Before you adopt an animal stop and think… can you provide a loving, caring home for the rest of the animal’s life?  There are many things to consider before re-homing an animal, and if you do make the decision to adopt there will probably be equipment to buy and house (& garden)-proofing to be done before the new addition arrives.

First consider the questions below…

  • If you rent your property do you have permission from your landlord to keep pets?
  • Do you have a garden available, and is it adequately fenced so that a dog could not escape?
  • Has the whole family discussed the implications of owning a pet?
  • Have you considered the feeding costs?
  • Have you considered the veterinary costs and thought about insurance?
  • Have you considered the costs of neutering/spaying?
  • Have you considered the costs of vaccinations, and are you aware that annual boosters are necessary to keep the vaccinations up to date?
  • What would happen to the pet if you were to go away on holiday?
  • Are all the members of the family aware that if they walk the dog they must pick up faeces, and are they willing to do so?
  • Do you understand that a rescued or badly treated animal may take some time to settle in and will require love and patience to be accepted as part of the family?

Dogs are pack animals, and as you consider him a family member, he considers you his pack.  Dogs should not be left alone for long periods (fours hours should be a maximum), and getting a second dog is not the answer.  Saying that, your dog should be comfortable with you leaving him, safe in the knowledge that you will be returning.  Some dogs suffer from separation anxiety, and this is quite common in rescue dogs as their life has been disrupted and they need to build a new bond of trust.  If you are working full time or may be in the future, question whether a dog is for you.

Unlike with cats you are responsible for your dogs actions, and if he were to cause an accident you are liable.  Taking out insurance is a good idea as it covers you in the unfortunate case of your dog causing an accident or damage to property, in addition to covering medical costs in the cases of illness or accident.  To minimize the chances of accident, make sure the dog is secure when in the house and garden, that no gates or doors are left open, and the dog should always be secured on a lead when out walking along the streets.

Worming and de-fleaing of your dog/cat should be routine.  Check with your vet as to which products will be best for you.  If you have more than one pet in the household it is best to de-flea them at the same time, and it might also be a good idea to use a product on the carpets and furniture.

Microchipping is a fantastic way of returning a lost animal to it’s owners.  Microchipping is not just restricted to dogs – cats, rabbits, horses and even birds can be microchipped.  The pets details are kept on a national register and animal pounds, rescue facilities and veterinary practices all have microchip readers and it is standard practice to scan all ‘lost’ animals.

Exercise and mental stimulation is a definite requirement for all dogs and cats.  It is amazing the effect of regular exercise.  Dogs that are walked for an hour each day, are a lot less prone to behavioural issues.  Obviously different breeds of dogs require different levels of exercise so this should be kept in mind when selecting your new companion.

Essential Equipment For Your Dog

A collar & identity tag is not only very important if your dog were to go missing it is also required by law.  You will also need a lead to take your dog out on walks… although you do see people walking by roads without their dogs on a lead you are legally supposed to.  Also, even if you completely trust your dog not to run away or run into the road there is a first time for everything… he could get spooked and run off.  Find a safe place to play before letting him off the lead.  But really we are jumping ahead here as it could be a while after adopting a dog before you are both ready to remove the lead.  Practice recall in the house and garden, and maybe use a line to start with so that you can haul him back in if he doesn’t come back on command.

Your dog will need a comfortable, cosy bed free from drafts where he can sleep undisturbed.

Water & food bowls – fresh water should be available at all times.  Ceramic or stainless steel bowls are easier to clean and more hygienic than plastic bowls.

Food – dogs tummies often don’t take well to having their food changed… although it might seem boring to us to have the same food day in, day out, dogs are really ok with it.  If you do want to change their brand or type of food do it gradually over a week so they can get used to it.  Dry complete food or meat?  It really is you and your dogs preference.  Dry complete is more convenient for the owner and the crunching of the biscuits is good for the teeth.  If you are unsure, or your dog isn’t responding well to his current diet, see your vet for advice.

Grooming equipment – this will vary depending on your dog’s coat.  It is good practice to groom your dog daily, even with short-haired breeds as it builds a bond between you and gets them used to being touched all over… once comfortable with the contact they often really enjoy the attention.  Teeth also need to be cleaned to prevent a build up of plaque which can lead to sore gums and expensive dental bills.

Playtime is important for dogs, and so toys are also on the list.  They should be tough and safe.  No small parts.  Buy proper toys that are made for dogs and get ones suitable for the size of your dog – for example small balls for large dogs are a bad idea.  It is often a good idea to have a few special toys that belong to you, not your dog, that you get out to play with together then put away once playtime is over.

If you are planning on travelling in the car with your dog, some kind of car restraint will be required.  As with yourself and your children it is also dangerous for the dog to be loose in the car if an accident were to occur.  He could also jump around the car and distract the driver causing an accident.  Methods of restraint include using a dog guard to keep him in the boot, a harness or seatbelt or a crate.

Crate training can be useful for many cases.  When introduced correctly a crate is a comfort zone to the dog and he will choose to retreat there when he needs time alone.  A crate has benefits when you want to leave the dog for short periods and when traveling.

The PDSA offers a veterinary service for those on full council tax benefit.  This does count some people on benefits out who may genuinely need their help from time to time, but unfortunately some people abuse the system whenever possible and don’t respect that the PDSA are a charity.  If you do require the PDSA’s assistance they would really appreciate some kind of donation in return.

Cat neutering vouchers are available from the Cats Protection for those owners who are on benefits.

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