Adopting a pet offers warm, fuzzy feelings and loving companionship, and health benefits along with it. But, before bringing a new pet home, doing some research and preparation can go a long way.

While adopting a pet may seem like a fairly easy process, it’s important to ask yourself a few questions before bringing home your new pal.

Adoption Options

For some people, the sky’s the limit! They can adopt whichever pet they want to suit their flexible lifestyle. For others, though, it’s important to consider adopting a pet that fits into a few criteria.

Which pet makes sense for your budget?

While adopting a dog may seem like the right investment, the ongoing costs are worth considering, especially if you plan to adopt a puppy. Between spaying/neutering, shots, finding the right food, training, treats, and the equipment that comes with caring for a dog, the money adds up. For someone who’s looking for all the snuggle without the cost, a slightly lower maintenance furry friend like a cat may be the better choice.

Consider how much you can spend on the upkeep of a pet, as this will determine which pet makes sense for you.

How much activity can you offer a pet?

It makes sense that adopting a horse would require a ton of exercise (and space!), but even a hamster needs to get out and stretch its legs every once in a while! Investing time into making sure your new pet is getting the activity and stimulation it needs is part of any pet parent’s life. If your life is increasingly sedentary or you’re losing your mobility, find a more stationary pet to care for.

Thinking of adopting a dog? Be prepared to get out and exercise with it.

How much maintenance does your new pet require?

It could be something as simple as a long-hair versus short-hair situation, but the time it takes to keep your buddy happy and healthy should be high on your list of considerations. For instance, the wrinkly and cuddly Shar Pei may seem like a fun and low-maintenance dog adoption, but did you know that their wrinkles can often get irritated, and require daily checks and possible medication? Be sure to look up the proper care and health risks of the animal you’d like to adopt.

No matter which animal you adopt, it’ll come with its own required upkeep.

How to Adopt

There may be a plethora of shelters and adoption centers near you, but each has different availability, costs, and requirements for adopting a pet.

How much does it cost to spay/neuter a pet?

On average, spaying or neutering a pet can cost anywhere from $45 to $175. Many shelters will include spaying or neutering in their adoption fee, but others may not. Those costs are considerable on their own, and that’s not considering the initial shots required upon adoption. If you’re adopting a young animal, they may need their starter shots for heart disease, ticks, and other risks.

The cost to spay or neuter your pet can vary based on shelter, age, weight, and other factors.

What are the requirements to adopt?

Depending on where you find your new friend, you could run the gambit of having to do an at-home visit, an all-day test run, an interview, or simply filling out a form. It truly is different everywhere, and it’s best to come prepared to present yourself as a responsible and eager potential pet owner. The more you consider your adoption options, the better fit you’ll be for the animal you choose.

Look into the specific requirements of the shelter you’re considering before moving forward with the adoption process so you’re prepared.

What is the adoption fee?

Make sure you know ahead of time! Many places will adjust the pricing based on an animal’s age. A puppy will usually cost more than a senior dog. But that price may also include shots and other added care, which can be especially helpful when adopting a younger pet.

Adoption fees will typically depend on the animal, age, and shots included.

Preparing Your Home

Are you bringing home a young or not-yet-trained friend? Or will your new pet require its own little world to live in? Remember, it’s your new companion’s home now, too. Prep your living space for an additional roommate before bringing them home!

What food does your new pet eat?

Rabbit food or cat food may seem easy enough, but often there’s a variety of foods for each animal with specific benefits. Your adopted pal may also have their own tastes or allergies! It might be wise to buy a couple different flavors of the food they need to see which they like best. Whichever they don’t like can easily be donated to a nearby veterinary hospital or shelter.

Help your new pal find a food they like and that’s good for them by investing in a variety for them to try.

Where will they sleep or spend their downtime?

An animal’s living space can be especially important to them, taking the place of a den. This could determine which animal you adopt. A cat or dog may need a kennel at first, but could really sleep anywhere. Other animals — like a reptile, amphibian, fish, or gerbil — may require an enclosure, which means you may need to assess if you have space in your home for such a pet.

Fish and lizards (or fire-bellied toads), for example, need their own aquariums and terrariums respectively, and finding the right one for each size can provide its own challenges. Take some time to find an enclosure where they’ll be comfortable and happy.

Creating a space in your home that’s specifically for your pet will help them adapt and feel safer.

Don’t forget the bathroom!

All pets make waste. What are you going to do with it? It may seem like a silly question, but keeping a healthy pet means cleaning up after them properly. Stock up on cat litter or dog bags ahead of time so your pet’s first outing isn’t to the store for carpet cleaner.

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Adopting a pet is hard work, but fun and rewarding experience overall. Just make sure you’ve taken to the proper steps to insure a healthy and happy life together. Good luck finding your new best friend!