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Health and behavior problems in dogs and cats one week and one month after adoption from animal shelters

Linda K. LordDepartment of Veterinary Preventive Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210.

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Linda ReiderAnimal Welfare Department, Michigan Humane Society, 30300 N Telegraph Rd, Ste 220, Bingham Farms, MI 48025.

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Meghan E. HerronDepartment of Clinical Studies, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

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Kristy GraszakAnimal Welfare Department, Michigan Humane Society, 30300 N Telegraph Rd, Ste 220, Bingham Farms, MI 48025.

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Abstract

Objective—To characterize health and behavior problems in dogs and cats 1 week and 1 month after adoption from animal shelters and identify factors associated with the likelihood that owners of adopted animals would visit a veterinarian.

Design—Cross-sectional study.

Sample Population—2,766 (1 week) and 2,545 (1 month) individuals who had adopted an animal from a shelter.

Procedures—Internet and telephone survey responses were collected 1 week and 1 month after animal adoption.

Results—Overall, 1,361 of 2,624 (51.9%) dogs and cats had health problems 1 week after adoption, and 239 of 2,312 (10.3%) had a health problem 1 month after adoption. The most common health problem for dogs and cats was respiratory tract disease. A total of 1,630 of 2,689 (60.6%) respondents had taken their animal to a veterinarian within the first week after adoption and 1,865 of 2,460 (75.8%) had within the first month after adoption. Respondents were more likely to have visited a veterinarian if they had adopted a dog versus a cat or if the animal was young (≤ 1 year old), had ≥ 1 health problem, or had adjusted moderately to extremely well to its new home within the first month after adoption. Cats had fewer behavior problems than dogs. One week after adoption, the most commonly reported behavior problem was house training for dogs and chewing, digging, or scratching at objects for cats.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that improvements can be made in the percentage of new owners who visit a veterinarian after adopting an animal from a shelter.

Abstract

Objective—To characterize health and behavior problems in dogs and cats 1 week and 1 month after adoption from animal shelters and identify factors associated with the likelihood that owners of adopted animals would visit a veterinarian.

Design—Cross-sectional study.

Sample Population—2,766 (1 week) and 2,545 (1 month) individuals who had adopted an animal from a shelter.

Procedures—Internet and telephone survey responses were collected 1 week and 1 month after animal adoption.

Results—Overall, 1,361 of 2,624 (51.9%) dogs and cats had health problems 1 week after adoption, and 239 of 2,312 (10.3%) had a health problem 1 month after adoption. The most common health problem for dogs and cats was respiratory tract disease. A total of 1,630 of 2,689 (60.6%) respondents had taken their animal to a veterinarian within the first week after adoption and 1,865 of 2,460 (75.8%) had within the first month after adoption. Respondents were more likely to have visited a veterinarian if they had adopted a dog versus a cat or if the animal was young (≤ 1 year old), had ≥ 1 health problem, or had adjusted moderately to extremely well to its new home within the first month after adoption. Cats had fewer behavior problems than dogs. One week after adoption, the most commonly reported behavior problem was house training for dogs and chewing, digging, or scratching at objects for cats.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that improvements can be made in the percentage of new owners who visit a veterinarian after adopting an animal from a shelter.

Contributor Notes

The authors thank Allison Lamb for technical assistance.

Address correspondence to Dr. Lord.