Going to the breeders or shelter to select a new friend is a very exciting process, as well as an overwhelming one. How do you know which one will make a good companion for yourself and your family for the next decade (or longer!)? For this blog I am going to speak about the two most common questions I get from to-be pet owners about kittens and puppies; How to tell if he/she is healthy, and how to know what the personality is.
Health: This is at the top of the list for me as a veterinary technician. You will want to look for a pet that could be described as glossy. Eyes are bright and shiny, but no discharge or weeping. The coat should be fairly smooth and shiny, depending on the breed. Movement should appear easy (although it may not be very well coordinated yet ;)). The appetite should be consistently good and bathroom habits regular. If one or both parents are on site, how do they look? Coat quality on females who have recently delivered young can be difficult to evaluate as they will often shed the majority of their coats shortly after delivery.
You will also want to get all the vet history for the baby. Has he or she seen a vet? Been dewormed, and if yes, when and what with? Any vaccines given? All of this history will help you spot any warning signs of illness.
Personality: Every breed will have their general personality types, but there will always be a variance between individual animals. Knowing your own personality type will make it easier to know which type of personality will work best in your particular situation. Generally most families will do best with an animal that is confident, happy to please and willing to go with the flow. This baby will be the one who is playing well with others; will startle at a loud noise (like dropping car keys) but then come to investigate; and when rolled upside down will struggle a little but then relax in your arms. These are all good signs that the baby has some self-confidence, but is also happy to have human interaction.
Going in with questions to ask and tests to run will help you focus in on selecting the best new friend for your situation. However, as most pet owners will tell you, no matter all the testing and questions you ask, it often feels like your pet chose you, not the other way around 🙂
By: Melissa, RVT