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What You Need to Know Before Adopting a Pet

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Pets can be such a special part of a family. When I was a child, we adopted anything from poodles to betta fish, dwarf hamsters, rabbits, and even raccoons. Our house had its share of noise and stains, but with that came a wealth of fun memories. 

As an adult, I know adopting a pet involves much more than skipping home with a new collar and leash. That’s why we’re going to spend two minutes looking through a checklist of need-to-know aspects of pet adoption. Sure, each animal and each family is different, but using these guidelines can help you get the best start with your new pet.

Got any tips you would add? We’d love to hear them in the comments below!

1. How much time will I need to invest?

Most people think about what type of daily time commitment a new pet will take, like feeding, exercising, or cleaning up after little messes. Let’s also consider the lifespan of your future pet. For example, it’s a good idea to ask yourself if you’re ready for a 10-to-15 year commitment with a dog. Perhaps your children are the ones begging for that new puppy for Christmas and this would be a good topic for discussion with them. 

Interested in a pet other than a dog? created this life expectancy chart for a variety of pets. For example, did you know large parrots can live for over 50 to 65 years? According to the chart, the oldest captive goldfish lived to be 43!

2. Is my house ready?

As you think through this decision, consider the impact this new animal may have on your living space. For example, do your floors scratch easily? Can a few floor runners or an area rug do the trick if you think it will be a problem? Do you have the type of outdoor space where your animal could exercise or go to the bathroom regularly? Is your furniture pet-friendly?*

If you said no to that last question, be sure to check out Home Reserve’s extensive line of pet-care fabrics. This video shows exactly how the stain resistant fabric withstands juice spills or dirty paw prints:

3. What will this new pet cost?

Predicting your pet’s expenses isn’t an exact science, but here are several items to consider adding to your monthly budget:

- Food

- Supplies

- Meds

- Clinic visits

- Dental care

- Dog walkers/dog sitters

- Boarding

- Unforeseen expenses and emergencies 

To give you a frame of reference, according to the ASPCA, a dog or cat may cost you more than $1,000 during the first year. That may or may not be your experience, but check out this pet budget worksheet from the ASPCA to plan ahead for your own upcoming pet care expenses.

4. Is my lifestyle conducive for a pet?

Planning to travel a bunch in the next few years? Have a baby? Work longer hours? Lifestyle changes like this will have a significant impact on your pet and should, therefore, go into consideration before adoption. Of course it’s not impossible to have a busy life and have a pet, but if, for example, you’re not planning to be home a great deal and can’t take your pet on the road with you, that’s a pretty expensive result. 

Also, does anyone in the family have allergies? The College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology says a hypoallergenic pet like a poodle, Portuguese water dog, or terrier can keep many of those symptoms at bay.

5. Where should I adopt my pet?

According to the Humane Society, millions of animals wind up in shelters each year, half of which likely won’t get adopted. Therefore, your local animal shelter is a great place to start looking for your dog or cat. Also, the cost is often less than buying from a private breeder or a pet store. 

Looking for a more unique pet not found in a traditional shelter? Check out or where a vast array of furry friends can be found in their listings. With Adopt-a-Pet, you can even receive alerts when animals in your list of criteria become available.

Pet adoption is such an exciting decision. Allow this checklist of questions to guide your steps and give you and your future pet the best foundation you can. 

Bonus Pet-Friendly Resources:


Do you have a pet adoption story you’d like to share? Tell us in the comments below!


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