Adopting a pet is an important decision in a family’s life, as you’re making the choice to bring more love into your home in a life-enhancing way. However, you’re also making the choice to bring an animal into the home. This change involves responsibility, a mouth to feed, messes to clean up, and caretaking while you’re away. As you embark on this incredible journey of pet ownership, ask yourself the following questions.

What Pet Should You Adopt?

There are people who have known from the start that they want a dog or cat, perhaps because they grew up with one or because they’ve always been drawn to those animals. Others are undecided about what type of pet is suitable for them; all they know is that they’re ready for one. Much of this decision depends on your living space and lifestyle. A fish or turtle could be ideal for an owner with allergies to pet dander. A cat is a good fit for apartment living. A small dog can get by in a small home, while a large dog should have more space to roam. An owner who’s away for most of the day may want to consider a cat that, as a dog needs to get out and play.

Is Your Home Ready?

Before you adopt a pet, see if your home can accommodate another living creature. Every pet needs her own space; even though they have free reign of the house, dogs need a bed and feeding station. Cats need an area for a litter box, scratching post, and food, while low-maintenance animals still need space for their cages or aquariums. Get your future pet’s space set up before she comes home, and ensure the other animals and people in the house are ready for a new housemate. Dogs and cats can be wary of each other when they first meet, but they could eventually become best friends.

Also, be prepared for a new way of living. Your schedule will be different than before and might include frequent walks, litter box changing, tank and cage cleaning, constant feedings, and messes galore. Chances are, however, that you will occasionally need to spend some time away from your pet. To make sure your best friend has the proper care they need, look into pet-sitting services in your area.

Furry animals can shed quite a bit. If you adopt a furry friend, you might find pet hair on your furniture and floors. Invest in a good vacuum cleaner to handle this newfound mess, and put some time into researching a vacuum cleaner model that’s made specifically for picking up pet hair. It’s also smart to change your air filter on a regular basis to reduce the pollutants and allergens inside your home; it’s recommended that you change it every 60 days if you own a pet.

How Can You Help Your Pet Acclimate?

Rescuing a pet is ultimately the best thing, but the transition might not seem that way. It can be scary for a vulnerable creature to enter a new environment with strangers. Help your pet acclimate by letting him get used to the new environment and not rushing the process. It’s normal for a rescue animal to be nervous and anxious initially, and it could take time for your pet to adjust. Let him sniff, explore, learn the lay of the land, and come to you when he’s ready. Be patient, loving, and open.

If your pet is already up in your face like you’re his favorite person, then you can go straight into bonding. Bonding with your pet means lots of playtime, cuddling, and adventure. When you reach this level of comfort with your pet, you’ll both benefit greatly from this symbiotic relationship.

How Will You Care for Your Pet?

Pets require love, time, attention, and money. In addition to putting in quality time to care for your pet, you’ll also need to cover the cost of food, housing, grooming, toys, and medical care. You’ll have a new feeding and bathroom schedule to embrace (especially if you have a puppy that needs to be housetrained), as well as walking and boarding them when you’re away. Have a plan in place for all of these scenarios, because your pet deserves the best you can give.

Now that you’ve considered everything, are you ready for the commitment? Giving a pet a loving home will be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made. Once you have an animal to love, you won’t be able to imagine life without one.

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