With the holidays right around the corner, you're probably considering what gifts will really light up your loved one's eyes and hearts. Well, if you're considering bringing home a bundle of fuzz and love by adopting a pet, start a plan for success now.

How to Plan for the Perfect Pet Addition to Your Family

If you've decided to adopt this year–great! The shelters tend to see an influx of dogs and cats given as gifts. Do you want someone's returned gift? Of course not! Sometimes people don't realize how much work puppies and kittens are. Or they have allergies. Or they just don't have the time to take care of a new pet. Basically, it's a "them-problem and not the pet's problem. Which gets us to step one"¦

Step One: The Decision Making Process

Go through the decision making process with a clear head and an open heart. What do we mean by this? We mean that you want to be sure it's the right time to adopt another pet. You also want to be sure you can afford to care for your pet. This part of the process can be made easier by talking to your family, friends, and your spouse.

We like to think this is the most difficult part of the process since a pet is a huge commitment.

When considering adopting a new pet, think about:

  • Whether adopting is the right choice: shelter pets need caring homes. Some shelter pets also have quirks. When you choose to adopt a dog, cat, rabbit, or hamster, you're opening your home and heart to a creature that may need a bit of patience (Yes, non-shelter pets also require a great deal of patience).
  • Do you have the time to devote to your new pet? Training takes time. And adopted pets need time to adjust to their new homes and family. Will you be able to take a dog for walks? Are you home often enough to give a kitten enough playtime?
  • Do you have the budget to expand your furry family?
  • The first year of pet ownership comes with a monetary investment of about $1,000 and each year after you can expect to spend about $500 or more.
  • What species is right for your family? Would a low maintenance pet be easier for you or are you ready for the full commitment of a dog?
  • If you decide on a dog or cat, be sure you consider what age you think will be best for your situation.
  • It's nearly impossible to avoid some level of destruction with puppies or kittens. And puppies take time to house train. Both also require their immunizations and being spayed or neutered (although many shelters provide these).

  • Older dogs and cats frequently are housebroken.

Step Two: Prepare Your Home

So, it is the right time. You've decided what species is right and you've started looking at pictures of those adorable dogs and cats on a shelter's website. But before you show up at the shelter and fall head over heels with a pet, prepare your home to be safe and comfy.

This means:

  • Tidying up and checking for loose wires
  • Picking up any choking hazards
  • Moving anything fragile away from an area where it may get damaged
  • Prevent potential poisoning by securing rat poisons, antifreeze, and cleaners

Step Three: Consider a Practice Run or Try Fostering

Some pets' personalities really shine when they're in the shelter while others need a home environment for their personalities to really come out. When you're looking for a new best friend, ask the shelter if they allow trials or sleepovers to give your potential new pet the opportunity to show you how they fit into your family.

Another option is to begin fostering a dog or cat. This allows the pet to come into their own over time. Fostering also creates a strong bond since you'll be helping a pet in-need (whether she's getting nursed back to health physically or mentally).

If you're considering a dog, fostering lets you better understand what size and breed may be right for you.

Fostering can be extremely educational and rewarding for the kids as well. Kids' compassion really develops when they interact with and care for a shelter pet. They also get to experience the excitement of a new pet every time you bring home a new bundle of joy.

Step Four: Schedule An Appointment with Us

Before you adopt or bring home your new pet, make an appointment to establish vet care for your pet. We would love to meet your new pet. We can help you decide on what diet is best for her, schedule her next round of immunizations, and advise you on the right flea, tick, and heartworm treatment. If your pet isn't microchipped, we can help with that as well.

What Supplies Should You Prepare When Adopting a New Pet?

For Dogs:

  • Bed
  • Toys
  • Food and water bowls
  • Treats Collar with ID tag
  • Harness
  • Leash
  • Brush
  • Pet stain spray
  • Possibly a dog crate

For Cats:

  • Food and water bowls
  • Treats
  • Toys
  • Bed
  • Litter and litter box
  • Scratching post and mat

Bringing Your Pet Home

Give your new pet some time to settle in. Give her time to warm up. Let her have space to rest and relax. Many shelters are noisy and stressful and pets need to decompress when they get to their new homes. You will likely want to bring your new dog to training.

Consider a New Years Resolution

Pet Sometimes the new year is the best time to adopt since there will be a lot of fresh faces at the shelter. To create the excitement of "˜getting a pet' on Christmas morning for the kids, you can still wrap a collar and leash. The kids will appreciate being able to help pick a pet (this can help you figure out if your kids have any pet allergies too).


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