Cat Diseases Uncategorized Adopting A New Pet? Your Basic Guide To Preparing For The Commitment

Adopting A New Pet? Your Basic Guide To Preparing For The Commitment

Each year, about 3.2 million pets are adopted from animal shelters. Adopting a new pet is a lifetime commitment — while you will outlive your pet, as soon as your pet comes home, they’re set for the rest of their lives. With that in mind, it can be a bit intimidating to prepare for the journey of pet ownership, especially if you’ve never done it before. While there is a difference, of course, between owning a dog or a cat, there are some basics that you should keep in mind no matter what type of pet you adopt. Similarly, you’ll face different challenges with a younger pet than you would with an older one — but animals are much less complicated than they may seem. Ultimately, what a pet really wants is to be loved and cared for. You can and should, however, take the proper steps to ensure that you’re ready for your pet. A big part of that involves educating yourself before they come home. Let’s delve into some of the factors you should consider before moving forward with your pet adoption.

adopting a new pet

Why Are You Adopting A Pet?

Ultimately, the main reason why you are adopting any kind of pet should include a desire for companionship and a desire to give the kind of love that your pet is going to offer. However, there are other reasons why you may want to consider adopting a pet. Yes, some animals are born and bred for companionship. Many of the small dogs that we love today are far cries from the working animals bred centuries ago. But many animals like having a “job” of some kind; in fact, giving your animal a task can make it much easier for your pet to deal with its energy. A lot of pets struggle with boredom and act out if they aren’t giving something to do. This should all be factored into choosing the type of pet you want, and how you’ll accommodate that pet’s specific needs.

For example, if you’re looking for a service animal, you can probably zero in on a dog — though there are exceptions to the rule. Service dogs are typically trained through organizations that provide them to those in need. Quite often, they are sourced from specific breeds; guide dogs, for example, are often selected from litters of Labrador retrievers, German shepherds, and golden retrievers. However, your service dog could also be a mixed breed. Service animals are chosen for their physical abilities to perform certain tasks, as well as their calm temperaments and high levels of intelligence. These types of animals typically have a high drive to please and want to perform complex tasks. But they aren’t the only types of animals that require occupations.

If you find yourself with a hound dog, you may very well find that it wishes to follow a scent, tracking other animals. This is because these dogs were bred to hunt — and while that may not be what you want of your pet, you should substitute training, tricks, and a good deal of physical exercise for hunting. A sheepdog needs similar levels of activity. You may want to make your dog your exercise buddy, or even take up a hobby like agility.

adopting a new pet

Of course, high energy dogs are hardly the only types of pets you can adopt! If you live in a big city, or in a smaller space in general, you may want to consider a small dog or even a cat. While it can be easy to understand that small dogs need to be trained and occupied just as larger dogs do, many dismiss cats as “self-sufficient”. That is, they don’t consider the level of commitment that a cat requires, or what sort of issues — like cat diseases, boredom, and destructive behaviors — can arise. A cat needs just as much love and care as a dog, and though your cat may sometimes want its “alone time”, it still needs to be given something to do. Many people in the past — especially those that live in the countryside — initially adopt cats not only as pets but helpers. After all, any exterminator can tell you that the best solution for a mouse problem is a cat! This tactic may not be as common in this day and age, you should keep in mind the fact that wild rodents can carry cat diseases, but all house cats are natural born hunters. They enjoy catching and killing smaller animals and can become unruly if they’re left bored. Therefore, it’s important that you make sure that your cat is played with often, ideally with toys that imitate the sensation of hunting. Add in a little catnip, and your cat will be overjoyed! There are plenty of cat toys on the market now that engage a cat’s mind, offering cats the intellectual stimulation they need. Something as simple as a scratching post, however, can make a big difference. If you’re a first-time cat owner, you’ll likely find one intimidating by itself. However, you should keep in mind that if you’re adopting a kitten, it’s often advised to buy two at once. They’ll bond together, and keep one another occupied. In contrast, if you’re adopting a puppy, it’s probably better to stick to one. Two puppies can bond overmuch, making them difficult to train. All of these factors should be considered when you’re selecting your pet — not just the type of pet you’re adopting, but the specific individual you choose.

How Will You Manage Your Pet’s Health?

From cat diseases, to unpredictable accidents — you can’t be blamed if you’re nervous about years of worry over your new pet’s health. But worry about what may or may not happen is no reason to avoid the joy of having a pet. For that matter, as long as you keep up with your pet’s health and engage in proper maintenance, you shouldn’t have much to worry about. Some pets, of course, are more likely to deal with health problems than others, especially if they’re over-bred and therefore predisposed towards genetic issues. However, many pets go through their lives without any significant health problems. Just in case, it’s a good idea to invest in pet insurance. Pet insurance can help you deal not only with regular check-ups but through situations in which more expensive treatments are necessary.

As soon as you adopt your new pet, you should begin taking into account basic healthcare. Part of this, of course, involves pest prevention. Dogs and cats, in particular, are prone to fleas and ticks. Not only are these pests irritating to pets — they also can cause infections, and more serious health problems down the road if left untreated. Of course, these types of pests don’t just affect pets. They can infest your home, and cause you a great deal of irritation as well, plus money lost. As soon as you adopt your pet, make sure that they aren’t already dealing with any particular pests. This can easily be ascertained at their first vet visit. Another thing you’ll want to undertake is putting your pet on a regimen that prevents fleas, tickets, and heartworms. Ask your vet about the best medications for your pet — and remember that younger pets often need to wait a little while before being put on medication.

adopting a new cat

Another basic step of caring for your pet’s hair involves specifically caring for their oral health. Many people fail to realize exactly how important teeth cleaning is for dogs and cats. Of course, you won’t want to treat your pet’s teeth just like your own. Yes, you can buy a toothpaste that is specifically meant for dogs and cats. You would be surprised by the amount of more complex dog and cat diseases that can be traced by to poor dental care. Of course, you should also have your pet’s teeth examined by a veterinarian. Don’t ever assume that you can take care of your pet’s medical issues on your own. If you have questions, ask a professional.

If you’re adopting a senior pet — or as your young pet grows older — you’ll want to keep an eye out for the typical signs of age-based dog or cat diseases, like rapid weight loss or stiffness. It’s important to know the difference between a minor issue that has gradually built up over time, and a serious problem. Foot pain is perhaps one of the most obvious signs of problems in a pet; it’s often an initial indicator of common dog and cat diseases. It’s not as if your pet can tell you that it’s feeling pain, or where. A limp can give away the fact that your pet is experiencing pain. However, more subtle symptoms exist as well, like biting or licking at their feet. Animals often bite and lick parts of their bodies that are in pain. You should also keep an eye on whether or not your pet is struggling with direction, or if it is slow to respond. This could be indicators that your pet is suffering from deteriorating vision or hearing. Not every symptom is a sign that your pet is suffering a serious illness. However, the best way that you can prevent minor dog or cat diseases from becoming more serious is to be proactive and engage in preventative care.

Are You Ready To Pet-Proof Your Home?

As if dog and cat diseases weren’t anxiety-inducing enough — your home can potentially be a danger zone for your pet. This is why it’s important to set up proper safety barriers as soon as possible, to ensure that your pet doesn’t run the risk of, say, getting into food that they shouldn’t, or choking on small objects. Cats, in particular, are prone to curiosity and have been known to knock down large objects, sometimes to the point of hurting themselves. Therefore, you’ll want to be a bit paranoid, especially if you’re adopting a young pet. Once your pet is used to their surroundings, and you know what they are and aren’t capable of, you may be able to relax a bit.

adopt a dog

Of course, much of this depends on the type of home you have. If your pet is going to spend a good amount of time outdoors in your backyard, you’ll want to make sure that your yard is fenced. It’s not a bad thing to give your pet some time outside — but you’ll want to be careful, and limit that time, while also supervising it. As soon as you adopt your pet, invest in a microchip. Microchips ensure that if dogs or cats run away from home, they’ll be easier to find and return to their rightful owners. Not only does this apply to animals that could escape from your yard — it also aids in the rare cases of theft that do occasionally occur. Even if you plan on walking your dog rather than letting it outside in your yard, even if you have an exclusively indoor cat, a microchip is an asset that all pet owners should consider.

Of course, you’ll also want to consider state laws as well. Most states require that pets — especially dogs — are licensed. They may also have certain conditions required for dogs that spend time outdoors. Most licenses will require proof of vaccinations against certain dog and cat diseases, as well as a small fee. Ultimately, these types of licenses are meant to monitor the pets in an area and ensure that they are all being properly cared for. By tracking vaccinations, they can also ensure that dog and cat diseases are not spread. It may be a hassle to get one, but in the long term you won’t regret it.

After reading about everything from cat diseases to all the things your pet can get into, you may be intimidated by the idea of adopting a pet. But you’re also excited, right? Your pet will be the most devoted companion you could possibly ask for. A pet doesn’t judge its owner or concern itself with gifts. It just wants to be with you. On that note, congratulations on your upcoming pet, and don’t worry! Over time, you’ll start to forget that you were ever concerned in the first place.

Author: Caroline Sibley

Caroline is a freelance content creator and creative writer.  VCUArts alum with a focus on the arts, travel, and culture.