to give. You can also support these awesome organizations ASPCA, Best Friends Animal Society, Shelter Pet Project and the Beagle Freedom Project!



Do you have a shelter pet or have you adopted an animal before? We’d love to hear your story below!

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