Before Adopting a Pet

General Questions to Ask Yourself

Wake County Animal Center

Choosing the Right Pet

There are many great reasons to adopt a pet. Research on the human animal bond has revealed numerous health benefits to pet ownership such as an increase in exercise, enhanced community connection, decrease in depression and an increase in positive bonding hormones when petting your animal. It is important to take some time and reflect on what is the right pet for you. Evaluate your lifestyle, how much time you have to spend with a new pet? Are you a hiker looking for a hiking buddy? Do you travel often and would be better with a goldfish?  

For more information on choosing a pet for your family, please see the American Veterinary Medical Association's page "Selecting A Pet for your Family".

Check with your landlord or apartment complex

Some landlords choose to put restrictions on what types of animals are accepted in a rental home. You should check if there is a limit to the number of pets per unit or tenant. Are there weight or breed restrictions? There may be additional deposits or contracts with your landlord. We recommend checking with your landlord prior to adoption.

Do you already have a pet?

We recommended before bringing a second pet into your home, you assess whether or not this will enrich your current pet's life. Will your current pet accept an older animal, be tolerant of a younger animal's high activity level or tolerate a pet of a different species? 

Are your financially prepared for a pet?

There are expenses associated with pet ownership. Are you prepared for the daily costs of feeding? Cat will need kitty litter and dogs may need regular grooming. Will you be able to afford routine veterinary care? You will also need a plan for emergencies, long term medical issues and medications. 

What does your new pet need?

Prepare the things your pet will need before you bring them home. We recommend the following items.


  • Leash and collar
  • Food and water bowls
  • Age-appropriate food (you will receive a sample bag of Hill's Science Diet food. This is the food we feed in the shelter and the sample bag will help you transition your pet to the diet of your choice.)
  • Yummy treats for training
  • A bed or place for the dog to sleep
  • A kennel or appropriately sized crate for training
  • Don't forget to order an ID tag!!! 


  • Litter box, litter and scoop
  • Food and water bowls
  • Age-appropriate food (you will receive a sample bag of Hill's Science Diet food. This is the food we feed in the shelter and the sample bag will help you transition your pet to the diet of your choice.)
  • Carrier for transport 
  • Cat bed and toys

Veterinary Care

We recommend you determine which veterinary clinic you will be using for healthcare prior to adopting your pet.  Ask friends and neighbors for a reference if you are unsure about which veterinarian to use. 

Your new pet will need an exam with your veterinarian within three weeks of adoption. Please remember to take the medical records you received at the time of adoption; this will show what veterinary care has already been provided to your new pet. At the time of the veterinary visit, your veterinarian can speak with you about your new pet's health plan. Your veterinarian is the best person to help you with overall pet health maintenance.


Adult Dog vs. Puppy - which is the best for you?

Black dog laying in field

Adult Dog vs. Puppy 

If you adopt a puppy, you will need to put the time and effort into raising and training. Any new dog will need training, regardless of age, but a younger dog is more malleable than an older dog. You can build a solid foundation regarding setting expectations and socialization. A puppy may not be the best choice for anyone who is a little unsteady on their feet or isn't able to chase or otherwise keep up with an active ball of energy! 

Adopting an adult dog offers you the chance to provide a home to a dog that might be in the shelter longer or be harder to placed compared to a puppy. This also allows you to skip the "puppy phase" and the work that housetraining a puppy requires.

Dogs of any age can still give you and your family unconditional love. Adopting an adult dog doesn't have quite the same cute factor that a puppy has, but some folks find an adult dog easier to manage.

Pros to Adopting an Adult Dog

Adults are more likely to be trained in the basics - although this is not a guarantee and we recommend you take the time to work with and train your new dog.

The same goes for housetraining or potty training, although, unlike a puppy, an adult dog is likely to have developed much more reliable bladder control.

In adult dogs, their personality is already evident so you can get a better idea of how they will fit with your family.

Size is already defined in an adult dog.

Adult dogs are likely to have lower energy levels compared to puppies. That's not the same as saying they how low energy levels, just that the hyperactive energy of a puppy may have subsided - although this can be breed dependent.

Challenges of Adopting an Adult Dog

If the adult dog has bad habits, these can be ingrained and difficult to break.

If they have not been housetrained, it can be difficult to do at an older age. 

It can be tricky to introduce new things they aren't used to such as children, cats or even the vacuum cleaner. 

Sometimes, advanced age can be accompanied by health problems.

Adult dogs can be harder to introduce to existing dogs in your home.

Pros to Choosing a Puppy

The best time to start training is when your dog is young; getting a puppy means you can take full responsibility for teaching and training them.

Training a puppy can be a big part of the bonding process.

The probability is that you will have many happy years with your dog. 

Challenges of Choosing a Puppy

Puppies are adorable, but they're also destructive and exhausting. Do not underestimate the time and commitment a puppy needs and the amount of work for training. If you put in the hard work at the beginning it will make for a happier and easier dog in the long term.

Young puppies learn from every experience, which can be good, but it also means you need to pay constant attention. If you work full time or are likely to leave your puppy at home alone for long periods, it might not be the best decision for you.

Puppies can be great with children, but they also need consistency. It's important that children understand the puppy is not a toy and to treat the puppy with respect. 

With a puppy you may need more frequent vaccinations and visits to your veterinarian. 


Adult Cat vs. Kitten - which is best for you?

Wake County Animal Center

Adult Cat vs. Kitten

A kitten may be a poor choice for families with very young children or for someone who has disabling conditions by advanced age or illness.

For all their spunk, kittens are fragile and may accidentally be hurt by young children who don't understand the concept of "gentle."

Similarly, a kitten isn't the best choice for anyone who's a little unsteady on their feet or isn't able to chase or otherwise keep up with a tiny ball of energy. 

Pros to Adopting an Adult Cat

Giving a home to an adult cat is a responsible choice and can be very rewarding.

You will be able to choose from a wide variety of cats from every different appearance, age and temperament.

Adult cats have been trained to use a litter box.

Fully grown cats may be quieter than kittens.

Challenges with Adopting an Adult Cat

Some rescue cats have an uncertain medical or behavioral history, and some may require a little extra care to settle into their new home.

An adult cat's key socialization period will have taken place as kitten, however, there is still room for some behavioral adaptation. 

Pros to Adopting a Kitten

  • Kittens are very playful and lively, making them entertaining additions to the home
  • Cuteness factor
  • Many years ahead to spend with your feline friend 

Challenges to Adopting a Kitten

Kittens will initially be more dependent and require more care than an adult cat.

Kittens will be very active until they mature.

With a kitten, you may need more frequent vaccinations and visits to your veterinarian.