As you know if you’ve ever had a pet, caring for this little addition to your family is a hefty responsibility. Before you take the plunge, there are several question you may wish to ask yourself that will help you make an informed decision—and one that you won’t end up regretting.

Cat with Neck Collar 389x367 Seven Questions You Must Ask Yourself Before You Get a Pet

1.   Do you have enough space to accommodate the pet you are considering?
A goldfish bowl takes up virtually no space, but get a guinea pig and you’re talking about dedicating a larger area for a cage. If you get a cat you will need dedicated space for a litter box and with a dog, depending on size, it may be important to have a yard in which to run around.

2.   Can you afford to adequately care for the pet’s needs?
Pets can get expensive. While you probably have considered the cost of pet food, have you considered the additional expenses? Your pet will need regular vet care to stay healthy and, of course, should it get sick you will have to pay for veterinarian care and medicine. There are additional expenses depending on the kind of pet you choose, like preventative flea and tick treatments and grooming costs.

3.   Does your family have the time to devote to a pet?
It wouldn’t be fair to welcome a pet into your home and then never be there to spend time with it. It will add a significant burden to your daily responsibility chart to provide for your pet’s basic needs, but depending on the pet you choose, it very likely wants something more from you—your time and attention. While some pets are more self-sufficient (a cat uses a litter box, for example), and some pets are caged, pets like a dog will require you to come home and let it outside on a regular basis.

4.   Who will be the pet’s primary caregiver?
It is a common issue when families bring a pet home. The kids are typically very excited and eager to take on the added responsibilities at first, but as the excitement wanes and those tasks become ‘chores,’ all of a sudden they may become reluctant. Are you ready to deal with that if it happens? Will you be able to either enforce your rules or take over the responsibilities yourself? Keep in mind the pet will need care regardless of who performs it.

5.   Do any of your family members have allergies?
This is an important consideration. If you or a family member is allergy prone or has ever experienced a problem around someone else’s pet, make sure you check with a doctor before your pet search.

6.   Does the pet you are considering fit your lifestyle?
It’s important to have the space for a pet, but there are other lifestyle considerations as well. If you travel quite a bit, will you have someone who can care for your pet, or better yet, can it go along with you? Can you accommodate the exercise needs of a large pet like long walks for a large dog, for example?

7.   Can you pet-proof your home?
You have to pet-proof your home much like you would baby-proof it when bringing home an infant. Pet’s can become quite ill if they ingest certain foods, plants, garbage or medication, so you will need to rethink where you keep certain items. And, you need to be vigilant about keeping things safe, so those holiday decorations and other expensive décor may need moved to avoid being broken. Pets are messy too, so expect there will be some accidents along the way. But, most pet owners will agree, the love they share is so worth it.

Trevor Lawrence is a huge fan and lover of animals and a pre-veterinary student at Texas A&M. He uses a grammar checker before turning in any schoolwork to ensure the work is both grammatically correct and clear. He is currently working on a To Kill a Mockingbird project for his English class.