Puppies and kittens are wonderful additions to the family, but pet owners who find out their animal is expecting a litter may go into panic mode without a plan. Barb Peterson of Duluth, Minn., breeder of soft-coated wheaten terriers and cardigan welsh corgis, offers these tips for when you find out you’ll soon have grandpuppies or grandkitties.

Puppies and kittens are wonderful additions to the family, but pet owners who find out their animal is expecting a litter may go into panic mode without a plan.


Barb Peterson of Duluth, Minn., breeder of soft-coated wheaten terriers and cardigan welsh corgis, offers these tips for when you find out you’ll soon have grandpuppies or grandkitties.


1. Go to the vet. When you find your dog or cat is pregnant, the best first step is to make sure she’s healthy. Check with the vet on how to best handle the pregnancy; the birth will generally take care of itself.


Once the puppies or kittens are born, take proper care of them until they can be placed in good homes. The mother will care for them for a period of time, but they will need shots, and human contact will help them as they make the transition into permanent homes. Check with your vet to find out how long you should keep the babies before placing them.


2. Talk to friends and family members. Placing an ad in the newspaper or on a community bulletin board will reach more people, but Peterson recommends using that method with caution. Shelters, rescue groups and breeders routinely ask questions about a potential owner’s family and home to ensure they’re placing an animal in good hands. Contact your local animal shelter if you need help coming up with the right questions.


Charging a fee may help weed out bad owners, Peterson said. It will help offset your costs and show that the person taking the animal home is willing and able to raise it.


3. Find a rescue group in your area. Rescue groups use foster families, so the puppies or kittens will live in a home environment rather than a cage, helping them become accustomed to people and other animals and thus giving them a better chance at becoming a good family pet in the future.


Some shelters use foster families as well and may even have families waiting to adopt a pet like the ones you’ll soon have.


“If you have beagle-like puppies, someone wanting a beagle-like dog just might be waiting on the shelter’s list,” Peterson said.


4. Spay or neuter your pet to avoid a repeat incident. There are very few good reasons not to have your animal spayed or neutered, Peterson said. And if you’ve had one “oops” incident, you may have another. As soon as your pet is old enough and healthy enough for the surgery, have it done.


If you don’t think you can afford it, do a little research to find discount programs. Many states have spay and neuter clinics that will do the surgery for a nominal fee, and some animal shelters have partnerships with local veterinarians that give pet owners discounts on services.