Considering Dog Adoption? Check These AVMA Tips


Selecting the right dog to adopt is no easy choice. Like selecting a life partner, it’s a decision that you’ll live with in the long term, through thick and through thin. Unlike selecting a mate, though, you don’t get a long courtship to make that decision! We know firsthand from our own adoptions of Tiki and Irie (seen here in her Petfinder photo from the shelter) that it’s a tough choice but one that’s so very rewarding!

Today we’ve got some guest tips from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Since October  is both Adopt-A-Dog Month and Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, we know many of you are considering the topic of adoption. The AVMA has these excellent questions for you to ask your family before you head to a shelter or rescue to look for your new best friend:

  • What kind of activity level are you seeking from your new pet? 

Consider what you like to do—and don’t forget your roommates and family—to determine what qualities your new best friend must possess. For example, if you are a runner and you’re hoping for a four-legged jogging partner, you may want to consider a more active breed of dog that won’t have trouble keeping up with you out on the trail.

An easy-going dog accustomed to lots of activity would be best suited to a household with children.

  • What kind of special needs can dogs have?

Some dogs and breeds may be more susceptible to certain health problems that can be expensive to treat. Do your research and talk to a veterinarian about breed-related health concerns. If you are considering a mixed-breed dog, think about what traits may be part of that dog’s DNA. For example, short-nosed dogs may be more likely to experience breathing problems, particularly in hot climates or when excited or stressed. Other dogs may have a hair coat that requires constant grooming or skin that has characteristics (e.g. wrinkles) that place them at greater risk for dermatological problems.

  • What are the costs of purchasing or adopting a dog?

You are choosing a dog for life. Depending on where you acquire a new pet—whether from a breeder or a shelter—there is likely to be a one-time purchase or adoption fee. There are also long-term costs. Create a budget for your new dog and include nutritious food, appropriate shelter and bedding, training, toys to provide mental stimulation, and regular veterinary care. Additional costs may include professional grooming and boarding or pet sitting.

Regular visits to your veterinarian can help control some of the costs of pet ownership by providing you with preventive care that helps avoid and/or catch potential health problems early.

  • Where should you adopt the dog?

Talk with local veterinarians, friends, neighbors and colleagues. Shelters in your community may have a great selection of dogs, including some purebreds, available for adoption. Other resources include purebred rescue groups and reputable breeders.

  • How can you be sure a dog is healthy before you adopt it?

A healthy dog has eyes that are clear and bright, a clean coat, isn’t overweight or underweight, and doesn’t show obvious signs of illness, like a runny nose or diarrhea. The best way to know for sure if a dog is healthy is to take them to a veterinarian for a checkup.

To view an AVMA brochure on how to select a dog, please visit: For more information about the AVMA, please visit

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About Paris Permenter & John Bigley

Paris Permenter and John Bigley are the award-winning authors of over 30 pet and travel books as well as the founders and publishers of CatTipper and DogTipper.