Special Thanks to the ASPCA for the following information.
Caring for a companion animal goes far beyond providing food, water and shelter. It takes research and careful planning to bring the right pet into your home, and to make sure your lifestyle is the right one for your pet. Read on for tips to prepare yourself, as well as your home, for a new furry friend.
Are You Ready to Adopt?
When adopting, you are making a commitment to care for an animal for the rest of his life—that could mean 10 to 15 years for dogs and up to 20 years for cats. As you go through lifestyle changes such as moves, the birth of children and new jobs, your animal will remain a permanent part of your life. If circumstances change, will you still be able to care for your pet?
Owning a dog or cat costs more than the initial adoption fee. Food, veterinary care, vaccinations, spaying or neutering and proper identification—that means a collar with tags and a more permanent form of ID such as microchipping—can add up.
Time is also a factor. Dogs benefit from several hours of exercise and companionship every day. Cats are healthiest and happiest indoors and love to be treated to energetic play sessions. If your work demands that you travel often, or if you're out of the house most days and evenings, this may not be the right time to adopt.
It is important to consider whether your children, along with your resident pets, are able to accommodate the addition of a cat or dog to your household.
Which Pet Is Right for You?
Your personality and lifestyle, along with challenges such as space restrictions and amount of time spent at home, should be explored to determine what pet is right for your household. Research different breeds and ask shelter staffers for guidance—they're experts at making perfect matches!
If You’re Considering Adopting a Dog:
Loyal and loving, dogs are social animals who thrive on being upstanding members of their families.
If there are young children in your home, a puppy may not be your best bet. You may want to consider adopting a medium-sized dog over five months of age.
It is a good idea to draw up a schedule of who in the family will help with the care of your new dog, including walking, playing, feeding and grooming. You should also have a plan in place for your dog in case you become unable to care for him.
Don’t forget to have your new friend spayed or neutered. Socialization is the key to a happy and confident dog. All puppies should be enrolled in a puppy class where part of the time is devoted to monitored play with other dogs.
Basic manners classes can also help adult dogs brush up on their skills or new learn ones.
America’s shelters are filled with pit bull-type dogs. There are many misconceptions about these dogs, who can make amazing companions and loyal family pets.
Before you adopt, be sure to call your local city hall or animal shelter to find out about your local breed laws. You may experience breed discrimination in some places. Legislation may prohibit you from living in certain communities, and homeowners insurance may be harder to find. However, that shouldn’t deter you from adopting a pit bull-type dog. Just make sure you know your rights and limitations before you adopt.
If You’re Considering Adopting a Cat:
Cats are known to be graceful, athletic, playful, sensitive and affectionate.
Make sure everyone in the house is prepared to have a cat.
Cats can be very independent. Make sure everyone knows that the fun begins only after the cat feels safe and her needs are met.
Once you're sure everyone is ready for feeding, litter changing and grooming, you can divvy up chores among family members so everyone is prepared to care for kitty before she arrives.
As with dogs, it’s important to have your new feline friend spayed or neutered.
Preparing Your Home for a New Cat or Dog
Whether it's tightly sealing your garbage cans or paying attention to dangerous decorations during the holidays, you'll need to make your home safe before adopting. That includes keeping toxic foods, pet-unfriendly plants and dangerous household items out of paw's reach. Here are some suggestions for preparing your home to welcome a new canine or feline companion.
Put a cozy bed for your pet in every room. Pets are much more likely to keep off of furniture if they have attractive alternatives.
If you have a cat, try putting double-sided sticky tape or upside-down carpet runners on furniture to discourage her from scratching.
Avoid vertical blinds, pooling drapery, ornate tassels and long cords that can become strangulation hazards.
If you have cats, be sure to install high-quality metal screens on all windows.
It may be a good idea to roll up and store decorative rugs until your new dog is fully house-trained.
Provide your new cat with a variety of scratching posts and perches.
Use dog crates and gates to confine your new dog when home alone until his house manners earn him unsupervised freedom.
Provide plenty of “legal” things for your dog to chew. If he has attractive toys and bones of his own, he’ll be much less likely to gnaw on your things!
Check to make sure that plants in and around your home are not poisonous to pets, and if you use a diffuser please make sure the scented oils are nontoxic to pets.