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How to Prepare Your Home for a Foster Pet

Preparing your pets

Congratulations on bringing home a foster pet! Fostering a homeless pet is both rewarding and important work. When bringing a foster pet into your home, there are a few things you’ll want to consider. If you have current pets at home, you’ll want to make sure that they’re prepared just like any other member of your family. While shelters and rescue groups are full of healthy, happy adoptable pets, keep in mind that some adoptable animals can end up in shelters and rescue groups with little available background information, or some may have health conditions which require a little extra love and care. In these cases, it is especially important that you protect your currently family pets throughout the foster process. If you choose to foster puppies or kittens, keep in mind that they often require some extra considerations, too. You’ll want to be sure to keep them separated from any current family pets to avoid potential exposure to common health issues like upper respiratory infections and worms or parasites.

How to Prepare Your Home for a Foster Pet


Before bringing home your first foster pet, make sure that any of your current pets are up to date with their vaccinations.  Talk to your veterinarian about fostering and follow their recommendations about any precautions you should take.  Your  veterinarian may suggest additional vaccinations/immunizations to help best protect your current family member.  As with any regular veterinary care, you will most likely be responsible for any treatments and costs related to your own pets.

Preparing your home

To protect a foster pet in a new environment (and to safeguard your belongings!) it is important to pet-proof your home. Doing so will help set you both up for foster success.

Once you have chosen an area where you will care for your foster guests, you should “pet-proof” the area.  Pay attention to any small or potentially harmful objects, such as pins, needles, paper clips, nails, staples, thread, string, rubber bands, caustic/toxic chemicals, moth balls, plants and any other items that are potentially dangerous.  Some animals may also be attracted to electrical cords.  These items should all be blocked so they can’t get at them.  Also, to ensure nothing is missed, get down at an animal’s eye-level.  Look closely for any small holes or dangerous items that may have been missed at your first pass of pet-proofing

Precautions to take by room: Kitchens/Bathrooms/Utility Rooms

  • Use childproof latches to keep little paws from prying open cabinets. Be sure to keep all cabinet doors closed.
  • Keep medications, cleaners, chemicals and laundry supplies on high shelves or in childproofed cabinets.
  • Keep trashcans covered or inside a latched cabinet.
  • Check for and block any small spaces, nooks or holes inside cabinetry, furniture, floors, appliances, etc. where your foster pets may hide.  Also make certain that spaces behind washer/dryer units are closed off so your foster animals can’t get in there either.
  • Always keep your dryer and washer units closed and check them before use.
  • Keep all foods out of reach and/or in cabinets.  Even if the food isn’t harmful to pets, the wrapper could be.
  • Keep toilet lids closed

Precautions to take by room: Living/Family Room

  • Place dangling wires from lamps,TVs, etc. out of reach.  You can place the cords through PVC pipes if you’re concerned a pet might try to chew them.
  • Keep children’s toys put away.
  • Put away knickknacks that are valuable to you or could easily be knocked over.  If it is important to you, don’t leave it out.
  • Pick up any items like strings, pins, yarn, etc.
  • Move houseplants — many of which can be poisonous — out of reach.  This includes hanging plants that can be jumped onto from other nearby surfaces.
  • Secure aquariums and cages that house small animals, such as hamsters or fish, to keep them safe from curious paws.

Precautions to take by room: Garage/Basement

  • Most garages contain too many dangerous chemicals and unsafe items to be an acceptable foster site.  Foster animals should never be housed in a garage.
  • Move all chemicals to high shelves or behind secure doors.
  • Clean up any and all antifreeze from the floor and driveway. Even a very small amount can be lethal to an animal.

Precautions to take by room: Bedrooms

  • Bedrooms may not ideal situations for some foster animals.  If scared of their new environment, some animals can hide under beds and may be hard to coax out.
  • Keep laundry and shoes behind closed doors
  • Keep any medications, lotions or cosmetics off accessible surfaces (like the bedside table.)
  • Move cords out of reach of chewing.

Whatever room you choose to make your foster pet’s new home, make sure that it is easily cleaned.  You should be able to disinfect it between foster pets.  Carpet and other soft surfaces can harbor disease hosts from pet to pet.  It is also difficult to clean up accidents on carpet, especially when they seep into the carpet pad.  Areas with tile, hardwood or other impermeable surfaces are ideal places to house your foster animals.

Preparing your yard

If you have a fenced in backyard, check that there aren’t holes in the fence or any other escape route.  Remember, never leave your foster dog in the backyard without your supervision.  Never leave a foster dog unattended or unwatched outside.  Always keep your foster dog on a leash when walking outside.

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