Pet-proof your home before adopting a shelter animal

In October, we decided to adopt a pet to our family. We already had our English Bulldog and our Corgie, but we didn’t have a cat. The morning news was talking about pet adoptions and explaining that the animals are healthy, have had their shots, and are spayed or neutered, so we looked up local Austin animal shelters that had cats for adoption.

adopting a shelter animal

After a trip to Austin Pets Alive!, e ended up with our sweet cat, Madison (she was already named, but it fits her) seen on this post. Even though she was a little scared of us the first week, she quickly moved past that fear and became an important member of our clan. Now, a year later, she basically runs the house and has us trained to buy her treats, rub her belly, and play with her when she wants. And we love it…and we love her.

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. 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, 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.

Pet-adoption resources

It’s easy to find a pet-adoption resource. In addition to shelters, many businesses and organizations sponsor pet adoption events. For example, Austin pet sitters have sponsored adoption events in its stores through a partnership with In addition, can also help you find a shelter or adoption organization near you anytime.

Dangerous Foods for puppies

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.

Toxic plants

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.

Patience & love

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.

Reward & encourage good pet behavior

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’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, With the right preparation, you can ensure your adoption goes smoothly for everyone – especially your new pet.

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