SCHAUMBURG, Ill., Oct. 8, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- October is both Adopt-A-Dog Month and Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reminds pet owners to carefully consider your family, home and lifestyle before bringing a new canine companion into your home.
"Adopting a dog is a fun and heartwarming experience that can transform your life for the better, but it's also a very serious decision that shouldn't be taken lightly," says Dr. Clark K. Fobian, president of the AVMA. "The primary reason dogs are given up to animal shelters is unfulfilled expectations, so before you even consider bringing a dog into your life it is crucial to take time, involve your family, and give careful consideration to your expectations and the needs of the dog to be sure it's a good match. Your local veterinarian is an excellent resource for answers to your questions."
Questions to consider before adopting a dog include:
*What kind of activity level are you seeking from your new pet?
Consider what you like to do—and don't forget your roommates and family—to determine what qualities your new best friend must possess. For example, if you are a runner and you're hoping for a four-legged jogging partner, you may want to consider a more active breed of dog that won't have trouble keeping up with you out on the trail.
An easy-going dog accustomed to lots of activity would be best suited to a household with children.
*What kind of special needs can dogs have?
Some dogs and breeds may be more susceptible to certain health problems that can be expensive to treat. Do your research and talk to a veterinarian about breed-related health concerns. If you are considering a mixed-breed dog, think about what traits may be part of that dog's DNA. For example, short-nosed dogs may be more likely to experience breathing problems, particularly in hot climates or when excited or stressed. Other dogs may have a hair coat that requires constant grooming or skin that has characteristics (e.g. wrinkles) that place them at greater risk for dermatological problems.
*What are the costs of purchasing or adopting a dog?
You are choosing a dog for life. Depending on where you acquire a new pet—whether from a breeder or a shelter—there is likely to be a one-time purchase or adoption fee. There are also long-term costs. Create a budget for your new dog and include nutritious food, appropriate shelter and bedding, training, toys to provide mental stimulation, and regular veterinary care. Additional costs may include professional grooming and boarding or pet sitting.
Regular visits to your veterinarian can help control some of the costs of pet ownership by providing you with preventive care that helps avoid and/or catch potential health problems early.
*Where should you adopt the dog?
Talk with local veterinarians, friends, neighbors and colleagues. Shelters in your community may have a great selection of dogs, including some purebreds, available for adoption. Other resources include purebred rescue groups and reputable breeders.
How can you be sure a dog is healthy before you adopt it?
A healthy dog has eyes that are clear and bright, a clean coat, isn't overweight or underweight, and doesn't show obvious signs of illness, like a runny nose or diarrhea. The best way to know for sure if a dog is healthy is to take them to a veterinarian for a checkup.
To view an AVMA brochure on how to select a dog, please visit: https://ebusiness.avma.org/EBusiness50/ProductCatalog/product.aspx?ID=124. For more information about the AVMA, please visit www.avma.org.
Founded in 1863 and now more than 84,000 members strong, the AVMA is one of the oldest and largest veterinary medical organizations in the world. Join us as we celebrate 150 years of education, science and service.
SOURCE American Veterinary Medical Association