Adopting a Pet: What You Need to Know

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You want to adopt a pet, but how do you know where to find one? What are the steps to adopting a pet? How do you know if you have all the right toys, food, and training supplies? Most importantly, how do you know if you've chosen the right companion for your family?

Figuring out the details of how to adopt a pet and worrying about the unknowns can feel overwhelming to prospective pet parents, but don't let that keep you from rescuing an animal. Just take the questions one at a time, until you know you're ready to commit to bringing home a new four-legged friend.

Where Should You Start Your Search for a New Pet?

Start with your local animal shelter. Check their Facebook pages or websites for updates on the animals they have available to adopt. Stop in frequently and meet the staff and discuss your needs and desires in a potential new best friend. They can be on the lookout for an animal that they believe would be a good match for your family. Tell them about what your wants are and your ability to care for certain animals. Do you have kids, a big backyard, do you travel often? Helping them understand your lifestyle will help them figure a pet that meets your needs that you can love for years.

While researching different pets available for adoption make sure to do your research on caring for a new pet. If you're a new pet parent, you're likely nervous about bringing home a new friend, but luckily for you there are a lot of great online resources to help you in your new pet parenting journey including Hill's New Pet Parent portal.

Little kitten in the shelter elegantly posing in a cage

How Will I Know If I've Found the Right One?

Falling in love is easy, but can you promise a lifetime of better to this animal? Thinking through all the issues of bringing a new pet home is one of many steps to adopting a pet so that you don't end up returning the pet to the shelter — a heartbreaking scenario for everyone involved. Some questions and issues you should consider as a family before choosing a pet, include:

  • Will the new dog or cat get along with the other members of the household? For instance, some animals might not do well around young children. Meanwhile, a rambunctious dog might not be a good choice for a home with an elderly person. What about other pets you might have in the home?
  • Who will be the pet's primary caretaker?
  • Can you afford to care for an animal on an everyday basis and in case of emergencies?

Make sure to talk to shelter staff, the foster family, or anyone else who has been in regular contact with the dog or cat you're thinking of adopting to get a better sense of the animal's personality and any issues he might have. While certain breeds do tend to have personality traits, every cat and dog have their own individual personality which is where staff can be very helpful. Most shelters also allow you to take a perspective pet into a room to interact with them and see how well you connect.

What Resources Can I Turn to When I Have Questions?

Explore the Hill's Pet Care Center where you can find news, tips, advice about caring for cats and dogs, and even more information on how to adopt a pet. Also, check out Hill's My Pet Companion, which is focused on giving you everything you need to be the best pet parent you can be including coupons, health and training tips, pet care reminders and much more. The best part? Joining is free!

Additionally, you should also never hesitate to ask your vet for advice if you have concerns about your dog or cat's behavior or health. Finally, reach out to friends and family or other pet parent groups that might exist online for help and advice. Keep in mind your pet is unique and what works for other dogs and cats won't always work for your new pet, but their past experiences can give you good ideas on how to provide the best home for your new buddy.

There's no doubt about it: adopting a pet is a big commitment. But nothing feels quite as good as rescuing an animal that was without a home, and knowing how to adopt a pet is the first step. The rewards can be enormous—both for you and the animal you've rescued. You've given him a good home with a loving family, and in return, he's given you his whole heart. By doing your research, preparing for a new pet's needs, and thinking about the future can go a long way to guaranteeing you've made the right decision for you, your family and your new pet.

Contributor Bio

Kara Murphy

Kara Murphy

Kara Murphy is a freelance writer and pet parent who lives in Erie, Pa. She has a goldendoodle named Maddie.

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