Every pet parent remembers the magical moment they decided to adopt a pet and they first met their furry companion. Maybe your new dog raced out of her pet shelter pen to meet you, or your cat bravely licked your nose. Whatever the case, it was surely love at first sniff.
Adopting a pet shouldn’t just be an emotional decision—it’s a big commitment that requires careful planning. “Pets take up time, energy and money,” says Dr. Rachel Barrack, DVM, CVA, CVCH of Animal Acupuncture, in NYC. With that said, here are a few important things to consider when you’re ready to adopt a pet.
Consider Local Rules and Laws
If you are renting a home or apartment, be sure to check the lease and property rules for adopting a pet. Many apartment complexes have strict policies on dog breeds and weights, and you may have to pay an extra security deposit to bring home a furry friend.
And even if you’re a homeowner, many jurisdictions have breed-specific legislation that ban or restrict the keeping of certain dog breeds, such as Pit Bulls. A pet adoption service can help you navigate these rules.
Dog, Cat or Other?
When considering your living space, it’s important to evaluate both the interior and exterior of your home. Do you live in a small apartment? Your home may not be ideal for a large dog. Do you live in a high-rise condo with little access to grass? Maybe a senior cat is a great fit for you!
Evaluate how well your new pet will get along with your family. Very small dogs may not be well-suited for a house with young children prone to horseplay, while very large, strong dogs are probably not a good fit for elderly caretakers. Before you adopt, ensure that no one in your house has pet allergies, so you don’t end up having to give your new pet away.
It’s also important to consider your current pets before you adopt a pet, as they may not enjoy the new addition. “You want to create a cohesive living space with one big, happy family,” says Dr. Barrack.
If you want to get a pet as a surprise gift for your significant other or children, make sure the proper precautions are taken.
Make the decision to adopt a pet a family decision with a clear division of responsibilities. Do not assume your children will take care of the dog; when your children become teenagers, they may have completely different commitments to manage. Consider the fact that children grow up and move out; the puppy you adopted when your child was 10 years old will just be entering her senior years when your teenager goes off to college.
Think About the Future
Happily, pets can live a long time—you should assume a kitten will live 10-16 years—which makes assessing your future plans that much more important. It’s hard to predict what your life will look like in a decade, but don’t adopt a cat if your 5-year plan includes backpacking through Europe for an entire year.
Think about your day-to-day life, too. “Will you have time to walk and feed your pet a few times a day? Especially with young puppies, training takes time and patience,” Dr. Barrack says. If a dog or cat just doesn’t work with your lifestyle, consider other pets—hamsters, ferrets, birds and even fish can make wonderful companions for different people at different life stages.
Prepare Your Home
After you’ve chosen to adopt a pet, here are some ways you can prepare your home:
Get Some Food and Treats
Make sure your house is well-stocked with food and treats. American Journey Salmon & Sweet Potato Recipe Grain-Free Dry Dog Food is a grain-free, high-protein diet that’s perfect for your new dog. Made with real, deboned salmon and packed with amino acids, this kibble is formulated to fuel your dog’s everyday adventures. Serve it in Frisco’s Stainless Steel Pet Bowls, which feature a wide, rubber base that keeps them from tipping, even if your pet is extra hungry.
For treats, stock up on American Journey Soft & Chewy Training Bits. Crafted with real beef as the first ingredient, these small, bite-sized treats are only 4 calories each, which makes them an ideal reward for all your training sessions.
Stock up on Flea and Tick Prevention
If your dog or cat is coming home from a pet shelter or rescue group, it’s important that you clear them of any parasite infestations as soon as possible so the critters do not get into your home. K9 Advantix II Flea & Tick Treatment for Medium Dogs offers broad spectrum flea control and protection against ticks and mosquitoes, too. It comes in a convenient, monthly topical application. Frontline Plus Flea & Tick Treatment for Cats & Kittens doesn’t just kill adult fleas and ticks, but also slays the next generation of flea eggs and larvae. Plus, it works non-stop for 30 days on cats.
Prepare the Sleeping Arrangements
“When you bring your pet home, be sure to have a crate or pet bed for your new addition to sleep and feel secure in,” says Dr. Barrack. Frisco Fold & Carry Single Door Dog Crate is constructed to be strong and durable while providing your pet with safety, security and comfort. The large single door is easy to open, close and securely lock with dual latches on larger models. This dog crate includes a plastic base pan for easy cleanup and a divider panel that allows the crate to grow as your pup grows. If you add a soft Frisco Mocha Swirl pet bed, your pup will have a cozy den to curl up in. For kitties, the Frisco Pet Bed Cave makes is a quiet retreat that’s great for a catnap.
Choose Potty Time Supplies
“Make sure to have a litter box ready for your new cat or potty pads if your new addition is a small dog or puppy,” says Dr. Barrack. For dogs, you’ll want to have a high-quality collar and leash handy for your daily walks. PetSafe Premier Martingale Dog Collar gives owners greater control and reduces the risk of a dog backing out of his collar and escaping. PetSafe Premier Nylon Dog Leash is a soft, durable nylon leash that keeps you in control during walks.
Pick Out New Toys
Stock your home with fun toys and games for your new pet to enjoy. These activities help your animal bond with your family. Outward Hound Hide A Squirrel Puzzle Dog Toy is a hide-and-seek toy featuring squeaky stuffed squirrels hiding in a log. Put the squeaky squirrels inside the plush tree trunk, and watch as your dog sniffs them out. To keep the game going, just stuff them in again and again!
Next Steps After You Adopt a Pet
Schedule a Vet Visit
“Take your pet to your vet to receive a complete physical examination, schedule proper vaccinations, and/or arrange to have them spayed or neutered as soon as possible,” says Dr. Barrack. “Also get in the routine of scheduling checkups—your pet will thank you later!”
Train Your Pet
“Do your research to find a trainer or a method that is right for you and your pet,” says Dr. Barrack. Consider any firm ground rules you want to establish from the beginning—such as no dogs on the couch—and make sure to enforce them from the first day home. Reward good behavior with Triumph Grain-Free Jerky Sticks, healthy and holistic treats with amazing flavor that are great for dogs with food allergies.
Adopting a pet is a rewarding, life-changing decision. Enjoy the journey!
Caitlin Boyle is a writer from Charlotte, North Carolina. Her hobbies including trail running and planning fantasy vacations. She has two dogs, Maggie and James, and a cat that believes he’s a dog, Ferguson.