9 Things to Check Before Adopting a Stray Dog or Cat Avoid Any Sort of Unpleasant Surprise After Adopting a Stray Animal

9 Things to Check Before Adopting a Stray Dog or Cat

A stray animal might or might not have a world of health issues. If you are not prepared, you may incur a hefty vet bill. Therefore, you must check several things before adopting a stray animal.

Have you ever considered adopting a stray dog or cat? There are many reasons to do so. A stray animal can be a great companion, and it helps them find a home. You might also feel like you are saving their life. However, if you're considering adding a new member to your family, you must know what you're getting into before going through it.

Are They Microchipped?

A dog or cat brought to a shelter may be microchipped. The animal will have had a small device implanted under its skin by a veterinarian, which can be scanned and read by a scanner. If the animal you want to adopt is already chipped, check with your local shelter or humane society to see if they have any information about where the pet originated. If you find out that your new dog or cat has been reported missing, call the original owner immediately to tell them they've found their beloved pet.

Do They Look Healthy?

If you're thinking about adopting a stray dog or cat, it's crucial to be able to spot the signs of illness. Checking for ticks, fleas, and worms will help you determine if your new furry friend has something that needs treating before they get into your home. While checking for parasites, look at the skin and coat condition. Is it dry? Is there excessive shedding? Are there any patches missing? Does their fur look too thin or matted?

As far as other health issues go, check eyes (are they red), nose (is there any discharge?), ears (do they look clean), teeth (are they sharp), and paws/feet (do they appear injured). These are all things that could point to possible problems with health in a stray dog or cat.

Behavioral signs of illness include lethargy and depression; watch out for these indicators when assessing if an animal is healthy enough to adopt from a shelter or rescue organization. You should also pay attention to dehydration by watching out for sunken eyes, loss of appetite, excessive saliva production, vomiting/diarrhea, decreased urination frequency, slow breathing rate, and sunken chest area when lying flat on your side.

Do They Have Missing Limbs or Signs of Injury?

If you see a stray animal with missing limbs, it may have been hit by a car. It can cause significant pain and suffering, so checking whether they're missing any limbs before adopting them is essential.

If you notice that the animal has signs of injuries or abuse, such as scars or bruises on its face or body, this is also something to consider. While many of these marks could be expected for certain dog breeds (like boxers), it's still worth considering how old an injury might be before deciding whether or not you want to adopt them. 

Do They Have a Collar?

Does the animal have a dog collar with a name? If so, it could be a lost pet that needs to be reunited with its owner. If no dog collars are found, you will want to check your local animal control or humane society to see if they have any information on who owns the dog or cat. If no one has reported them missing (or you aren't sure), they may be stray animals.

If the animal doesn't have any tags and wasn't microchipped, then there's a chance they aren't vaccinated yet. It means more money is spent on vaccines and other preventative care. So make sure you know what vaccinations your pet needs before adopting them.

Have They had Flea Medication Last Month?

If you adopt a stray dog, you may have to deal with fleas. If the animal were a stray for long enough, it would be expected for the animal to have developed fleas. You should ask the vet if they know anything about this and whether or not flea medication for dogs was applied in the last month. It will be easy for them to tell you if yes or no because your dog has received treatment from them within the past 30 days, which is when most vets recommend applying another dose of medication.

Flea medicine for dogs and a flea collar are cheap and effective. Most over-the-counter medications start at around eight dollars per month for dogs weighing more than five pounds (or three dollars per week). Dogs under five pounds tend to cost less than their larger counterparts because they require smaller doses of flea meds for dogs in order not just to cure but prevent the infestation from ever happening again.

Are They Up to Date on Their Shots?

The first thing to do before adopting a stray dog or cat is to make sure that they're up-to-date on vaccines. Vaccines are essential for your new friend's health and public safety, so it's best to ensure that they have been vaccinated against common diseases such as rabies.

Before you adopt a pet from a shelter or other rescue organization, check their records to see if the animal is up-to-date on his vaccinations. You'll want to ensure they've had all necessary shots and also determine what kind of vaccines he received (rabies is required by law in most cases.) 

Also, find out if there are any particular circumstances. Some animals come with an expiration date on their shots because they were given during a time when shelters couldn't keep up with vaccinations as much as they should have been. In these cases, additional fees may be associated with getting updated vaccines for your new pet.

When you adopt an animal from another owner instead of an animal shelter or rescue organization, it's even more critical that you get all the information about his vaccination history. Find out exactly when he was last vaccinated (and what kind of vaccine) so you can keep him safe from dangerous diseases like rabies by keeping him current with his vaccines every year.

Are They Neutered or Spayed?

First, you must ensure that the dog or cat has been fixed. If a stray animal hasn't been spayed or neutered, it's much more likely to get pregnant and have babies. It can be very inconvenient for you because now you have to deal with the extra mouths to feed and litter boxes to clean, not to mention all the other additional responsibilities involved with having pets.

Secondly, fixing your pet will also help prevent diseases like FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus) or FeLV (feline leukemia). While these viruses are rare among neutered/spayed cats and dogs, respectively, they're still there nonetheless, and they're something we'd rather avoid if possible.

Finally, getting your pet fixed before adopting them out makes them more affectionate towards people and less likely to spray when stressed out by their surroundings or other animals around them.

Have They Been Tested for Heartworm?

If you are adopting a stray dog or cat, there is a good chance they have not been tested for heartworm. Heartworm is the most severe disease that can affect your pet. It is caused by the parasite Dirofilaria immitis, which lives in mosquitoes and infects dogs and cats when an infected mosquito bites them.

Testing your pet for heartworm is essential because if left untreated, it can cause serious health issues such as severe respiratory problems, paralysis, and liver damage. If detected at an early stage of infection (within six months), you can administer treatment with medication to eliminate the worms and prevent further damage. Heartworm prevention for dogs is possible through various medications like Heartgard for dogs, Heartgard Plus for dogs, and other heartworm pills for dogs.

Have They Been Tested for Rabies, Parvo, Distemper, and Rabies?

The main thing to check for is whether or not the animal has been tested for rabies, parvo, distemper, and rabies. Rabies is a virus that causes brain damage and death if left untreated. Parvo is a virus that can cause diarrhea and vomiting; distemper is a virus that can cause coughing, sneezing, and runny eyes. If you're adopting an animal, you should also ensure they have been vaccinated for these.

If you're adopting an animal from somewhere like the humane society, it will be pretty easy to find out if they've had these vaccinations done because their records are online. Or if you adopt them from someone else, they'll let you know what they've done before coming home with you.


We're not advocating that you adopt a dog or cat as a fashion accessory, but we are saying that if you do want to bring one into your life, then it's worth taking the time to research what you are getting into. Having a pet isn't just about caring for them; it's also about being responsible and ensuring that the animal will be happy in their forever home. If this sounds like something you would consider doing, we hope this article has helped prepare you for adopting an animal from a shelter or rescue center soon.

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