October is National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month! Perhaps you’re thinking of adding a furry friend to the family. Before you head off to visit your local shelter, it’s important to consider these four factors.

Consider the age

Puppies are cute and cuddly. They also tend to go to the bathroom wherever and whenever the urge hits them, and they often like to chew on just about anything that can be chewed. Are you ready to housetrain a puppy? Are you ready to risk your favorite pair of shoes?

Conversely, if you have young children and/or other pets at home and opt to adopt an older animal, will the playfulness of the little ones irritate your new senior pal? Will you be able to financially handle the medical needs of a senior pet?

Consider the other animals

Will your new pet get along with your existing animals? When you bring home a new dog or cat (or rabbit or hamster or backyard chicken), you are essentially giving your existing pet a new sibling. There will no doubt be growing pains, but it is important to be sure the animals can get along before committing. Bring your current pet to the shelter with you to meet your potential adoptee.

Consider the kids

Many dogs are relinquished to shelters every year because they don’t do well with children. If you have kids, or if you plan to begin a family in the coming years, it’s important to do your research and ask the shelter about the animal’s history with children.

Consider the commitment

Does the shelter animal you’ve fallen in love with have special needs? Will he need regular grooming or an exorbitant amount of exercise? Does he require medications? When you adopt an animal, you’re making a commitment that should last for the lifetime of that pet. If his needs are more than you can physically, financially, or emotionally handle, you should consider adopting an animal that would be better suited for you.

Don’t forget to schedule a wellness exam for your adopted shelter pet. Contact us to make an appointment.