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Vet Q&A: Protecting your pet’s health when you adopt

Posted by Jennifer on July 17th, 2013

One of the biggest concerns potential pet parents have about the animals for adoption at shelters and rescues is their health. Are pets for adoption at shelters and rescues healthy? Can my family and my pets get sick if they are sick? Pets at shelters are just like pets from any communal environment, including pet stores and commercial breeders. It’s good to educate yourself before getting a new pet, and we’re lucky enough to have had the chance to ask a well-credentialed expert, Dr. Mary Beth Leininger with the ASPCA Pet Health Insurance program, the most-asked questions many people have about adopting pets and their health! Dr. Leininger is a former President of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and co-owned a successful, American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)-accredited companion animal hospital in Michigan for nearly 30 years. Read on for the 2nd in our short series of shelter pet health Q&A articles, here’s the 1st article, and check back here next week for the last installment!

Q: I want to adopt a dog/cat, and I already have a dog/cat. How can I protect my current pet’s health?

Adopt-a-Pet.com says: Before adopting a new pet, have your current pet’s health checked by your vet. Your vet can make sure they are up to date on parasite protection appropriate for your individual pet and your geographical area, and make sure enough – but not too much – time has passed since your pet’s last  preventative vaccinations, so they are most effective. Your personal vet can also let you know about possible communicative illnesses common in your local area, that a new pet might be incubating and bring into your home. Follow your vet’s advice on isolating a new pet from your current pets. Depending on your current pets and the pet being brought in, vets may give the go-ahead for an immediate introduction, or may recommend an isolation period, especially if you have senior or baby pets.

Dr. Leininger says: There are several steps any current pet owner should take prior to adopting another cat or dog. Interested adopters should adopt from reputable shelters or rescue organizations. For example, it’s a good sign if they inquire about the adopter’s home before completing the adoption.

To protect your current pet’s health, you should make note of the adopted animal’s medical history. Let’s take a closer look at some important health-related items you should check.

Dogs:

  • Spayed or neutered?
  • Heartworm test (dogs older than 6 months) and preventive medication
  • Parasite testing and deworming treatment history
  • Temperament evaluation
  • Age and gender
  • Medical history
  • Microchipped?

Cats:

  • Spayed or neutered?
  • FeLV / FIV tested
  • Vaccination history
  • Parasite testing and deworming treatment history
  • Temperament evaluation
  • Age and gender
  • Medical history

That’s all for this week! Check back next week for our final installment of our mini-series of pet health Q&A with a vet, where you can find out about keeping an indoor cat healthy!

 
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