October is Adopt-A-Pet Month! Support Future Paw-rents with these resources.

COVID-19 has inspired dramatic fluctuations in pet shelters. In spite of the increase in demand, there are still plenty of animals who need homes. And as economic woes persist, there is reason to worry that a new wave of animals who need to be rehomed will arrive at your local shelter.

The sad fact is that there are still millions of friendly, perfectly well-adjusted dogs and cats euthanized every year.

As vets, we can steer clients toward adoption. When clients first start looking for a new pet, we can address any concerns a client might have about adoption. There are a lot of misconceptions about the health of animals from shelters versus breeders, and we can make sure clients have all the information they need to make a humane decision.

Common Health Issues Among Shelter Animals

Even while advocating for shelter adoption, it's important to make sure that prospective pet owners are prepared common, yet easily managed issues among pets rescues. One study showed that around half of the animals in their shelter pet sample had a health issue, but most of those were resolved within 12 months.

Reputable shelters take plenty of precautions with their animals, but there are a couple of illnesses that are more prevalent among shelter animals.

  • Shelter cats are especially prone to upper respiratory infections. Symptoms may present as ulcers in the mouth, as well as a reluctance to eat and extreme lethargy.

  • Rescue dogs can also have respiratory issues, and are also prone to gastrointestinal parasites.

Rescue pets will get a full assessment of their health, as well as temperament. During intake, dogs get an assessment called SAFER — Safety Assessment for Evaluating Rehoming. This is a scientifically backed assessment that allows shelters to identify the animals best suited for adoption. You can also rely on shelters to give you an honest assessment of a cat’s temperament — after all, the last thing they want is for an animal to be returned.

Common Health Issues Among Pets from Breeders

Some people hear the word “mutt” and assume they must have less favorable attributes than purebred dogs. This couldn’t be further from the truth — as you’re probably well aware, “Purebred” doesn’t actually mean healthy. In fact, after years of inbreeding, many purebred dogs are prone to genetic problems. come from bad breeders are prone to debilitating hereditary illnesses, which in some cases can even cut the pet’s life short.

The inhumane practices of some breeders who keep animals in filthy, cramped conditions in order to maximize their profits don’t just affect their animals’ physical health. Animals can develop terrible behavioral and social problems at mills and pet stores, partly because of the dirty surroundings, and also because of the developmental difficulties that come from being separated early from a parent.

Purebred Problems

Our love of certain breeds has led to the perpetuation of a host of hereditary problems. Unfortunately, the top dog breeds (as of 201