Adopting an animal who is currently living in a shelter or foster home is a wonderful decision. The United States is currently in the grip of an overpopulation crisis with millions of adorable animals living in temporary accommodation rather than the loving home that they deserve. With shelters full to bursting point, unwell and older animals are even being put to sleep because there is simply no space nor funds to care for them. By choosing to adopt a dog rather than purchase a puppy from a breeder, you are not only rescuing him from an uncertain future, but you are also gaining a fun, loyal and loving companion.
Bringing any animal into your home requires preparation and planning, but especially so when you choose to adopt a pet. To help you get started, here are our top tips for preparing to adopt a dog.
When you adopt a dog, one of the most important things that you will need to take into consideration is that you are bringing your new furbaby into a very different world to the one that he is used to. He may be used to a great deal of noise and hustle and bustle, and very little one-to-one attention. Moving to a quiet home where there are few or no other animals, and plenty of love and affection for him may be a little overwhelming, and it could take him some time to feel comfortable in his new surroundings.
In an ideal world, your new dog will already have been given a clean bill of health before you adopt him. However, illnesses and injuries can occur at any time, and the last thing that you want to happen is that you need the services of a veterinarian without being registered with one. This could cause you to panic and opt for the vet with the greatest availability, even if they don’t offer the best service. Check out local vets and get your canine pal registered before he moves in. Once he is settled, get him checked over for your own peace of mind and to establish a health ‘base line’ with our vet that future examinations can be compared to.
One of the trickiest things about adopting a dog is not knowing a great deal about their history. If you are lucky, the shelter you are adopting him from may have been able to trace where he has come from, but in many cases, owners are flying blind. Gather any paperwork that you can find, particularly medical records as these will be useful for our vet.
Veterinary care can be an expensive business, so it is highly advisable to have insurance in place that will hopefully cover the cos of any unexpected medical bills he may incur.
Your credit card may need to take a little hit, but it is helpful to have everything he needs in place for his arrival so that you can spend time getting to know one another rather than going shopping! Your basic equipment list should include:
- Food and water bows
- A bed / blankets
- Collar and ID tag
- A sturdy leash
- Toys and treats
- A crate
- His food. Check with his shelter what he is being fed currently, as ideally you should carry on with the same product. This will help reduce the likelihood of him refusing to eat or having an adverse reaction to a diet change. If you want to move him onto a different product, you can do so gradually once he has settled in.
Many people liken preparing their home for a dog to toddler-proofing a property and to be honest, this is the best way to keep your canine safe from harm. Make sure any harmful substances including medications, chemicals and cleaning products are put away, tidy up loose wires and try and view your home from the perspective of a four-legged friend. You also need to be aware of any toxic plants in your garden and get them removed and securing your boundaries, including both above and below gates and fences. Keep outhouses and garages locked and all dangerous garden equipment secured away.
Taking on a dog is a big responsibility for everyone in your home and you all need to be on the same page when it comes to caring for him. This is especially true when you decide on your house rules as failing to be consistent can confuse him and lead to negative behaviors. Decide who is going to assume responsibility for each aspect of his care, and what behaviors you are and aren’t going to allow ahead of time. For example, are you going to allow your new dog to sit on the furniture? Will he be allowed upstairs in your house? Decide on the rules and stick to them.
If you are adopting a dog and would like further advice and support, our experienced and reassuring veterinary team would be delighted to help you any way that you need. Please don’t hesitate to contact our knowledgeable veterinary staff or pop in to see us.