Caring for a companion animal goes far beyond providing food, water and shelter.

So you have decided to bring a shelter-pet into your home.

Rescuing a dog or cat is a rewarding and life-changing experience. Before you bring your new fur-kid homeare-you-ready-for-a-dog-12.53.23-PM-1-1 however, you should know that caring for a fur-kid  goes wayyyyy beyond providing food, water and a roof over their head.

Seriously…..it takes research and careful planning to bring the right pet into your home, and to make sure your lifestyle is the right one for your future pet.

Before rushing to your nearest shelter, ask yourself the below questions to help you prepare for responsible pet ownership:

Why am I getting a pet?

Remind yourself of why exactly you are bringing a pet into your life. Is it because you are looking for the loyal and steady companionship that an animal can offer? Or perhaps you are hoping to fill the empty space after a previous pet has passed? Are you giving in to pressure from your significant other or children, who have been asking for a furry friend every day for the past month? It is important to know the reasons why you are getting a pet so that you can make an informed decision on which pet to bring home. You should be clear in what you expect from your pet, as well as what the pet will expect from you in terms of care, exercise, training and companionship. When adopting, you are making a commitment to care for an animal for the rest of his life—that could mean 10 to 15 years for dogs and up to 20 years for cats. As you go through lifestyle changes such as moves, the birth of children and new jobs, your animal will remain a permanent part of your life. If circumstances change, you need to be confident that you can still care for your pet, they depend on you!

What kind of pet is best for my lifestyle?

Your personality and lifestyle, including the amount of time spent at home, should be explored to determine what pet is right for your household. Ask shelter staffers what animals they recommend—they’re experts at making perfect pairs! At the ASPCA Adoption Center, we use a program called Meet Your Match, that evaluates dogs and cats based on their individual canine-alities sand feline-alities and helps find their perfect person-ality match! If you are outdoorsy and active, an elderly dog who would rather lay on the couch then run the trails is likely not the best match (despite his adorable face). Likewise, if you lead a leisurely lifestyle, that bouncy and energetic puppy will probably be overwhelming. Talk to all of the members of the household and ensure that you are all on the same page when it comes to the type of pet you are looking for. Everyone should be aware of the significant changes that having a pet brings to the table, and chores and responsibilities should be agreed upon before bringing that pet home.

Are my finances in order, and am I prepared for an emergency?

While this might not be the most fun topic to think about, it is an important one. At the ASPCA Adoption Center, all cats and dogs are spayed/neutered, up-to-date on vaccinations and microchipped before they leave our doors, which saves the adopter hundreds of dollars upfront. Food, future routine veterinary care, and supplies do add up, so before bringing home that adorable cat or dog review your finances and feel confident that these costs are manageable. Unfortunately, accidents to happen and you should also prepare yourself for unexpected veterinary costs.

Am I prepared to pet-proof and adjust my living space?

Whether it’s tightly sealing your garbage cans or paying attention to dangerous decorations during the holidays, you’ll need to make your home safe before adopting. That includes keeping toxic foods, pet-unfriendly plants and dangerous household items out of paw’s reach. No more leaving those just-baked cookies on the counter, you will need to pay attention to your daily routines and activities and make some adjustments to ensure the safety of your new pet. If you value expensive and delicate furnishings, think long and hard about what a pet could do to those pieces. Not to say you can’t have nice things when you have a pet, but be realistic in your expectations and acknowledge that your new dog doesn’t know the difference between an expensive oriental rug and their own dog-approved bed!

Where should I go to get my new pet?

You have already made the commendable decision to adopt, and not buy from a pet store, way to go! Did you know that most puppies sold in pet stores and over the Internet come from puppy mills? A puppy mill is a large-scale commercial dog breeding operation where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs. Dogs in puppy mills live in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, without adequate veterinary care, food, water and socialization. These poor animals do not get to experience treats, toys, exercise or basic grooming. You can learn more about puppy mills by visiting NoPetStorePuppies.com, where you can take a pledge to not buy anything at stores that sell puppies. By doing some basic research, you can find the shelters nearest to you and work with them to find your new pet. 

Now that you have your new addition to your family, keep Paws Pet Care Pet Sitting & Dog Walking in mind for when you can’t get home in time to feed Fido, if he/she needs a walk…or you just need a helping hand.  We’re here for you!  Give us a call at 502-802-5052 or visit our services page for more information on how we can help you and your fur-kid adjust.