What Do You Do If You Realize Your New Pet Is Too Much Work?

January 21, 2022


January 21, 2022

“Welcome to your new home, Fido! We’re so excited you’re part of our family now.”

Pet ownership typically begins this way, but may take a negative turn, especially if a pet is adopted at puppy- or kittenhood. As their dog or cat grows, people begin to realize exactly how much time, energy, attention, and financial resources they require. Unfortunately, they may realize they cannot take on and sustain so much. 

Common Reasons Pets Are Rehomed

Some of the most common reasons pets are rehomed to a new family include:

  • The pet has too much energy — Many people underestimate a puppy or kitten’s energy, until the pet has been introduced to their household. Then, as a pet grows up, an adult pet can require a great deal of exercise each day to stay physically and mentally healthy. Some dogs may need an hour or two of strenuous activity per day to remain in top health. This is too much of a commitment for many people. 
  • The family is gone too much — Pets cannot be left home alone for long periods of time without suffering mentally and physically. If you work 10-hour days with an hour commute, a dog or cat may not be a good pet. Evaluate your lifestyle before deciding to adopt a pet whose happiness depends on plenty of human interaction. 
  • The pet has behavioral issues — Behavioral issues are one of the main reasons people rehome their pet. Cats with inappropriate elimination issues are most commonly rehomed. Dogs who have separation anxiety, fear-based aggression, reactivity, or problems interacting with children or other pets are often surrendered. 
  • The family does not agree about a pet — Occasionally, a family member will bring home a stray pet or one they couldn’t resist, only to be told no additional household pets are allowed. 
  • Someone has pet allergies — Sometimes, pet allergies do not appear until after someone has been living full-time with a pet. A new cat or dog may trigger unknown allergies in a person, and the pet needs to be rehomed.
  • The family is moving — If the family’s living situation changes, such as moving from their home to an apartment, they may not be able to take their pet. 
  • Pet care costs more than expected — Pets require more than simply bowls of food and water each day, and their expenses can add up. Routine veterinary costs can also add up, but if you’ve adopted a puppy with a penchant for eating socks, their veterinary bills can quickly become too much of a burden on your budget.

How to help your pet be rehomed

Prepare your pet to give them the best chance at being rehomed into their forever family. If you have paperwork from your pet’s purchase or adoption, put that with their vaccination and medical history records. 

Next, write a list of positive qualities about your pet, to highlight their strong points for potential adopters. Also, be honest about negative qualities. For example, if your pet has bitten someone, or is not good with other pets, make note of that. Sharing these qualities will help you find the best match for your pet, and prevent them from being bounced from home to home. 

Rehoming options for pets

So, what do you do if you get a pet, and realize that caring for them is too much work? Here are five possible ways to rehome your four-legged companion.

#1: Ask family or friends to take your pet

The best and simplest way to rehome your pet is with friends or family. They know your pet best, and will know if your four-legged companion is a good match for their lifestyle. 

If your close friends and family are unable to take your pet, widen your reach to include social media friends and acquaintances. Someone may know someone who is a good fit for your pet, or who is looking for a furry friend to add to their family. Post high quality photos and a detailed description that portrays your pet’s unique quirks, to help your post get shared. Who knows? Your pet may find their new home in a different city, or across the country. 

#2: Look for a breed-specific rescue

Breed-specific rescues are a great resource to help your pet find a new home. While animal shelters routinely have purebred pets, certain breeds can be difficult to find, which is where breed rescues come in. If your pet is a specific breed—cats have breed-specific rescues, too—try contacting a breed rescue to help your pet be rehomed.   

Breed rescues often pull their breed from shelters, so going straight to the rescue cuts out the middleman, and gives your pet a better chance of finding a home faster. A breed rescue may also share great tips on managing your pet, since they know the ins and outs of that particular breed and their best care.

Check out the American Kennel Club’s (AKC) rescue network list for the largest group of dog breed rescues in the country. You can also search for breed-specific rescues in your state or neighboring states. Occasionally, transport can be arranged between rescue groups.

#3: Contact your local animal shelter

Surrendering your pet to an animal shelter can be tricky, as many stipulations are often attached to pet relinquishment. For example, you may have to live in a certain county or inside city limits to surrender your pet. Also, shelters typically charge a surrender fee for your relinquished pet. 

Your local animal shelter may also provide resources to help keep your pet in your home. They may offer training classes, provide low-cost veterinary care, or have a spot to help advertise pets looking for a new home. Animal shelters generally have a wide network of people looking for pets, and they may be able to match your pet directly with a new family. This can eliminate the need for a shelter stay. 

Each animal shelter operates in a different manner, so ensure you understand the ramifications of surrendering your pet to one. A no-kill facility sometimes is not truly no-kill. They may call themselves a no-kill shelter, because they do not euthanize for lack of space. However, they may euthanize pets for behavior or medical reasons.

#4: Search for animal sanctuaries in your area

Animal sanctuaries in your area may be difficult to find, but they can be excellent options for rehoming your pet. Some sanctuaries adopt out pets after they’ve undergone medical or behavioral treatment, or they are offered a place to stay to live out their life. They often do not push to find pets new homes, and instead give them plenty of time and the best of care to become happy, healthy family companions, before putting them up for adoption. However, animal sanctuaries are typically a haven for pets with medical and behavioral issues who would otherwise be unadoptable, and usually live out their lives at the sanctuary.

#5: Contact your local animal control agency

Municipal animal control facilities are run by the local government, and most will accept any pet. However, they may euthanize unadopted pets because of lack of space, so make an animal control facility your last resort when trying to rehome your pet.

What you should not do when rehoming your pet

When rehoming your pet, avoid the following, to ensure your four-legged companion ends up in a good home. 

  • No dumping allowed — First, avoid dumping your pet on the street. Although you may think someone will take pity on your pet and pick them up, a fatal accident is more likely. People may also think your pet is on their way home, and won’t stop to interfere with their travels, leaving your pet alone and unprotected.
  • No pet should be free — Second, do not list your pet as “free to a good home.” Online and print ads often list pets available for sale or rehoming, and people desperate to rehome their pet may list them for free. However, some people scroll pet ads to find free pets to use as bait animals in dog-fighting rings, or for other nefarious purposes. Instead of listing your pet for free, ask for a small rehoming fee. A family who is a good fit for your pet typically won’t mind paying the fee. 

Turning the situation around

In some cases, you may be able to turn the situation around, and keep your pet. For example, you can hire a dog walker, or send your pup to a doggy daycare to burn off that excess energy each day. Or, the kid next door may be looking to make some extra cash, and be willing to help care for your furry pal. Whether you choose to try to keep your pet, or rehome them, your veterinarian can help with additional resources.


https://www.moneyunder30.com/the-true-cost-of-pet-ownership. Money Under 30. 2021. 

https://www.akc.org/akc-rescue-network/. American Kennel Club. 2021.

https://www.petful.com/animal-welfare/dont-want-your-dog-anymore/. Petful. 2019.

https://www.paws.org/adopt/cant-keep-your-pet/re-homing-your-pet/. PAWS. 2021.

https://www.k9ofmine.com/where-to-surrender-dog-for-free/. K9 of Mine. 2019.

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Disclaimer: Our content is for informational purposes only — it’s not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.