(NAPSA)—The holiday season can seem very overwhelming when deciding what to get for that special  someone, but for many an adopted shelter dog is the perfect gift. One clear benefit is the gratifying experience associated with saving a dog’s life. As reported by the Humane Society, 3-4 million cats and dogs are adopted each year from shelters across the country.

Veterinarian Dr. Ernie Ward, Founder and President of The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention offers several tips for finding and taking good care of any adopted canine.

Choose Wisely

Visit a few local shelters to find one (or several) that keep their animals for adoption in good condition. Many shelters, like the Villalobos Rescue Center in Santa Clarita, CA provide a safe haven for hundreds of dogs that were victims of abuse. The facility earns stellar reviews and has been touted by dog food brands, like Rachael Ray Nutrish, that are known for helping abandoned and mistreated animals. A portion of the proceeds from every bag of Rachael Ray Nutrish is donated to pet charities and other organizations that help animals in need.

Quick Tips for Adopting A Shelter Dog
  • Consider adopting from shelters or rescue groups that have earned stellar reviews.  PetFinder.com is a good resource for finding a shelter near you.
  • Visit a shelter on two different occasions, at different times to monitor your potential dog adoptee's temperament.
  • Stock up on a super premium dog food brand, like Rachael Ray Nutrish, a portion of the proceeds from every bag is donated to pet charities and other organizations that help animals in need.
  • Create a schedule for walks and feeding, it can foster relationships between your family and the dog and ensures that your pet's needs are met.

The 2 Visit Rule

Once you think you’ve found the right pet for your family, visit the shelter once more at a different time to monitor the dog’s temperament. Many families will take a dog home after the first visit without keeping in mind that dogs can act differently throughout the day. The two visit rule also helps families become accustomed to their  potential dog adoptee, making the transition from the shelter to a new home easier on both parties.

Choose the Right Pooch for You

New pooches need lots of love and attention; they also come along with a new batch of dogrelated household chores. Look for a dog that fits your lifestyle and gets along with and is best suited for your family. If children live in your home, make sure your new dog is kid-friendly. Also, be sure to consider the amount and type of space you have at home prior to adopting a new dog. A large, active dog kept in a small apartment without space to run and play isn’t fair for the dog and can negatively affect their health. This also pertains to smaller dogs such as Jack Russell Terriers that are very active and require a lot of exercise.

 Stock Up On Supplies

When stocking up for your pooch make sure super premium dog food is on top of the list. A brand like Rachael Ray Nutrish includes high-quality meat as its main ingredient and is great for almost any dog’s diet. It is  available in chicken & veggies and beef & brown rice varieties and offers no by-products, artificial flavors or preservatives. Prior to the homecoming, families should stock up on other necessities including leashes, collars, ID tags and crates as well as a few safe and fun dog toys to make the new member of your family feel more comfortable in their new surroundings.

Create a Schedule

Families should share the responsibility of caring for a new dog. Creating a schedule is a great way to get the entire family involved in your pet’s care. Families should take turns performing certain duties to ensure and help foster new relationships and strong bonds between the family and the new pet.

Health and Other Benefits for You and Your Dog

There are many health benefits for anyone who adopts or cares for a dog. Older children can enjoy a sense of companionship with the dog, while younger children can learn how to become a responsible pet owner. Whatever the weather, dogs need to be walked and allowed to run around, giving owners that extra motivation to exercise each day. Dogs are proven to lower their owners’ blood pressure and stress levels. Plus, dogs show their owners unconditional love, which can be therapeutic for any new pet parent.

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