Adoption: Puppy or Adult?
This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care.
Always follow the instructions provided by your veterinarian.
Spring comes every year and new
life suddenly abounds. Nowhere is this phenomenon more apparent than in the
pet section of the classified ads. Puppies and kittens of every shape,
color, and breed are suddenly available en mass and to fit any price range.
Before an individual catches this “Spring Fever” and is tempted to buy a
puppy or kitten; they should consider the “strings” attached to these little
furies, and instead consider adopting an adult animal.
Puppies and kittens are beautiful, fluffy, and incredibly cute as they
tear about your house and discover all that is new in their world. However,
they’re also nave to appropriate “pet” behavior and need training. Effective
house breaking requires taking the animal outside several times throughout
the day and watching them to praise good toileting behavior. If a new owner
doesn’t have the time to devote to proper training they’re setting
themselves up for frustration; worse yet, they maybe sentencing their new
pet to a life, or death, at the animal shelter.
Directly linked to house training a new puppy or kitten is the rigorous
feeding schedule their growing bodies require. To prevent obesity and growth
deformities, young animals shouldn’t be allowed to eat as much as they
please. Instead, they should be fed measured portions of food through out
the day. Additionally, most animals go to the bathroom within one hour of
eating. So, after each feeding, the puppy or kitten should be taken outside
for a house-training lesson.
In addition to the feeding and house-training demands, young animals
require more veterinary care. Their vaccinations are not simple boosters for
pre-existing immunity. Their shots are administered in a series that
requires multiple veterinary visits. Most veterinary clinics offer very
reasonable rates for puppy/kitten vaccinations, but the time necessary for
multiple clinic visits can’t be altered. Also, skipping the vaccinations
altogether is never a good idea. Without the vaccinations the young animals
are especially susceptible to potentially fatal infections.
Given all that, now consider adopting an adult animal. As a benefit to the
new owners, most adult animals from shelters are already house broken, and
will communicate when they need to go out. Additionally, prior to adoption,
the animals are spayed or neutered and some cats are already declawed.
That’s an investment in veterinary care that you’d have to make with a puppy
Finally, the animal shelter pets come with a behavior profile so you know
what commands they understand and what their temperament is like. Perhaps
the best “benefit” to adopting an adult animal is the knowledge that you
saved their life. Nationwide more adult animals are destroyed than puppies
or kittens, because the adults are less likely to find a home.
Acquiring any pet has intrinsic costs and responsibilities that must be
taken into account. Before you open your home to an animal, look at your
life style and decide what would be best for you and the animal you’re
adopting. Think carefully about adopting an adult animal. It may be one
of the best decisions you ever make.
This Pet Health Topic was written by Sarah Hoggan, Washington State
University, Class of 2001.
Washington State University assumes no liability for injury to you
or your pet incurred by following these descriptions or procedures.
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