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By Nan Talleno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – If you’re thinking about adopting a dog, puppy, cat or kitten in the near future, know that it not only brings about a lifetime of love and joy, but it also brings a variety of healthful benefits such as boosting your immune system, lowering your blood pressure, and reducing significant levels of anxiety and depression.

Although ALL dogs and cats need homes, look to shelters and rescues first. These animals need a second chance and at the same time, you’ll know that you’re also saving another life – as it opens the way for the facility to make room to take in one more.

Make sure that you’ve taken care of all the necessities to have on hand first, such as food bowls, a healthy balanced diet, (remember puppies and kittens need an especially enriching diet specifically for them), safe chew toys, your vet’s number, ID tags and a comfortable bed.

Remove breakable and small items around your house. Check each room. Keep plants, electrical cords and wires, curtain cords, candles, cleaning supplies, ash trays and prescription drugs completely out of reach. Secure trash and garbage in containers with lids.

When you get your new dog or puppy home, make sure to provide a healthy walk first even before stepping inside to get everything started off in a healthy and relaxed way. Introduce him/her to your home after the walk in small increments. Running around the home, no matter the age, is too overwhelming for a dog in a new environment.

Introduce slowly and with gentle direction and guidance.

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