October is “Adopt-a-Dog Month®” and that means families across the country are considering bringing home a furry bundle of joy.
Pets bring innumerable benefits into our lives. For example, petting or playing with an animal is proven to lower both cortisol levels, a hormone that measures stress, and blood pressure, according to the National Institutes of Health. And families with pets are more likely to spend quality time together, and their children are more likely to be visited by friends. For some families, owning a pet brings better mental and physical health.
Millions of dogs are languishing in our nation’s shelters and need your help. But don’t make the mistake of rushing a dog home without preparation. Sadly, many dogs are returned to the shelter after being adopted because their families didn’t think through the full impact of owning and caring for an animal.
If you or a loved one are considering adopting a dog this month, either through a shelter or rescue group, run through this checklist before you do so:
Have you prepared for the cost of dog ownership?
Covering the cost of a living, breathing animal isn’t always what folks expect. Dogs should be properly fed, groomed and given good medical care. On average each year, the typical dog owner spends more than $235 on food alone, close to $100 on grooming and over $250 on routine veterinary care. Costs can go up or down depending on a dog’s breed, age, existing health problems and where you live.
Have you lined up veterinary care?
Most shelters will be able to provide medical records on the animals in their care. You will want to refer to these and see what else needs to be done. Has the dog you’re interested in been spayed or neutered? Do they have all their vaccines? Will they require flea, tick or heartworm medication?
Before bringing a dog home, make sure to line up veterinary care beforehand, and bring your new family member in for a checkup within the first few days.
Do you have time to spend with your dog?
Some families don’t notice how much time they spend away from the house until they bring a dog home. Between work, volunteering, picking up the kids, grocery shopping and everything else the modern family does – finding a few minutes of downtime at home can be surprisingly difficult.
Make sure that you or your family will have enough time to properly care for your dog. Socializing them so they’re comfortable around humans, taking them on plenty of walks for good exercise and having fun playing around.
Does your lease or living agreement allow for a dog?
Always read through your lease or any housing agreements you may have signed before bringing a dog home. And prepare your space for shedding and slobbering. It is never a bad idea to invest in a high-powered vacuum that excels at picking up large clumps of fur!
Do you want to have more fun, love, and happiness in your life?
Finally, owning and caring for a dog is a lot of work, but that shouldn’t overshadow the innate joy in the bond between people and dogs. An overwhelming majority of dog owners report that their pet brings companionship, love, and affection into their lives. And really, who could say no to that?