I’m going to adopt a dog from a shelter. I think it’s the right thing to do. But I’m concerned because I hear shelters are breeding places for contagious diseases. What kinds of things should I look for to make sure the dog I pick is going to be healthy? What are some things I should be wary of?
Adopting a pet from a shelter is a great idea. First, make sure you pick an animal that appears healthy and meets your other criteria for a good pet for your lifestyle and family needs. Second, take your new friend to your veterinarian for an examination within the first few days of bringing him or her home. If you have other pets at home, set up a quarantine area until you get the exam done. Most shelter animals are perfectly healthy, but there are a few diseases that don’t become apparent for a few days to a week after exposure. Upper respiratory disease is the most common problem in these pets, but normally the symptoms are minor and respond well to treatment. Parvovirus is more of a concern as it can be a deadly disease. Again, look for pets that appear to be healthy and use a reputable shelter.
Dr. Anderson is a 1996 graduate of Iowa State University. She has worked at the Animal Medical Center for 11 years. Dr. Anderson lives on a farm in Noblesville, IN, with her husband, 2 sons, 7 dogs, 6 cats, 5 chickens, 3 horses, and 1 turtle.