Pet-proofing your home in preparation for adopting a shelter animal

The addition of a new pet to the family is always a cause for celebration. Stress can occur, too, no matter how welcome the new addition. When you’re thinking about adopting a pet from an animal shelter, some preparation can help ensure he or she is as safe and happy as possible.

“Pet adoption saves a life and enriches the lives of the family who adopts,” says Seth Estep, vice president and divisional merchandising manager for Tractor Supply Co., which sells pet supplies and coordinates pet adoptions at locations throughout the United States. “It’s such a rewarding way to bring a pet into your home when you adopt, it’s also important to do everything you can to make the adoption a success.”

If you’re thinking about bringing a pet into your home, keep these tips in mind:

* More than 350,000 pets from more than 13,000 animal shelters and rescue groups nationwide are looking for homes, according to Petfinder.com, a searchable database of pets that need homes. Twenty-five percent of dogs in animal shelters are purebred. Shelters accept dogs and cats of every size and age, as well as other small companion animals like birds, rabbits and ferrets. Whatever type of pet your family is looking for, chances are you can find your ideal forever friend through adoption.

* It’s easy to find a pet-adoption resource. In addition to shelters, many businesses and organizations sponsor pet adoption events. For example, Tractor Supply Co. is sponsoring pet adoptions Saturday, Sept. 20 at its stores through a partnership with Petfinder.com. The event, part of Tractor Supply’s Pet Appreciation Week, Sept. 17 to 21, celebrates the joy of owning pets. On Sept. 20, all locations will host adoptions, pet nutrition demonstrations, giveaways and in-store drawings. In addition, Petfinder.com can also help you find a shelter or adoption organization near you anytime.

* Before you bring your new pet home, consider your storage of foods that are dangerous to pets, such as avocado, coffee grinds, artificial sweeteners, grapes or raisins, chocolate, onions, garlic and pills that may fall on the floor. Take steps to ensure pets do not come in contact with these substances, such as immediately disposing of coffee grinds in outside trash bins, and storing potentially harmful foods in sealed containers where pets can’t reach them.

* Be aware of plants that are potentially toxic to pets. Indoors, poinsettias can be harmful, especially to cats. Outdoors, hydrangeas and azaleas can make animals sick if they chew on leaves.

* Coach all family members, especially young children, on how to interact with a new pet. Shelter animals may be shy at first, so it’s important for everyone to treat them with patience and love. Never allow children to pull an animal’s ears or tail, take food away from the animal, act aggressively toward the pet or disturb them when they’re sleeping.

* Discuss how your family will reward and encourage good behavior in your pet. For example, when a dog remembers not to jump on visitors, reward him with a treat or praise and petting.

* Prepare a pet emergency/first aid kit. It should include treatment for common ailments such as bee stings, bumps, abrasions and upset tummies. If you’re not sure what to include in your kit, consult your veterinarian or check out Petfinder.com’s guide on pet first aid kits.

* Pet proof your home as much as possible. Don’t leave out shoes (or other leather items like wallets) that could tempt dogs to chew. Be aware of stringy items that cats or dogs may swallow, such as hair ties, yarn or ribbon. Purchase a sturdy, tip-resistant trash can with a secure lid. Store cleaning supplies in a secure location where your pet can’t access them.

“There’s no question that having a pet can make you happier and healthier, and bring your family closer together,” Estep says. “With the right preparation, you can ensure your adoption goes smoothly for everyone – especially your new pet.”


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