1) When adopting a puppy/kitten its like having a NEW BABY in the house IT IS A LOT OF WORK! but it is also TONS OF FUN!
2) Think about what breed of Dog/Cat do you want. Do you want something with Long Hair or Short? Do you want a show dog/cat? a lap dog/cat? A big giant dog that thinks it is a lap dog?A hunting dog? or just a good old dog? www.akc.org is a good place to start researching what breed of cat or dog you want.
3) Think about your families lifestyle. Are you generally busy and in and out of the house a lot? How often do you vacation? How old are your kids? and Are they ready for the families responsibility of taking on a new pet? A good book to read is called The Perfect Puppy, I dont remember who wrote it but its a book that we recommend at my clinic.
4) Once you have picked a breed or two to choose from RESEARCH RESEARCH RESEARCH! Be a GOOD consumer. Know what breed of dog you really are choosing, Know where your pet is coming from, in other words are the parents AKC registered? Have they had their Eyes and Hips certified? If you are buying from a pet shop do you know if the puppy came from a puppy mill or an actual breeder?(The pet shops can provide proof)
5) If you buy from a breeder, do research about the breeder too. Make sure that they are a registered breeder. Also make sure that they don't breed with in their genetic lines. BE CAREFUL of getting a pet off of websites like Craigslist. And most importantly BE VERY CAREFUL OF DESIGNER BREEDS. I can not tell you how many of those little puppies end up having MAJOR issues!Some breeds just were not meant to be blended together. Also real breeders will always have a contract of some kind with you. They will usually be willing to take the puppy back if you can not keep it, and they almost always make sure that the puppy has had a well pet check and a vaccine or two before they go to their new home. If you adopt from a shelter RESEARCH the shelter, if it is a reputable rescue/shelter like The Humane Society, Homeward Pets, Petfinder.com, or like 24 hour pet watch you should not have to worry. There are also a lot of purebred rescues as well.
Now once you have adopted your new furry family member be sure to take it into your vet with in 7 days of bringing your pet home. This way you yourself can make sure that your pet is healthy.
When finding a veterinarian if you don't already have one again DO YOUR RESEARCH. Don't go to places that are what I like to call "Drive through Vets" Your pet deserves quality care. With all the ways we have to obtain information there is no excuse for not doing your research. Make sure that your vet is reputable. Call around not just for prices, but ask them things like , How long have you been in business? Why should I choose you as my new Vet? How long have all of your doctors been there? and how long have they been practicing for? Also ask them.. If you were not able to get me in for an emergency appointment what is the name of another vet that you would reccomend me to? Also ask if they have any specials or packages to offer. AND make sure you know where the Emergency Veterinary Clinics in your area are located, and that you know if they are open 24 hours are just at night.
Here are a couple things that you will need to do at your first vet visit:
- Make sure that you BRING ALL THE ADOPTION PAPERWORK WITH YOU. This will help your vet know if your pet is due for vaccine boosters and what vaccines it still needs such as Bordetella, DAP, Rabies, Leptospirosis, Corona Virus for dogs and FHCP, FELV/FIV, Rabies for cats .. the list of different vaccines could go on. What vaccines your pet will need depends on where you live. And make sure that you finish your puppy/kitten vaccination series. Usually vaccine boosters will need to be done about 3-4 weeks apart, and then boosted one year later every year thereafter. Some vaccines like Rabies and DAP/FHCP are good for three years at their one year check up. It is also recommended that if you have a senior pet (age 7 or older) that they see a vet for an exam every 6 months and they are current on their vaccines.
- Bring a fecal (poop) sample to have it tested to make sure that your pet does not have intestinal parasites.
- Discuss spaying/neutering your pet and get an estimate. If it came from a shelter/rescue chances are you wont need to do this. It is important that you spay your female pet BEFORE she goes into heat. Once she goes into heat the cost of the spay goes up due to the extra time it takes to tie off all the blood supply to the uterus. Not to mention every male dog with in a 5 mile radius will be at your door. As for males you will want to neuter as soon as you can. Un-neutered males tend to be more aggressive, less submissive and well lets face it.. if they smell a female in heat they will be going NUTS! Usually about 16 weeks of age is the best time to spay/neuter your pet.
- Start your pet on Flea and Tick Preventatives as well as an Intestinal Parasite and Heartwom preventative. I recommend Frontline and Revolution for the topical treatments and Sentinel or Interceptor for the internal preventatives. (we will discuss this more in detail later) AND KEEP THEM ON IT! It is more expensive to get rid of those parasites in your home than it is to prevent them. You will need to do this YEAR ROUND. It is safe to use both preventatives together. When you use both preventatives you are not only protecting the outside of your pet you are protecting their insides too! Also when you don't use a preventative you are putting yours and your children's health at risk as well. Some veterinarians have a rebate program in place so be sure to ask if yours does. Some vets will send home samples too! Make sure that when your pet is a puppy/kitten you bring them in monthly for at least the first 6 months for Cats, the first year for small breed dogs, and the first year and a half for large breed dogs to have their weight checked. In order for your pet to get the proper dose of preventative medicine you will need to know how much it weighs while it is growing up until it reaches its adult weight.
- Be prepared to talk vaccines. Ask what vaccines does your pet need. Discuss whether or not you are going to be at dog parks, puppy classes, boarding at a kennel or at the groomers, camping, hunting or fishing.
- GET YOUR PET MICROCHIPPED! This will insure that if Fido or fluffy gets out he/she will be safely returned to you. Or if someone does happen to steal your dog it is the only way that you can prove that the dog is yours. (Unless it has an AKC # tattooed on it) and DON'T FORGET to register your pet with the microchip company and keep your info updated because if its not your pet cant get back to you.
- Ask questions! There is no such thing as a dumb question. Be informed! Don't forget to talk about puppy classes too. A lot of times Veterinarians will have a couple of good affordable trainers or puppy classes to recommend.
If you have any questions like always feel free to ask.
Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian and I can not diagnose your pet or prescribe medications. If you think your pet is having a medical emergency or needs medical attention see your veterinarian immediately.