Are you thinking about bringing a new family member home? If you’re considering a puppy, you may be wondering where you can find the perfect one! Here’s how to select the right pup for your family.
What Adopting a Puppy Means
If you’re still in the early stages of considering adding a puppy to your family, there are a few things you should consider, especially if this will be your first dog or pet. Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you have time to care for and entertain a dog?
- Will he be home alone a lot?
- Do you have the time and patience needed to train a puppy?
- Do you have the finances to support a new family member?
- Who will take care of your dog if you go on vacation?
- Are you prepared to care for your puppy for its entire life? (Some dogs can live up to 18 years!)
- Is your whole family on board? (It’s often not advisable to give a puppy or another pet as a present. Find out why here.)
- Are you prepared for all the challenges that come with owning a dog? (Bathroom accidents, medical emergencies in the middle of the night, old age, and more)
Consider This Before Adopting a Puppy
Selecting the right dog for your family is a process. Your living situation could affect the type of dog you bring home. Here are some things to ask yourself before finding a puppy:
Where Do You Live?
While you may not consider it important at first, where you live can absolutely affect your adoption decisions. Apartments, for example, may not be best for a more active dog, and they may not be big enough for larger breeds. If you want a puppy that needs a lot of exercise, like a border collie, a yard with room to run around is best!
Apartment complexes and home insurance companies may also restrict the breeds you can bring home. Some dog breeds that are generally prohibited include:
- German shepherds
- Pit bull terriers
There may be others that are blacklisted.
Do You Have Kids?
Some dogs can be great with children; others not so much. It’s important to pick a dog that gets along with the whole family. Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, and beagles are three great examples of puppies that are generally wonderful with kids due to their laid-back natures.
Other breeds are fantastic in other family situations, but may not be happiest with children around. Dalmatians, for example, can be jumpy and need calm. Chow chows can have a quick temper and may to bite when upset or riled up.
On the other hand, it’s important to note your kids’ ages and personalities. Younger children may not understand completely how to care for a young dog, especially smaller breeds like the chihuahua, and could accidentally hurt your new puppy.
Do You Have Other Pets?
You may already have furry family members. Don’t forget about them when choosing a dog! If you have a cat, basset hounds, beagles, and papillons are great examples of breeds that get along with others. Bluetick coonhounds and whippets, though, have a strong prey drive and can pose a risk to cats, kittens, and other small animals.
Some dog breeds also get along with dogs better than others. Golden retrievers, Corgis, and Irish setters generally make wonderful companions for dogs.
How Much Attention Can You Give Your Dog?
Your new puppy will need—and demand—your attention. If you work a full-time job, you’ll want a dog that is okay being alone most of the day. When you get home, how much patience or energy will you have to spend with your new family member?
Consider these things when it comes to your spare time:
- How much grooming will the puppy need? – Some dogs, especially with longer fur, need more grooming than others. You’ll need to dedicate time each week to this task.
- How much energy does the dog have? – Adopt a dog that matches your energy level. If you like sitting around doing nothing, find a pup that shares this interest.
- How much time do you have for training? – A well-trained puppy grows into a well-trained dog, and remember: Some dogs learn faster than others!
How to Find a Puppy
Now that you’ve asked yourself those questions and have an idea what you’re looking for, it’s time to find your puppy! Here are some places you can look for your newest family member:
Local Shelters and Animal Rescues
One of the best places to find your new puppy is at a local rescue or shelter. They always have dogs that are looking for homes and often have puppies. And don’t think you can’t find purebred dog at a shelter. You’ll be surprised! Often, you can also put in a request for a particular dog, and the shelter will call you when one arrives.
If you’re not sure which dog is right for you, ask the workers. They spend so much time with the animals that they usually get to know their personalities inside and out! They will likely be able to help you find a great fit if you tell them about your:
- Living situation
- Needs and wants
Many pet stores carry puppies, but it’s important to do your research into selecting a store. Some buy from puppy mills, which may mean health problems for your new pet and is potentially supporting unethical breeding practices.
If you find the pet store gets their dogs and other pets from reputable sources, you may just find your new family member there!
There are hundreds of professional dog breeders. From goldendoodles to German shepherds, it’s possible to find the exact breed to fit your lifestyle, family, home, and needs.
Much like pet stores, the key is finding a reputable and professional breeder. Do research into the breeds that pique your interest, and check official websites regarding those dogs. They will often supply the contact information of established and trustworthy breeders to ensure you bring a well-bred and healthy puppy home. The American Kennel Club, for instance, has its Breeder Referral Search here.
There are several red flags to keep an eye out for when searching for a dog from a breeder:
You’re not allowed to see his parents – This could mean the dog is being sold secondhand, the parents have health issues, or the mother is constantly pregnant.
The breeder won’t meet you at their home – This could mean they’re from a puppy mill and not a reputable breeder.
They offer three or more breeds – Many breeders only focus on one or two breeds. If the breeder you’re looking into focuses on several, it could point to a puppy mill.
There’s no contract – Generally, breeders care about what happens to their puppies when they leave their care. A contract includes paperwork that states the new owner will spay or neuter their new family member, care for the puppy, and return the dog if they decide he is not for them.
The breeder promises the dog is “perfect” – There is no way to tell for sure that a puppy is absolutely free from genetic issues or will have a specific temperament. If a breeder makes extreme or excessive promises, it could point to problems.
Finding your puppy is an exciting and wonderful time. Knowing what to look for and how to find it makes the start of this new relationship even better! Ask yourself the important questions to narrow down the right breed for you and your family. Once you know what will fit your needs, it’s time to start your search. Whether you’re getting your puppy from a shelter, a breeder, or a pet store, the time you take now will help ensure you select a healthy and well-cared-for dog.
If you’re bringing home a new puppy, a check-up is always recommended—and we’d love to meet him! To schedule your pup’s first appointments and get him on a vaccination schedule, give Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital a call at 281-693-7387.
The Many Personalities of Cats
It doesn’t take a cat lady to realize that cats come with many personalities. Some are friendly and love humans, others are shy and keep to themselves, and there are some that will hiss at anyone they see. Dogs aren’t the only pets that have their own personalities; cats have them in spades!
If you’re planning to adopt a cat, you should learn as much as you can about its personality beforehand. Some people want playful cats, while others may like low-maintenance cats that don’t require much attention. What most don’t want are aggressive or destructive cats.
Look for the red flags!
When it comes to cats, first impressions are important. Just like with dogs, you should choose your feline friend carefully, as each cat has a different past.
First, speak with someone at a reliable shelter about every cat, and learn their pasts. Some cats come from nice households, while others grew up mistreated. While the latter definitely deserve second chances, they may exhibit undesirable behaviors.
Besides asking about each cat’s general behavior, ask about:
- The cat’s vaccination history — Is Fluffy up-to-date on all her vaccines?
- House-training — Is the cat house-trained, or will you have to teach it how to use a litter box?
- Past health — Has the cat had a history of illness?
- Reproductive health — Has the cat been spayed or neutered?
After gathering some information, approach the cat you want to adopt. Does it come to you? Does it hide? Does it hiss? The cat may be stressed, so don’t dismiss it as an option just because it hides or hisses. Ask a vet whether this cat’s behavior is common or if there’s something unusual about it.
Does the cat scratch a lot? Scratching is a behavior you’ll have to teach your feline to control, so if you’re not up to the challenge, don’t adopt a cat that’s prone to scratching. And while it may be tempting to consider declawing, think twice: Declawing a cat is like ripping the fingernails off a human.
Another red flag to watch out for comes when you pet the cat. Some cats like being petted, but others may be stressed out by it. If the cat seems aloof to your rubs, and you want a cat that you can pet, look elsewhere.
Red flags don’t mean you can’t adopt.
Just because a cat has a behavioral issue (or issues) doesn’t mean you shouldn’t adopt it. The truth is, finding a perfectly behaved cat is as difficult as finding a perfectly behaved human! Fluffy may have a hard time using the litter box, may scratch things she isn’t supposed to, and may be a little scared of your house at first, but you can still train her. However, if a cat exhibits a lot of issues in the shelter, it may be worth considering whether you can give it the attention and training it deserves.
If you’re ready to adopt, head to your local shelter, and see what cats they have for you!
Over the past few years, dog breeders have been getting a bad rap, and sometimes for good reason. You have probably heard of the horrific conditions that many puppy mills are host to, and, as a result, adoption has been seen as the best way to bring a four-legged friend into your household.
Some people, however, would rather purchase a pup from a breeder. Maybe your local shelter doesn’t have the right fit for your household. Perhaps you want to start fresh by raising a new puppy. How can you buy a puppy from a breeder and be certain you made the right decision?
The good news is that there are dog breeders who are responsible! While you shouldn’t buy a puppy from most pet stores, you can find reputable breeders who care about their pups as much as you do!
Finding That Responsible Breeder
You’ll have to do a little digging to find the right breeder. Asking people for referrals should be your first step. Ask your local veterinarian and friends who own healthy pups from breeders for information about where they found their dogs and why they felt confident in those breeders.
Do some research on any breeders you come across as options. Questions to ask include:
- Where are the breeder’s puppies coming from?
- Are the dogs prone to diseases?
Find out as much as you can before meeting with the breeder.
Breeder Red Flags
Even if your research doesn’t turn up anything of concern, you should still be vigilant when you meet with breeders. Here are some basic red flags to keep an eye out for:
Selling the puppy to you immediately if you have the cash
A responsible breeder will want to know if you’re a competent parent for the pup you’re trying to adopt. Most of the time, an irresponsible breeder is only doing the job for the money and won’t care where their pups find homes.
Refusing to show you where they breed their puppies
A responsible breeder will be more than willing to show you the breeding process, so you can see how healthy the puppy you’re going to adopt will be. If the breeder tells you the facility is off-limits, they may be hiding something.
Not telling you of any possible genetic dangers
Puppies of certain breeds may be prone to specific illnesses or other problems. A good breeder acknowledges this and will give you tips on how to best raise and care for your new family member.
Keeping dogs in poor conditions
If you see dogs who look dirty, cramped, or sickly, don’t adopt from that breeder, and give the Humane Society a call.
Not giving you any references
Your breeder should be willing to give you the information of previous clients to whom you can speak. A breeder who isn’t forthcoming about past clients may be hoping you won’t dig for more information.
A responsible breeder will not do any of the above. They will show you around their facility and disclose the pros and cons to you of adopting their puppies. They won’t give away any of their puppies until they know that you’re the right fit.
While it’s good to consider adopting a dog before buying one, many breeders run clean, healthy, and happy businesses. If you feel like purchasing a dog is a better fit for your family, you can find the right breeder and bring home a puppy that lives a happy and healthy life.
One of the biggest surprises you can get your child for Christmas isn’t the latest game or gadget, but a pet. We’ve all heard the stories of kids being elated as they open up their gifts and get pounced on by a ball of fluff. The thought is enough to make your heart warmer than hot cocoa.
If your child has been asking for a puppy or a kitten for Christmas, you may be tempted to go out and make their dreams come true. However, owning a pet isn’t like owning a new video game console or a bike. A pet is a big responsibility, and you should use logic rather than emotions when considering one.
What’s the problem with Christmas adoption?
Many families that adopt pets during the Christmas season usually do not have any prior pet experience. Instead of making sure they’re capable of owning pets before they make the commitment, families adopt and soon realize the puppy or kitten was more than they bargained for. After a few months the animal is sent to a shelter, the child is upset, and the parents feel awful.
Here are a few important things to consider before surprising your child (or anyone else) with a puppy or kitten for Christmas.
Do you have the time and money?
Being the owner of a pet makes a dent in your wallet. Pet food, visits to the vet, tailoring your home to make it pet-suitable…these all add up. Many parents spend a couple hundred dollars on adoption fees, thinking that’s the most they’ll pay. This is a mistake.
If you’re a parent who works a lot or finds yourself flooded with extra-curricular activities, you should realize that owning a pet requires time out of the day. You’ll need to be around the house a good deal to take care of your pet, especially during its first few months in your home! If you can’t do that, you may want to hire a pet sitter.
Is your child responsible enough?
A pet can teach your child about responsibility. He or she will have to feed, water, walk, play with, and clean up after it. Parents can’t do all the work!
While this responsibility can help a child mature and realize how difficult it is to take care of something else, if your little one is irresponsible, easily distracted, too young, or too rough with animals, you may have to wait a little while until he or she is ready for a pet.
Can you train your puppy or kitten?
Odds are, you want to surprise your child with a puppy or a kitten and not a full-grown animal. This is fine, but young animals require lots of training. This means patience, determination, and persistence from both you and your child. If you’re unclear on how to train an animal, you’ll want to do more research before you adopt.
Think about it!
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bring home a four-legged friend this Christmas, but you should put some thought into it, do your homework, and prepare beforehand. Do you have the time, money, resources, and responsibility for a puppy or kitten? If so, surprise your child! If not, choose another awesome gift for Christmas this year.
If you suffer from pet allergies, you may think that adopting a cat rather than a dog is a better choice. Cats tend to be smaller, so they don’t have as much fur, and they don’t often seek your attention by pouncing all over you, so they’re naturally better for allergies, right?
Actually, cats can be even worse than dogs for allergy sufferers. Why is that?
What causes cat allergies?
Many people think that fur causes allergies, but this is a misconception. In truth, people with cat allergies are allergic to a protein found in the dander, urine, or saliva of a cat. This protein is called Fel d 1, and unlike dog allergens, Fel d 1 can stay in the air for quite a long time.
Reducing Allergy Symptoms
Does this mean you can’t own a cat if you have cat allergies? Not at all!
You can reduce your trouble with allergies by making some changes to your home.
- Don’t let your cat into your bedroom. — If your feline has been in your bedroom, clean it as thoroughly as possible. Wash the sheets, clean the drapes, and vacuum to remove dander.
- Replace your carpet with hardwood floors, if possible. — Dander can accumulate in the fibers of carpet. If you can’t replace it, use an allergen-free vacuum, or steam clean your carpet regularly.
- Clean out your cat’s litter box on a regular basis.
- Regularly brush and groom your cat to avoid shedding and dander.
- Install a HEPA filter.
- Open up the windows or turn on the vents in order to remove allergens easier.
- Try allergy shots in order to reduce your episodes.
- Adopt a hypoallergenic breed.
A hypoallergenic cat is any breed that is less likely to shed or have dander, thus reducing the risk of an allergy attack. It should be noted that there is no breed that is allergy-free, but if you adopt a hypoallergenic cat along with allergy-proofing your home as described above, you can boost the chances of you and your feline living in harmony.
Here are a few hypoallergenic breeds that may surprise you!
- Balinese — Despite this feline’s fluff, it’s less likely to shed dander, thus making it hypoallergenic.
- Siberian — A Siberian is even fluffier than a Balinese, yet it doesn’t give off much dander, making it the perfect hypoallergenic cat.
- Bengal — This breed doesn’t shed as much as other cats and doesn’t need too much grooming, either!
- Sphynx — The sphynx is the most obvious breed, as it doesn’t have hair, making it one of the most hypoallergenic cats out there.
- Javanese — These mysterious felines have just one layer of fur, making them great for allergy sufferers.
If you struggle with cat allergies but just can’t imagine living without one, look for a hypoallergenic cat! You could be cuddling sneeze-free in no time.
One of the best ways to invite a four-legged-friend into your life is through adoption. There are millions of animals looking for homes. By adopting one, you give it a chance at love and life. Adoption costs little, allows you to fight against puppy mills, and adoption counselors can help find a pup that’s the perfect fit for you.
The process of adoption does require research, thought, and care. At a shelter, you’ll find a variety of dogs with a variety of pasts. Some pups have been abandoned by loving families that can’t care for them anymore. Other dogs have been raised in abusive or uncaring environments, or even without owners at all.
Because of their unfortunate pasts and/or the stress of living in a shelter, some dogs can exhibit negative behaviors. These behaviors can include:
- Separation anxiety
- Being possessive/aggressive over their food
- Peeing indoors
- Hoarding resources (food, treats, toys, etc.)
Signs of Negative Behavior
While these specific behaviors may be tough to spot at the adoption center, you can sometimes see the signs.
- The dog barks at you excessively, growls, or lunges — It may have trouble adjusting to new and strange people and situations.
- The dog is too calm when you approach it, not reacting at all — This could possibly mean it doesn’t like strangers, or it may not be feeling well.
- The dog remains at the back of its cage, whimpering and shaking — This may mean that it is afraid of people.
- The dog barks happily and acts very playfully — This could indicate that the dog is friendly but needs training.
Approach a pup’s kennel calmly. Ask to take the dog for a walk, and see how it reacts around others. Be sure to ask the shelter about the dog’s history to help determine if the pup is right for you.
If a pup exhibits red flags, should you avoid it at all costs?
No, not necessarily. Most dogs you’ll find in shelters are broken, but you can help put the pieces back together into something even better than before.
Here are a few tips for eliminating negative behaviors.
- If your dog is fearful of others, give it have some space — Some pups take a bit of time to warm up to new owners. Training them won’t happen overnight.
- Spray the dog with water if it tries to pee in your house — The dog won’t like it, but it won’t hurt the pup.
- Try crate training in order to reduce separation anxiety.
- Hire a professional dog trainer if you’re struggling to train your pup.
Remember that no dog is perfect, but with appropriate behavioral training and guidance, your rescue dog has great potential. Do some research before going to the shelter, and keep your eye out for negative behaviors that can be made positive!
Having a pet is one of life’s great joys, but when making the decision to add an animal to your family, it’s important to remember that your new addition is more than simply a companion – it is a living being that will rely upon you to ensure its safety and care.
Instead of turning to pet shops, where many animals are treated as merchandise, why not look for a new friend at a reputable animal shelter or rescue organization?
One of the best ways to make certain that you are selecting a pet that is appropriate for your lifestyle is to have the assistance of a reputable shelter, with staff that is dedicated to matching the animals in its care with people who will provide them with loving and healthy environments.
Finding an organization with good values and healthy practices for the animals it takes in requires doing a bit of research, but by asking the right questions, you’re sure to find one committed to making perfect matches between animals and owners.
Start by asking friends and neighbors who are pet owners where they got their animals. They’re sure to provide you with plenty of details. And so will your local veterinarian!
Decide whether you want a specific breed.
If you’re interested in a particular breed, you can find rescues that specialize in all types of animals. If you love the idea of caring for a senior or a special needs animal, you can find organizations for these as well.
Ask these questions.
Once you’ve narrowed down your search, ask the following questions to ensure you’ve found a shelter that puts animals’ needs and health first:
- Does the shelter provide health checks and veterinary care for the animals it receives? Are the animals provided with vaccines, spay/neuter services, and safety identification?
Reputable rescues and shelters will provide all of these services, including microchipping or tattooing animals for future identification.
- Does the shelter provide behavioral assessments of animals before adopting them out?
A shelter that shows concern for how an animal handles different situations will be one that ensures each animal has proper placement for its unique temperament.
- Does the shelter have a good relationship with other rescues and shelters?
When you check in with local veterinarians, trainers, or other animal professionals, do they say good things about the shelter? People who care about animals and work for their betterment form a small and close-knit community. They know who does good work, and they know who to steer clear of.
- What is the shelter’s adoption screening process?
Though it may seem silly to you that you have to be interviewed and approved before you can adopt a dog or cat that needs a good home, a shelter that is meticulous in its pursuit of good placements is one that you can have faith in.
- Does the shelter allow you to tour its facilities?
A place that keeps people away from where the animals are kept is one to be questioned. Shelters should have open-door policies, so you can walk through and see that the animals are being well cared for and that the shelter practices good hygiene.
Finding the right shelter from which to adopt your new family member can take a bit of time, but it’s worth the effort to work with a group that has the right priorities for both you and the animals you love!