Ever get the feeling that the only thing your apartment is missing is a cute little companion to come home to? Adopting a pet may seem like a great idea, but you also need to make sure you're prepared before you commit to anything. Make sure you check off this pre-pet checklist before you pay a visit to your local shelter:
Figure out your budget
Pets can be expensive, so make sure you know your budget realistically before you decide to take in an animal. Make sure you factor in more than just the adoption fee, food, and regular vet visits—the little things you may not be thinking about add up. Here's a breakdown of the costs associated with different pets.
Get real about your schedule
You may really, really want a dog, but if you live alone and work long hours, a dog may not be the best fit for you, unless you already know you can afford a dog walker (or, your office happens to be cool with dogs). Make sure you know how much time you can actually commit to your new pet so you can decide whether or not you should adopt one, and what pets are right for you.
Research animals and breeds
Already know you want a chinchilla? Great—move to the next step. But if you know you want a pet but don't know which one will best fit your lifestyle (or you know you want a dog but aren't sure what breed is the best fit) then it's time to do some research. Read up on the animals and breeds you're interested in and think realistically about how they will fit into your daily routine before you make a decision.
Look up nearby vets
Before you bring a new furry friend home, you should make sure you know a little bit about your local vets—read reviews and figure out which one you plan to use so that you don't have to worry about it after the fact. Also, look up where the nearest animal hospital is, in case of emergencies.
Check out local resources
Along with the vet's office and animal hospital, you should look up and make note of nearby pet stores where you can get food, toys and other supplies. If you're getting a dog, look for nearby training schools, dog parks, and doggy daycares to make sure there are resources around and available to you.
Ask your landlord
If you're renting, you need to ask your landlord or management company before you adopt a new pet. Be sure to ask all about their pet policy, including breed and size limits and whether or not there's an additional fee attached to your rent for having a pet on the premises. And if you own your home, you might still not be off the hook—some homeowners associations have policies in place about pets.
Stock up on supplies
Done all of the above and ready to make the adoption final? Before you actually bring your new four-legged friend home, stock up on some necessary supplies so you don't have to worry about it the day you pick up your pet. Depending on the pet you choose, the supplies you need will vary, but think about the basics like food, a bed and clean-up necessities.