Everything you need at home for fostering a dog or cat
Get your home ready for its (temporary) new member
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Fostering a dog or cat who’s waiting to be adopted is a rewarding way to help out local animal shelters and rescues. When you foster a pet, you’re helping them to adjust to life in a home—not just a kennel—and preparing them for adoption.
Interest in fostering has spiked in the past few months, as many people are home more due to the coronavirus, and if you’re thinking about bringing a foster pet into your life, you may be wondering what kind of supplies you’ll need. In general, shelters will give you all the food and necessities needed to take care of a foster animal, but you may want to invest in the following supplies if you plan to make fostering a regular occurrence.
1. Appropriately-sized food and water bowls
No matter whether you’re fostering a dog or cat, you’re going to need bowls for their food and water. In general, metal or ceramic dishes work best, and you’ll want to make sure they’re an appropriate size for the pet—for instance, a cat doesn’t need a 10-inch bowl. These stoneware pet dishes are a great option, as they can be cleaned in the dishwasher and are available in four sizes to suit any animal’s needs.
2. Plenty of poop bags
As a dog owner, I can confidently say that you can never have too many poop bags. If you’re fostering a dog or puppy, you’ll go through them faster than you think, which is why it’s good to have a few spare rolls laying around. Personally, I like these Earth Rated Poop Bags, which are big and made out of recyclable materials.
3. Alternatively, a litter box for your new feline
For those who are bringing a cat into their homes, a litter box is a must-have. This particular hooded litter box is budget-friendly, yet it still comes with a cover that will prevent litter from getting kicked all over the floor. It even features a replaceable charcoal filter to help eliminate odors, and its unique design is made to be tucked into a discrete corner.
4. Don’t forget the scoop!
No litter box setup is complete without a litter scoop. Speaking from personal experience, it’s better to opt for a metal scoop like this one, as they’re significantly more durable and will last for years. The DuraScoop Original has a soft ergonomic grip that’s comfortable to use, and its metal design won’t bend, break, or rust.
5. A durable crate for when your pooch is alone
If you talk to a professional dog trainer, they’ll more than likely recommend crate training your dog, and this is a good habit to develop with a foster pup. Not only does a crate serve as a safe space where dogs can relax and sleep, but it will also help to ensure they don’t have accidents or chew up your belongings when you’re away from the house. This collapsible dog crate is great for frequent foster homes, as it comes in a variety of sizes and folds up compactly when not in use.
6. A pet gate to block off-limit areas
Chances are there will be a few rooms where you don’t want your foster pet to go, which is why you may want to invest in a pet gate. The MidWest Steel Pet Gate is a top-rated option that comes in two sizes to fit different doorway widths, and it’s easy to open with one hand, automatically latching closed behind you. Plus, it’s chew-proof and non-toxic, just in case your foster decides to chow down on the bars.
7. A cozy bed for snoozing
This pet bed is ideal for dogs and cats of all ages. It comes in three sizes, and it’s made up of two pieces—a rectangular bed with bolster edges, as well as a removable inner cushion. The foam base provides orthopedic support for older animals, and the whole thing is machine-washable, making it easy to care for over time.
8. A pack of potty pads if you’re getting a puppy
If you’re fostering a young puppy—or even just a dog who isn’t potty trained yet—you’re going to want to have some potty pads handy. These unscented pads have a built-in attractant that encourages dogs to do their business on the absorbant surface, and they have a leak-proof lining that will protect your floors from moisture. Plus, you can’t beat the low price for a pack of 150 pads.
9. A Kong toy to keep dogs occupied
If I had to put together a basket of essential supplies for new dog owners, you can bet a Kong would be in there. I relied heavily on these rubber toys when raising my own puppy. They’re extremely durable and provide hours of entertainment. Kongs come in a variety of sizes, and you can stuff their hollow interior with all sorts of treats that will keep your dog busy on those days you just need a moment for yourself.
10. A steady supply of treats for training
Chances are your foster dog will need help with training, so it’s a good idea to have some tasty treats lined up for them. Personally, one of my favorite varieties of training treats is the Blue Bits from Blue Buffalo. These soft treats are easy for dogs to chew, and you can even break them in half to make a bag go further. Plus, they have a smell that dogs love, helping you to keep their attention and reward good behavior.
11. A hardy scratching post
Protect your furniture and rugs from the claws of your new cat by giving them a scratching post. This affordable post is 21 inches tall and wrapped in sisal, providing the perfect surface for cats to sink their claws into. It even has a pom pom hanging off the top for them to bat around when they’re feeling playful.
12. A multi-use brush to minimize shedding
Not only are well-groomed dogs more appealing to potential adopters, but brushing your foster dog will help to minimize the amount of hair you have floating around your home. This particular multi-use brush from Kong is a favorite among pet parents, as it removes loose hair and stimulates natural oil production for a healthier coat. You can even use it in the bath with shampoo for the ultimate doggie spa experience.
13. A variety of toys to suit any cat’s tastes
Cats can be finicky when it comes to toys—for instance, my cat prefers twist ties to any store-bought toy. To increase the likelihood of finding a toy your foster cat will enjoy, get this variety pack, which includes feathers, crinkly textures, fuzzy catnip mice, rolling balls, and a wand. There’s bound to be a toy in there that your new charge will like—even if it’s just the box they come in.
14. A flirt pole for both dogs and cats
Flirt poles or flirt sticks are often thought of as cat toys, but they can be a great option for dogs, too. This particular teaser pole is equipped with a durable nylon cord, and its faux-fur tails squeak and rattle to capture your pet’s attention. The toy gets rave reviews from both dog and cat owners, who say it helps to tire out energetic animals quickly.
15. All-natural, long-lasting dog chews
If your foster dog proves to be a chewer, you’re going to need durable chew toys to keep them occupied. Personally, one of my favorite options for my own dog is these yak chews, which are made from 100% yak and cow milk and are extremely durable—they’ll last for hours, even for the most powerful chewers. Plus, when your dog gets down to the last piece, you can pop the chew in the microwave for a few seconds and it will puff up into an easy-to-eat ball.
16. A ball and launcher for intense games of fetch
You can take fetch to the next level with the help of a Chuckit! Launcher. These simple ball throwers allow you to send Chuckit! balls flying further—much to any dog’s delight. The lightweight launcher is easy to use and will save your arm from getting tired, extending playtime until you have a happy, worn out pup.
17. A cozy hiding spot for nervous kitties
Many cats—and some dogs—like to hide away in cave-like places to sleep, and if your foster pet can regularly be found hiding under furniture, you might want to consider getting them this cave-shaped bed. It has a small opening where pets can crawl in, and the interior is padded with thick cushions for added comfort. Plus, the bed is machine-washable for easy care.
18. A handy pouch to hold your supplies on walks
There are several things you need to bring when walking your foster dog—your keys and phone, poop bags, and treats, just to name a few. Instead of trying to cram all these supplies into your pockets, invest in this treat and training pouch, which attaches to your leash and has ample room for all your supplies. You can also use the inner compartment to carry “used” waste bags, if you want.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.