So you want to adopt a pet? Congratulations! Bringing home a new four-legged family member is absolutely exciting. Whether you are adopting your first pet or adding to your furry family, you have much to consider and prepare for to ensure the process goes smoothly, and the transition is positive for you and your new sidekick. Read our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Richmond team’s tips for successful pet adoption. 

What are the benefits of adopting a pet?

Many people are surprised to learn the number of pets who become homeless every year. Pets end up in shelters for a variety of reasons over which they have no control, such as abandonment, or their owners’ financial hardship, health issues, move to a new location, or lifestyle changes. Pets who are relinquished to a shelter for behavioral reasons simply need an owner who is better suited to support their disposition. With so many animals in need of a home, pet adoption has many benefits, including:

  • Saving two lives — When you adopt a pet, you give them a chance to live in a new loving home. In turn, you open a shelter space for another in-need pet, saving another animal’s life.
  • Spending less — Adopting a pet is generally much less costly than purchasing from a breeder. Most shelters are not-for-profit organizations, trying to place pets in forever homes.
  • Supporting your health — Pets positively impact your physical and mental health. People who live with a pet enjoy the following health benefits:
    • Lower blood pressure
    • Improved cardiovascular health
    • Healthier weight 
    • Lower depression risk
    • Fewer post-traumatic stress symptoms
    • Reduced anxiety

How do I choose the best pet for my lifestyle?

Once you have decided to adopt a pet, you should consider the qualities you would like your furry family member to have. You must also consider your lifestyle and ability to provide for a pet’s unique needs. To determine the type of pet best suited to your lifestyle, reflect on the following questions:

  • Time — How much time and attention can you give a pet? Consider daily activities, such as one-on-one interaction, physical exercise, and basic care. 
  • Temperament — Are you a homebody or always on the go? What pet personality would match your energy?
  • Support system — Who will provide for the pet when you are unavailable? Does everyone in the home agree to welcoming a pet?
  • Finances A pet requires a financial commitment. Can you budget for a pet’s food, supplies, routine veterinary care, and unexpected medical emergencies?
  • Living environment — Do you live on acreage or in an apartment? What pet size and temperament would be comfortable in your living space?

Once you have reflected on your lifestyle and a pet’s traits that you would find compatible, research adoptable pets online. To help potential pet owners narrow down the number of pets in which they are interested, shelters usually describe adoptable pets’ personality types and needs.

What pet supplies should I have on hand before adoption?

Before you bring home your new pet, you should be prepared with essential items that will help make their transition to your home as smooth as possible. Start with the basics, and add to your supplies as you become familiar with your new pet’s needs. Before bringing home your new pet, ensure you have these essentials on hand:

  • Food and water bowls
  • Pet carrier 
  • Crate
  • Collar
  • Leash and harness
  • Comfy bed
  • Nutritious pet food
  • Treats 
  • Grooming supplies
  • Poop bags for dogs
  • Litter box and litter for cats
  • Baby gates
  • Chew toys 
  • Paper towels

How can I help my pet adjust?

Ensure you set realistic expectations for your new pet, and give them plenty of time and space to familiarize themself with your home. Your pet will likely feel nervous and confused for some time and will need your support and patience as they adjust. Set up a space in your home where your pet can retreat if they feel overwhelmed, and introduce them to new people and pets gradually, one at a time. As your pet becomes more comfortable in your home, begin introducing them to new places, people, and other pets. Remember that your new pet will need boundaries, consistent routines, and positive reinforcement as they learn the ropes. Follow training resources online, or hire a qualified trainer to practice obedience with your pet, help them gain confidence, and strengthen your bond.

To build your pet’s lifelong health foundation, schedule their wellness exam today. Contact our Neighborhood Veterinary Centers of Richmond team to schedule your new pet’s initial wellness exam within the first few days of bringing them home.