Are you considering adopting a pet? Adopting can be a very rewarding way to bring a new pet into your home. Your new pet will become a life long companion, best friend and playmate. Yet, adopting a pet needs to be done with careful research to ensure that you are ready for the commitment and the changes your new pet will bring to you. With a little bit of research and a lot of love, your pet can become a beloved member of the family, providing emotional and even physical benefits for you and your family members. Here are four key commitments to be ready for when you adopt a pet.

1. A Financial Commitment

While the emotional benefits of owning a pet outweigh any financial cost, there’s no denying that owning a pet costs money. Even if you already own a pet, bringing another one into your home will increase your costs for pet care. Here’s an estimate of what you will pay a year for your new friend.

  • Veterinary care and vaccinations: $480 for a cat, $720 for a dog
  • Food: $480 for a cat, $720 for a dog
  • Toys: $26 for a cat, $41 for a dog
  • License: $30 for a dog
  • Litter: $144 for a cat
  • Treats: $40 for a cat, $66 for a dog

Keep in mind that your pet’s breed can affect the total cost of ownership as well. A large dog, for example, will require more food than a toy breed, but many toy breeds require ongoing grooming to keep their coats soft and free of tangles. Talk to your vet or a pet rescue about the needs of the breed you are considering.

2. A Responsibility Commitment

Bringing home a pet is a new responsibility. You are committing to play with that pet, take care of its physical needs, ensure that it is loved and well fed. While most pet owners will agree that these responsibilities are enjoyable and the rewards they get from their pets far outweigh the work they have to put in, it’s important to research these responsibilities before you make the decision to adopt. Don’t worry, though. When you have that happy face waiting for you at the end of a long day at work, you will be more than happy to embrace that responsibility!

3. A Lifestyle Change Commitment

Sometimes your lifestyle will need to adjust to accommodate the new pet in your life. If you have never owned a pet before, be ready for a learning curve. It will take both you and the pet some time to figure out your routine. If you already own pets, adopting a new dog or cat will create an adjustment period for everyone.

To help you with this adjustment period and potential lifestyle change, talk to your veterinarian or a pet expert about the pet you are considering. Find out what its needs are, and take a look at your lifestyle. Can you accommodate the pet’s need for socialization, exercise and entertainment? Can you make a few adjustments to open your heart and home to this new family member? Going in with your eyes wide open will help you make the best choice, both for you and for your new pet.

4. A Commitment to Research

Finally, before deciding to adopt a pet, commit to doing your research! Find out all you can about the type of animal and the breed you are considering. You will be surprised at the differences between various breeds and pets available. With some time to research, you should be able to find a pet that will be a great fit for your family.

As you research, make sure you talk to the right people. Shelter staff and veterinarians are a good source of information, because these professionals are committed to making the right matches between pet and owner, not simply looking to sell a pet they no longer want.

When adopting, you will also want to talk to the shelter about the pet’s history. Some pets have unique needs, and you want to be certain you can embrace those needs. For instance, if you are considering adopting a pet that does not do well with other pets, and you already own pets, you may want to choose a different one. On the other hand, the shelter may tell you that the pet you are considering is great with kids, and you may have a house full of kids! This background information will give you peace of mind that the pet is the right choice for you.

Adopting a pet is an emotionally fulfilling journey for pet owners. You will be bringing your new best friend home, giving him a new lease on life! Just make sure you consider these four commitments, do your research and make an informed decision for the best possible journey for both of you!