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Articles and Advice from our Pet Expert

Ready, Set, Adopt a Pet

KristenBuckSo you’ve decided to adopt a pet - congratulations! You’ll be saving a life, gaining a best friend and becoming part of the pet overpopulation solution.

Adopting a pet is incredibly rewarding. The love of a rescued dog or cat knows no boundaries. But remember, adopting a companion animal is a big step, and one that will affect your lifestyle for many years.

Before you sniff out the perfect pet for your family, be sure your family has a serious discussion about what lifestyle changes to expect when a pet joins your home and decide if you are prepared for them.

First, a pet requires a committed relationship. Keep in mind that dogs can live up to 15 years—sometimes longer. To get an idea of how long a pet's lifetime may be, think about how old you will be 15 to 18 years from now.

Also, consider whether you are prepared to go the distance with a new pet. Most people don't live in the same place for 15 years, and moving with a pet can bring problems. The time to think about these problems is before you adopt any animal.

If you’re getting a pet for your children, don’t expect the kiddies to do all the work. No matter how mature your child is, he or she will need constant supervision and help handling the responsibility of a cat or dog. Ultimately, the parent is responsible for the pet.

A new pet will affect your finances too. Adopters should consider the expenses they will incur by caring for an additional “family member.” The cost of pet food, veterinary care, boarding, grooming, toys and more can add up to a first year total of $800-$1,600 for a dog, according to a pet care costs analysis by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

Perhaps the biggest investment you’ll make in a pet is with your time. Will your family be willing to divvy up the responsibilities that will take time away from other priorities? Time will be required to feed, walk (dogs), clean up after, bathe and groom your pet. You’ll also spend time playing with and loving your pet, because after all, companionship is one of the greatest benefits a pet brings to a family! You’ll also need time to take your pet for regular veterinary visits. Once you’ve decided you’re prepared to meet the commitments a new pet requires, this is where the fun really begins! Follow these helpful tips from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) as you choose your new best friend.

Ready, Set, Adopt

  1. Before you adopt a pet, talk to family members about what they want. Discuss everyone’s likes and dislikes. Large dogs may be too strong or active for young children, for example, while some people may simply prefer cats over canines.
  2. Do a little research to learn which breed types match your family’s lifestyle. Some breeds are naturally more aggressive or high-strung than others. Breeds such as Labrador and golden retrievers are known to be more even-tempered and well-behaved around children.
  3. Know that some animals and young children may not play well together. Young children may unwittingly mishandle or hurt puppies and kittens, which are particularly vulnerable to being injured. On other hand, baby animals may have needle-sharp nails and teeth that can hurt children.
  4. Make sure a pet suits your home and lifestyle. Family members may have their hearts set on a large, active dog, but that particular pooch may not be the best choice for your circumstances. Or perhaps you like the look of a long-haired cat, but aren’t so keen on daily brushing.
  5. Visit the private and municipal animal shelters in your area as well as any pet adoption events held in your community. You can also search for your new furry friend online at
  6. Work closely with adoption counselors at the shelter or with the foster parents at a rescue organization to make sure the pet is a good fit for your family.
  7. Stock up on supplies, food and toys before you bring a pet home. Make Fido or Fluffy feel welcome with all the comforts of home. The last thing you want is to rush to the store for a litter box and hope that your new cat will patiently wait for your return!
  8. Create a schedule to share responsibility for caring for your pet. A schedule is a great way to get the family involved in your pet's care and ensure that no one forgets to walk the dog or feed the cat. It will also help foster relationships between your new furry friend and everyone in the house.
Kristen Buck60x60

Written by:
Kristen Levine, Pet Lifestyle Expert

October 26, 2009

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