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What You Need to Know Before Adopting a Pet

What You Need to Know Before Adopting a New Pet

Considering adopting a pet? The coronavirus pandemic and resulting ‘social distancing’ has caused a significant increase in pet adoptions, and it’s not difficult to understand why. Bringing a furry friend into your home can be a welcome diversion, source of fun, and great stress reducer. And, of course, it’s always wonderful when animals find loving families. However, if you’re thinking about adopting a dog, cat, or other animal because of the current environment, it’s essential that you take the decision seriously and consider a variety of important factors.

Pets Are Serious Long-Term Commitments

First and foremost, getting a new pet should never be an impulse decision. Whether it’s your first pet or you’ve lived with many over the years, you’re making a promise to care for the health and happiness of any animal you welcome into your home. In most cases, this promise will extend for years to come as you care for your pet throughout the duration of their life. Make sure you understand this before moving on to any other aspect of the adoption decision.

The unprecedented and unpredictable nature of the COVID-19 situation must also be taken into account. It’s a very stressful time for many, with anxiety coming from a variety of angles. The joy of owning a pet can indeed help alleviate the tension, but caring for an animal is sometimes a source of stress itself. If you currently have a lot on your plate, are you comfortable adding a new pet into the mix?

It may seem obvious, but you should ask yourself whether you’re prepared to continue caring for the pet after the quarantine and social distancing measures end. You may have plenty of free time now to attend to your animal’s every need, but will that still be true when you go back to work or school and assume your other normal responsibilities? Think about why you really want to adopt a pet: Are you looking for a long-term companion or just a distraction to keep your mind off the current situation?

A family including a mother and two daughters petting an adult golden retriever at an animal shelter.

Your Pet Should Fit Your Lifestyle

Not everyone is compatible with every type of pet. When evaluating your options, you want to think about the kind of animal that would live most comfortably in your home. Some pets require much more attention than others. Many dog breeds crave regular interaction and stimulation. Are you home enough (under normal circumstances) to provide it, or do you spend a lot of time at work, traveling, etc? Cats are traditionally considered more independent and low-maintenance, but that’s not necessarily true for every breed. Make sure you do plenty of research to determine whether the animal you want is a good fit.

Training

You should also consider your pet’s training needs. If you’re adopting an adult animal, you may think you don’t need to train them as much as a puppy or kitten, but that may not be the case. Prepare to spend time on potty and/or obedience training when you bring a new pet into your home. This includes buying dog training and behavioral aids, such as training collars and leashes, housebreaking pads, and more. There are even some training products for cats, too.

Space

The amount of available space you have for your pet is another key consideration when it comes to exercise. Some animals require much more physical activity than others in order to stay happy and healthy. Many dogs, especially larger ones, need a big, open area to run around and expend their energy. A small apartment with no yard is probably not the best location for one of these. It may, however, be the perfect place for a cat who doesn’t need much space to roam. If you do have a spacious area for your pet to enjoy, is it adequately fenced-in for their safety? There are several dog fencing options available to help.

Age

Age is a factor worth mentioning as well when it comes to adopting a pet. Older animals can be quite playful and affectionate, but they often have very specific health and dietary needs. Will you be able to provide these, along with any necessary vet visits, medications, and other expenses as they get on in years? Again, you should always do your research to ensure you fully understand the responsibility you’re taking on.

A border collie dog running through a field of brown and green grasses.

Pet-Proof Your Home

Before your new pal walks through the door, your home should be ready for them. This means making a variety of adjustments to your living space with your pet’s safety (and your sanity) in mind.

Believe it or not, many of the everyday items around your home could be dangerous to your animals. These include medications, household cleaners, anti-freeze, pesticides, and even some household plants. Your kitchen can also be a major hazard, as chocolate, onions, coffee, garlic, grapes, and other common foods are toxic to dogs in particular. If you have any potentially harmful foods or items in your home, take steps to ensure your pet can’t swipe them from countertops, cabinets, or other reachable areas. You may consider setting up dog gates to keep your furry friend out of harm’s way.

When in doubt, get down on your hands and knees to see your home from a pet’s-eye perspective. Do you see any loose wires, breakable objects, or other things you don’t want your pet getting into? You may notice something you completely missed.

A yellow labrador sitting in front of a wooden dog gate.

Stock Up on Essential Pet Supplies

There are many important items you don’t want to run out of for your own health and safety, such as food and emergency medical supplies. The same is true for your pet. If you’re adopting a pet, you need to make sure you have everything required to care for their needs, whatever they may be and whenever they may arise.

Food

Keep enough food to accommodate your pet’s feeding schedule. Pets seem to have nearly as many options as humans do when it comes to food, but it’s important to understand that different types of food are better suited to different breeds, sizes, ages, health conditions, and other factors. There is a large selection of dog food and treats to choose from, including dry food, wet food, biscuits, and chews. Cat owners can also find plenty of dry cat food, wet cat food, natural cat treats, and more to delight their feline friends. Always review ingredients and be willing to try different foods to determine which your pet likes best.

Health & Wellness Supplies

You should also have a variety of health and wellness supplies readily available. These include flea and tick treatments, dewormers to protect against parasites, and more. There are also many supplements to treat common medical issues in pets, such as digestive problems and joint pain. This is a great opportunity to build a strong relationship with your veterinarian and get their advice on the best health treatments for your new pet.

Grooming Supplies

Most pets will need to be groomed regularly to keep them clean, healthy, and looking their best. Every pet parent should be prepared with the right grooming supplies. Plan to give them baths with shampoo and conditioner, as well as brush out their coat with combs and brushes. Depending on the type of hair your pet has, you may also need clippers and blades to provide the occasional (or frequent) trim.

Searching for a full list of must-haves when adopting a pet? Check out Jeffers Pet’s blogs, New Dog Checklist: Supplies You’ll Need and New Cat Checklist: Supplies You’ll Need.

A gray tabby cat eating cat food out of a stainless steel food bowl.

Adopt Responsibly

Adopting a pet can be a much-needed source of joy during this uncertain time, but potential pet owners must always make sure they’re ready for everything that caring for an animal entails. Unfortunately, too many pets end up back in shelters because their owners were not prepared for the responsibility. If you’ve recently been thinking about getting a pet, confirm you’re doing it for the right reasons and know exactly what you’re getting into. It’s not fair to you or an animal to bring them into an environment that’s not right for them.

Here at Jeffers, we offer a wide array of pet supplies at affordable prices to help you and your new best friend get off on the right foot (or paw). Explore our selection of products for dogs, cats, and other types of pets.