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What you need to know before buying or adopting a pet


The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an increase in pet ownership across the country. When buying or adopting a pet, the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) is reminding prospective pet owners that it’s important to make sure the pet is healthy and free from potentially life-threatening illnesses, and to acquire pets from a reputable breeder, rescue or shelter organization.

When you choose a pet, you’re accepting responsibility for its health and welfare, and committing to care for your pet for the course of its life. With this in mind, here’s what you need to know before purchasing a pet:

  • The pet’s vaccination records and other veterinary medical history.
  • If adopting from a rescue or shelter organization, where it acquired the pet. Animals imported from other countries may have been exposed to diseases or parasites not known in Canada that could cause health risks to local animals and humans. There could also be animal welfare issues related to responsible sourcing, safe transport, and other appropriate health checks and screening.
  • If purchasing from a breeder, ask if the breeder is registered with the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC). The CKC Code of Practice insists that members breed dogs that are healthy and sound in both mind and body. You should also ask to meet the puppy’s mother, to ensure the puppy is being raised in an appropriate environment.
  • Information about policies on returns or assistance with medical bills if health issues are found after buying or adopting.

“If you’re considering adding a pet to the family, it’s important to do your homework before making a commitment, which includes learning as much as you can about the pet’s history and health,” says Dr. Albert Wimmers, president of the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association. “Use your head as well as your heart—look for any red flags and make sure all of your questions are answered. If you’re unsure what to look for, speak to your veterinarian.”

It can sometimes be difficult to know if you're buying an imported pet or a pet from a large volume commercial breeder (i.e. puppy mill). OVMA has developed resources for prospective pet owners to help guide their decision-making process, including an infographic outlining red flags to be aware of when purchasing a pet and a buying a pet checklist.

For more information about choosing a pet, speak to your veterinarian or visit

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