How to Care for Pets as Adoption Rates Rise

Carrington Vet Technology Students with German Shepard

While many are having to quarantine due to COVID-19, others have opted for a furry companion during isolation. Animal adoption centers across the nation are seeing a surge in pet fostering and adoption rates as Americans continue to abide by stay-at-home orders. ASPCA, Humane Society and others have seen an increase in COVID-19 pet adoptions as well as pet fostering.

Shelter and rescue organizations nationwide are reporting unprecedented interest in fostering and adopting as people who are sheltering-in-place turn to kittens, puppies, dogs and cats for comfort during the coronavirus crisis,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

So as the adoption rates continue to climb, we thought it would be best for our furry friends to share some tips for those who are looking to adopt. Here is what you need to know from Veterinary Technology Program Director at Carrington College in Stockton, Candace Morton:

1. Learn the breed(s) characteristics of your new pet. Ideally this is done prior to adoption, but it’s important for you to understand the natural characteristics of your pet. Are they a high energy breed? Are they a protective breed? Cats are generally more similar, but dogs can vary greatly.

2. Redirect their behavior. Cats scratching on couches or furniture? Make sure you have something for them to scratch. There are a variety of scratchers you can get, and it may take some experimenting to see what your cat likes. I have found what works best with my cats is when they scratch on the furniture and I make a loud noise similar to forceful hiss, they don’t like it and stop. With the kittens I use cat nip on scratching posts to encourage scratching where it’s appropriate.

3. Crate training. This is specific to dogs, but crates can become a safe place for dogs, and it keeps them out of trouble. To easily crate train, feed your dog in their crate morning and night. Take your dog out to potty before bedtime and if he/she cries at night go outside, give potty command but do not play. Once they go to the bathroom, give praise and return to the crate. Don’t let them out instantly when they cry, give it 10 minutes to see if they need to potty or if they are just complaining. Crates are also a good place for a time out with puppies that are getting too excited or playing too rough. This is not used as a punishment, but as a redirection of behavior.

4. Obedience training. For dogs, spend 10-15 minutes each night teaching your new dog the basics. Sit, down, stay, wait and come. There are many YouTube videos that you can watch for guidance. Incorporate the family into these training sessions so your new dog listens to everyone. It does not matter the age.

For cats, they can get a little aggressive when playing, so if this happens walk away and stop the play. If they are on an elevated surface (bed, couch, etc.) put them on the ground. Eventually they will learn that play stops when they misbehave.

5. Keep them active and healthy. Once your pets have all their vaccines take them on walks. It’s great for all of us to get exercise as well as them. If your pet didn’t come with their full series of shots, there are many low-cost vaccine clinics around.

6. Establish a routine. What was your daily routine prior to COVID-19? What will your routine be like when we return to “normal?” Make sure to have a plan for your new pet. My dog currently can be left out of his crate for no longer than 4 hours, but beyond than he gets crated. This is for his safety, so he doesn’t get into things he is not supposed to.

Under normal circumstances, there are about 6.5 million companion animals that enter animal shelters nationwide every year, according to estimates from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Yet as early as March 15, online foster applications in New York City and Los Angeles saw an approximate 500 percent increase from traditional application numbers, according to an ASPCA spokesperson.

So, what are some of your thoughts on adopting and caring for a new companion?

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