Adopting a new pet is a major decision, especially if it’s your first pet. While adding a new furry friend to your family is exciting and fulfilling, it’s also a long-term commitment. If you’re considering adopting a new pet and aren’t sure if it’s the right decision for you, here are some things to think about:

First, any pet owner knows that being responsible for a pet is a major time commitment. Cats are slightly lower maintenance than dogs, but whichever pet you choose, be prepared to spend a lot of time getting your pet accustomed to you, your home, and any other pets or family members in the house. If you are considering adopting a dog, make sure you have time in your schedule for daily walks and playtime.

It’s also important to be mindful of the health care your pet will require. This includes taking your pet to an animal medical center for annual checkups and other routine veterinary services. During your annual checkups, a veterinarian can discuss all aspects of your pet’s health and any veterinary surgical procedures that may need to be performed. This is important to know because many pets are prone to developing certain illnesses or diseases.

In fact, it’s estimated that 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of dental disease by age three, leading to abscesses, loose teeth, and chronic pain. Doctors can also inform you about signs of a pet emergency, so you’ll be able to know when something may be wrong with your pet. Before you adopt a new pet, take the time to understand that particular species or breed’s health needs. Your pet will depend on you for their well-being, and it’s important to be informed from the very beginning.

Finally, if you’re considering adopting a pet, know that you are committing to caring for that animal for the rest of its life. So if you’re thinking about moving in the future, make sure you’re prepared to bring your pet with you. Unfortunately, some irresponsible people have adopted pets just to find that they weren’t really prepared. They end up bringing them back to the shelter and giving them up for adoption again, often traumatizing the animal in the process. If you have any doubts at all about your ability to care for a pet for the rest of its life, then adopting a pet probably isn’t right for you.