Imagine you are walking past a pet supply store that happens to be hosting a pet adoption event, and you happen to lock eyes with the most adorable puppy you’ve ever seen, who happens to share the name of your favorite second cousin—twice removed. You’re overcome with love and decide the universe is sending you a sign to adopt this perfect, innocent ball of fluff—wait, did they just destroy that entire stuffed toy?—never mind, the universe has spoken. Before you know it, you’re preparing to sign the paperwork—after pulling it out of your soon-to-be new pet’s razor-sharp puppy teeth. We’ve all been there. Cute puppies are hard to resist. However, pet adoption is not a decision to be made lightly. It requires research, planning, and honest self-reflection. If you are interested in adopting a pet, resist the urge to run to the nearest adoption event. Instead, read our Bayview Animal Hospital team’s list of do’s and don’ts for successfully adopting a pet first. 

DO ensure you are ready to adopt a pet

Before you consider adopting a pet, answer the following questions to ensure you are ready to take on the responsibility:

  • Why do I want to adopt a pet?
  • Do I have the financial resources to care for a pet? 
  • Is my living arrangement stable? 
  • Do I have time to care for a pet? 
  • Are the people I live with on board?
  • Do I have experience caring for a pet?
  • Am I ready to make a lifelong commitment?

Be honest with yourself. If you determine you are not ready to adopt now, that doesn’t mean you won’t be in the future, and making this tough decision is a good sign you will be a responsible pet owner when you are ready. 

DON’T adopt a pet without doing your research

The easiest way to sabotage a pet adoption is to go into it blindly. Take the time to research breeds to get an idea of which ones would work best for your lifestyle. For example, if you are a self-proclaimed couch potato, a young, energetic boxer or husky likely won’t be the right match. Similarly, an elderly dachshund with back issues won’t be a good fit if you’re looking for a marathon training companion. The importance of research cannot be overstated. Too often, well-meaning adopters fall in love with a cute puppy—who wouldn’t?—and make an impulsive decision that isn’t fair to themselves or the pet. Research and preparation lay the foundation for a smooth and successful pet adoption. 

DO ask questions and spend time with a potential pet

Whether you are adopting from an animal shelter or a rescue organization, ask plenty of questions about a potential pet, including questions about their age, history, health, and behavior. Realize that you may not get an answer to every question. If a pet was found as a stray, for instance, their past living situation may be unknown. Additionally, while shelter volunteers do their best to evaluate a pet’s behavior, the shelter environment is not an ideal place to see a pet’s true personality. If you want a more detailed view of a pet’s behavior, you may want to work with a foster-based rescue organization where pets live in a home with a family who can get a better understanding of their true temperament. 

DON’T forget to purchase essential pet supplies

Before you bring your new pet home, ensure you have these essentials:

  • Food and water bowls
  • Pet carrier 
  • Crate
  • Collar
  • Leash and harness
  • Comfy bed
  • Nutritious pet food
  • Treats 
  • Grooming supplies
  • Poop bags
  • Baby gates
  • Toys 
  • Paper towels
  • Litter box and litter

DO socialize your adopted pet

Once you bring your adopted pet home, the real work begins. Remember that transitioning into a new environment with unfamiliar people, sights, and smells can be overwhelming for your pet. Set realistic expectations, and give your pet time to adjust to their new home and family. When you first bring your pet home, keep them on a secure leash and slowly walk them around your house and yard, allowing them to sniff as they go. If you have other pets, hold off on introductions until your new addition has had some time to settle in. After giving your new pet a tour, set up a quiet area in your home, such as a bedroom or crate, where your pet can decompress. After an exhausting day of transition, they may choose to curl up and sleep. 

Over the next two to three weeks, help your pet become familiar with your home and family, and slowly begin introducing them to friends and family and new environments. Monitor your pet for signs of stress and remove them from a situation if they display any of the following anxious behaviors:

  • Cowering or attempting to hide
  • Yawning
  • Excessive lip licking
  • Panting
  • Shaking
  • Drooling

Be patient with your new pet as they learn the ropes and settle into their new life, and contact your veterinarian if you need training resources. 

Set your adopted pet up for success by scheduling their wellness exam within the first week of adoption. Our Bayview Animal Hospital team will perform a thorough physical examination, identify any concerns, and develop a care plan for your new furry companion.