Whether you’re into puppies, kittens, hamsters, snakes or pigs, getting a new pet for your household can be a very rewarding experience. Pets bring love, laughter and companionship into a home in a way that few other things can. However, before buying or rescuing a new animal, there are a few things to take care of first.

Prepare Animal Housing

Your new furry, scaly, or feathery friend has its own space and housing needs. Your job is to figure out if your house is set up to accommodate your new pet’s needs. For example, if you’re bringing a Saint Bernard puppy home, he’s going to get large. If you live in a small apartment with no backyard, that might not be the best pet choice for you.

Research the specifics of the new animal you’re getting to see how large it gets and figure out how much space you’ll need. If your new pet will be spending its life in a cage or aquarium, determine the optimal size for these habitats and measure the space where you plan to put them. If you’re not sure, it’s better to go larger than smaller, as animals need space to move around. This also applies to dog crates.

You’re also going to need get all the extra necessities needed to make your new pet feel at home—litter box, toys, bedding, food, etc. Note that exotic pets such as fish and reptiles have a very specific set of needs, and so need more accessories and equipment than other types of pets. Also beware of relying on the employees at the pet store for advice, as they’re generally not very knowledgeable about the animals they’re selling, and their recommendations may end up being a waste of money or even making your pet sick. It’s better to seek advice from experts.

Talk to Your Landlord

If you live in an apartment or are renting another type of property, you’ll need to talk to your landlord or the rental property manager before making any decisions regarding pets. Be advised that your landlord may restrict pet ownership. Some landlords prohibit all animals. Others allow small caged animals, but won’t allow animals that run freely outside a cage. Others may allow dogs of only a certain breed on their properties. For instance, some landlords won’t allow pit bulls, Rottweilers or other large or possibly aggressive dogs.

Find a Vet

Just like humans need to go to the doctor occasionally, your new pet will likely have to visit the vet at some point in its life. This is especially the case for dogs and cats, since they need regular shots, but annual general checkups are recommended for all types of pets. Finding the right vet beforehand and introducing your new pet to him early on will help build a strong, healthy relationship between them and won’t leave you frantically searching for someone in your area in case of an emergency. This is particularly important if your new animal is an exotic animal, as vets for these types of animals are relatively rare and often can’t be found anywhere near your home.

When preparing to buy a new pet, the most important thing is to do your research from the best sources and get their new home ready ahead of time. See what pets you’re allowed to have in your area, do some measurements to find out if your home will accommodate your chosen pet and locate a suitable vet in or near your area. Just as with most things in life, being knowledgeable and prepared will lead to a successful transition from the store, shelter, or breeder to your home.

If you need to go on vacation once you have your new pet, let us watch them for you!