Bringing a pet into the mix is a big step for most couples. It’s the first time many couples are fully responsible for another living thing that’s not just that orchid your mom bought you that you haven’t watered since last year.

Many couples like to use pets as a trial run for kids. They think, “If we can keep Fido alive and happy, we’ll be one step closer to being ready for kids.” And while that might be true, pets should still be brought into your home with lots of care and consideration.

A pet will change your life. Are you ready for a pet?

YES – You both want a pet

The most basic sign that you’re ready for a pet is that both you and your partner 100% want a pet in your lives. It can’t be one person dragging the other into it. You should both be excited. And you should both be prepared. You need to understand the responsibility and commitment involved in owning a pet. Depending on the type of pet, you could be pet parents for up to 20 years!

Photo by Emily Nicole Photos

NO – You have no pet experience

If you have absolutely no pet experience, getting a pet together might not be the best idea. If you didn’t have pets growing up, you’ve never pet sit and you don’t spend time with your friends’ pets, you might not be ready for a pet of your own. Take some time to up your pet experience first. Volunteer at your local animal shelter or call up your cousin with the Great Dane and see if you can come by for a visit.

YES – You can afford it

Pets can be expensive. There are the basics like food, treats and supplies. But then there’s all the extra stuff like clothing, crates, carriers and toys. There are vet visits, grooming, vaccines and nail cutting. Depending on your schedule you may also have to pay for a dog walker or pet sitter when you go away. And then there are the emergency costs you can’t account for if your pet runs into some medical issues. Plus, if you have your heart set on an expensive pet, like a purebred French Bulldog, you’re going to be paying a lot up front to buy him or her. Can you afford it? You don’t want to be that person who has to return their dog to the shelter because you didn’t budget correctly.

Photo by Emily Nicole Photos

NO – You’re way too busy

Before you get a pet, you need to understand how much of your time your pet needs. If you and your partner both work overtime and you’re rarely home, you probably don’t want to get a Mastiff puppy who will need to be potty trained and has lots of energy. Think about your current schedule before you get a pet. Think about your social life. Will going out for drinks after work have to stop because you’ll need to rush home to walk a dog? Think about your future. Are you planning a year-long trip around the world? Do you have to travel a lot for work? Are you planning to relocate? How will a pet fit into your busy life?

YES – You have the space

Depending on the type of pet you’re wanting to get, you need to have the right amount of space. Do you have room for a cage or a crate? What about a good spot for the litter box? Where will the bed and food bowl go? Do you need to put up a scratching post or a huge aquarium? And if you’re wanting a dog or an outdoor cat, do you have access to outdoor space? Is there a park nearby? It’s important to make sure your home is pet-ready too.

Photo by Erica Miller Photography

NO – You only want a pet for the Instagram photos

We can all admit that animals on the internet are the best. Who hasn’t stopped to laugh at a cat meme? Who doesn’t follow an adorable pug on Instagram? There’s nothing wrong with trying to get your pet Insta-famous if you’re into that. Just don’t buy a pet for the sole reason of getting more followers on social media. Pets are not toys. They’re living and breathing creatures. And they’ll still be your responsibility for the other 23 hours and 58 minutes of the day when you’re not snapping their photo for Instagram.

Are you and your partner ready for a pet?
What kind of fur baby (or fin baby, or scale baby) do you have your eyes on?

written by Riana Ang-Canning
feature image by Emily Nicole Photos