By Ashley Watson
The holidays are the ideal time for adopting a pet since they make a great gift for the entire family. First, you will want to make sure that your children understand the responsibility of owning a pet. Finding the right dog or cat, and properly training your new pet are also key factors. From knowing where to adopt, to pet-proofing tips and finding the right veterinarian, this week’s blog post will cover all you need to know about adopting a pet. While there are some responsible breeders out there, at VetriScience® Laboratories, we encourage you to consider adoption first. Shelters are overflowing with dogs and cats who need homes and may just be the perfect pet for you and your family.
Dog or Cat?
Deciding on whether to get a dog or cat may be as simple as knowing how much time you spend at home with the pet. While cats can use the litter box, dogs need to be let out to go to the bathroom a few times of day at least, and puppies need to go out every few hours. Dogs need more exercise than cats, though cats do need a fair amount of play time. You can find tips on giving indoor cats exercise and other tips at the Indoor Pet Initiative. Typically, dogs tend to be more work than cats and cannot be left alone for longer periods of time. If you decide to get a dog, make sure you know where there’s a dog park or other area the dog can be taken off leash.
Finding a Shelter
Once you’ve decided on what type of pet you want, think about the shelter where you will be adopting your pet. The Humane Society or the ASPCA are good places to start. Be careful about adopting at no kill shelters that house dogs who have been relocated from kill shelters. In some cases, these dogs are not cared for properly and may have infectious diseases, fleas, worms, and other issues that could be costly or even deadly. Be sure to do your homework before adopting from any shelter. Greyhound rescues are typically reputable, and greyhounds can make a wonderful addition to an established pet family.
Preparing Your Home
Preparing your home for a new pet is much like child-proofing your home for a new baby. Pet-proofing includes keeping chemicals and other dangerous materials in locked cabinets or on high shelves, keeping electrical cords away from pets, moving plants, taking up rugs, and removing breakable items. Some foods can be toxic to pets as well, so keep all of your food locked down and away from pets. Anything of value to you needs to be moved to a place where your dog or cat cannot get to it. Cats are extremely acrobatic and will jump on counters and shelves, so make sure your cabinets are shut tight. Cats also love electrical wires and cords, so be sure to keep phone chargers and computer cords away from the cat.
Other considerations for indoor cats include, choosing where the litter box will go, making sure your cat has a perch (cats like to be high up), or a place where the cat can see out of the window. Toys are very important, especially for kittens. Cats love to play, and it keeps their joints and heart healthy. Finding the right scratching post or pad will depend on how your cat likes to scratch. Ultimately, make sure your kitty has a place that helps her feel safe, such as a cat bed in a corner, or anything that resembles a cave. Cats like dark, hidden places.
Dogs can be destructive when they are left alone or stressed. That’s why they need a variety of chew toys and plenty of exercise. Any vet will tell you that a tired dog is a good dog. Dog-proofing is especially important. Pick an area where the dog will “live” when you are not around. Most dog owners choose the kitchen since accidents are easier to clean up on tile or linoleum. Next, decide whether or not you want to crate your dog. Puppies are easier to crate train, but you can train an older dog to stay in a crate while you are not home to avoid destruction to your property. If you don’t want to crate your dog, using baby gates is another option.
Lastly, find the right veterinarian. Most dogs and cats from shelters have already had their shots and have been treated for fleas and other common health concerns. However, make sure your new pet has been neutered and has had all their shots. There are some programs, such as the CATalyst Council, that promote a healthy transition from the shelter to the new home through connecting with local vets. One of the best ways to find a good vet is by word of mouth, but always check with the shelter or person from whom you got your new pet.
We wish you a safe and happy holiday from everyone at VetriScience®, and be sure to check us out on Facebook for other holiday tips for pet owners.