When you bring a new furry family member home from the shelter, you’ll need to focus on some important details to help protect your new pet, as well as make them feel like they are comfortable and safe with you. Adopting a shelter pet is a little different from bringing home a puppy or an adult dog from a breeder or pet shop. 

What to do when you adopt a shelter pet

A shelter pet has an uncertain past history, and this means you’ll want and need to do whatever you can to help you become aware of that uncertain past. There are a few ways that you can do that for your pet’s protection as well as your best bet for settling them into the family

1 Adopt from a reputable rescue shelter

A reputable rescue shelter or humane society will let you know about any special behavioral or medical conditions, so you do not end up with a rescue pet having costs or behaviors you are not ready to handle.

2 Find a vet you trust

A good vet is the most important professional that you can have at your disposal for your pet’s overall well-being. They’re not only responsible for helping you with medical and health procedures, but they also are great resources on information about breeds, attitudes, personalities, and more. Many can even recommend for you other advisors such as pet behaviorists and pet trainers, amongst others. For rescue pets, this can be a great way to help you get to the bottom of some confusing or unwanted behaviors.

Beware of “advice” from well-meaning friends or online sources. While some of these may be very knowledgeable and helpful, some are full of misinformation and it is very hard for you to know which is which. Take all such advice with a grain of salt! Even things you read here on our own website, feel free to check with your veterinarian anything you want to verify We do!

3 Look at getting a full health check done

When you bring your new family member home, you want to prioritize getting a full health check done so that you can know what you’re dealing with regarding the overall health of your new furry companion. Since they come from uncertain backgrounds, a full health check is recommended. Sure, it’ll cost a bit to get it done, but you’ll also have the best chance of knowing what you’re dealing with and if there are any issues that need to be addressed right away

The sooner that you start to tackle any pre-existing health conditions, the better your dog’s health is going to be.

4 Get them “fixed” if they aren’t already

Many times, adopted pets will be neutered or spayed already, as many pet owners do this in their first year. If they aren’t, however, it’s wise to consider the idea of getting them spayed/neutered right away. This is not required, but it is a seriously good idea. This prevents any accidental litter of puppies or kittens (or making those litters someone else’s problem), and it also will enhance their own health.  

5 Take it day by day

When it comes to training, adjusting, and learning how to be around each other, just take it day by day. It may take up to 6 months for you both to settle into a routine together, and there’s nothing wrong with that. One of the main reasons dogs or cats get returned is because they “won’t settle.” But a pet who has previously been abandoned may not settle in very quickly because they assume that it will happen again. You have to be aware of that fear if you’re going to be able to help your pet get past it.

6 Watch for triggers

Triggers are when being exposed to reminders of a past trauma causes re-experiencing symptoms of trauma. Triggers are a real thing, due to past abuse or fears. Your pet may react strangely to cats or birds or wildlife outside or even something like a certain household sound. Triggers can be difficult at times, so a vet or a pet behaviorist can be great support to help you sort out causes and how to deal with them.

Triggers can be desensitized and retrained if you work on them. It doesn’t mean you necessarily have to do that, but it can offer a lot of comfort for your pet when you are looking for a way to help them recover from an unknown past and find their place here in your family. It also helps you to build compassion for their history and be a better pet parent.

7 Enjoy!

There’s nothing quite like being a pet parent of a shelter pet. If you’re hunting for a way to enjoy being a pet parent that goes above and beyond the basics, adopting a shelter pet is one of the most rewarding ways that you can add to your furry family. You’ll be able to enjoy a new family member and also know that you are going to help a pet in need by giving them a new home.  

A shelter pet deserves love as much as another pet from a breeder and/or a vet. However, many shelter animals aren’t given the chance of a second home for a long time. While adopting versus purchasing is always a personal choice, bringing a shelter pet into your family can be a great experience!

Rescue pets are some of the best pets

Because they’ve been abandoned in the past, you’ll find that rescued pets are some of the best pets. They love you so much and want to spend the rest of their lives making sure that you never doubt just how grateful they are. This means lots of cuddles, plenty of attention and love, and a great focus on the bond that you can have with your pet. If this sounds like you, a shelter pet is going to be a wonderful choice to add to your family.

While many different pet choices may be attractive to add to your family, rescue pets are certainly going to be among some of the best. When you’re looking for a pet that is full of love, adventure, and experience, a shelter pet can give you all of these; all blended together with lots of attention dedicated to everyone living their best lives as a member of the same family.

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