Congratulations, adopting a pet is so exciting! You are providing an animal with a home while freeing up more space at these rescues and shelters for other animals in need. Although many rescues and shelters try their best to keep these pets happy and healthy, there are always situations where these animals may be sick due to hereditary or congenital conditions or not socialized well due to past experiences/trauma. Even when you purchase a pet, this can still occur.
As veterinary professionals, we see all the mistakes. Here are the things every veterinarian would like you to know before adopting:
Always plan to bring your pet to your veterinarian within two weeks of adoption, even if they were seen elsewhere.
Is the pet socialized?
Socialization is important for the lifelong behavior of your pet. Puppies and kittens learn how to interact with each other and their environment during this important stage. The socialization period for puppies and kittens starts as soon as their eyes open and conti9nues until they are 4 months old.
An unsocialized pet can show fear:
For Cats: ears pointed backwards, wide eyes, arched back
Unsocialized cats are more likely to urine mark, act aggressively, and develop systemic illness.
For Dogs: tail tucked between legs, averting eye contact, slow movement, dilated pupils
Unsocialized dogs can become fearful and unpredictable with their human handlers. They may become aggressive or urine mark.
How do they look when you meet them?
Look for signs of illness such as nasal discharge, ocular discharge, coughing or sneezing. A quiet puppy may not “just be shy”, they could have an illness that is causing their quiet demeanor.
Are they up to date on vaccinations?
The core vaccinations are distemper and rabies. Make sure that either these vaccinations are up-to-date or that you have an appointment at your own veterinarian’s office to continue the series.
Were they dewormed?
All pets have parasites and you can contract these parasites from your new furry friend. Puppies and kittens in rescue and shelter environments should be dewormed regularly.
Things to consider prior to adopting:
Do you have time for a pet?
Pets do take up some of your time. Many dogs need to be walked daily and many cats love to play and spend time with their owners. If you work long hours, you may have to hire someone to let out your dog to avoid accidents in the house. Cats can get bored easily and need access to scratch posts and toys especially while you are away.
Do you have the financial capability to take care of a new pet?
Between food, supplies, routine vet visits, unexpected vet visits, and pet sitting fees, pets can really rack up the bills. As a pet-owner, you have to be ready financially before owning a pet to ensure they have everything they need.
Are you ready for a life-long commitment?
When you adopt a new pet, you have to remember they can potentially be around for the next 10-20 years of your life. Make sure to ask yourself if you are ready for this long-term commitment.
Adopting a pet is a great experience and helps open more spots for rescues and shelters to take more animals off the street. We as your veterinarian love to hear your adoption stories and just want to make sure you are getting a happy, heathy furry companion. If you’ve recently adopted, the best first step to take is making an appointment with your local veterinarian. We would love to meet your new family members and make sure they are in good health.
Ohio State University’s Indoor Pet Initiative: https://indoorpet.osu.edu/cats
AAHA Canine Vaccine Recommendations: https://www.aaha.org/aaha-guidelines/2022-aaha-canine-vaccination-guidelines/recommendations-for-core-and-noncore-canine-vaccines/
AAHA Feline Vaccine Recommendations: https://www.aaha.org/aaha-guidelines/2020-aahaaafp-feline-vaccination-guidelines/core-vaccines-for-pet-cats/