Maybe you’re one of the 4.2 million people following social media star Hayes Grier on Vine, or perhaps you’ve caught him on DigiTour or Dancing With the Stars. In his latest project, Hayes and his new bestie, Zan, are spreading the word about the importance of always adopting animals from shelters and NEVER buying them from pet stores or breeders. 

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Before you think about adopting a dog (or cat), make sure you’re ready to be in it for the long haul. Adopting a companion animal can be super exciting, but it also comes with a LOT of responsibility and requires a lifetime commitment from you.

If you have a rescued pup in your home or are considering adopting one, here is some friendly advice on giving our four-legged friends the happy, healthy life they deserve:

1. ALWAYS spay or neuter. Animal shelters are overflowing with dogs (as well as cats and other animals) waiting for a good home, and unfortunately, many of them will be euthanized because there aren’t enough homes for them all. The only way to end the animal homelessness crisis is to spay and neuter to prevent new litters from being born.

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2. Hook your furry companion up with a proper ID. You never know if or when your pal might get lost or even run away. Investing in a nice collar with ID tags, including your dog’s name and at least two ways to contact you, is a must, as is getting your dog microchipped. Keeping the tags and microchip information updated is also super-important. 

3. Be sure to set $ aside. Regular and emergency vet visits (you never know when they’re going to be necessary—trust us), grooming, bedding, a collar, a leash, high-quality food, toys, and monthly flea, tick, and heartworm meds can be more expensive than you might think.

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4. Be mindful of your dog’s diet. For one thing, some foods are dangerous for dogs, including many holiday foods like chocolate and macadamia nuts. Also, be sure to hook your pal up with high-quality food—this isn’t a good place to skimp. And resist the temptation to overfeed—obesity can lead to serious health problems in dogs and make them chronically uncomfortable. Opt for several smaller meals throughout the day (just like you eat)—that’s much healthier than leaving food out all day long.

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5. Take lots of walks. Get into good habits early, like giving your dog lots of exercise by going for at least one long walk on the daily. And remember: It’s your dog’s walk, so allow plenty of time for stopping and sniffing.

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6. Be sure to clean up after your canine friend on the reg. Understandably, poop patrol may not be your favorite activity, but it is definitely a necessity—bacteria from dog poop can pollute local waterways. Plus, you don’t want your dog (or anyone else) to step in it and track it inside!

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7. Make some time for fun and games. Games like “hide and seek” and fetch are another great way to give your pal some love. Fresh air, exercise, and attention equal a happy and well-behaved dog.

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8. Don’t forget to groom. Dogs need regular brushing and nail-trimming and even need to have their teeth brushed at least a few times per week. If their fur gets dirty, they could use a bath, too (with special dog shampoo), but don’t overdo it, since their skin can dry out from too many baths.

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9. Be your dog’s protector. Never leave your dog unattended outside or in a hot car. Making this mistake can have terrible consequences.

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10. Hang out with your new pal as much as possible. And dole out lots of love and attention. Your pup may even want to chill with you inside your sweater (at least that’s what Zan likes to do with Hayes!).

Pledge to End Animal Homelessness!

Fill out the form below and pledge to adopt (not buy) your animal companions and have them spayed and neutered. Together, we can help end animal homelessness!

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