Deciding to adopt a furry friend is not a decision to make lightly. Especially as a college student. Between the stress of work, school and your irresponsible friends, it’s important to carefully consider the pros and cons of owning an animal.

If you’re confident it’s the right time to buy a new pet, be sure to prepare sufficiently before bringing the little guy home. Use this guide for help picking and planning for your future as a pet owner.

1. Research different breeds.

Start with a little self-research. Are you ready to own a pet? Consider your daily lifestyle: how long will your pet be home alone? How often can you/will you want to play with it? And what is your living situation? How much money can you spend? The answers to these questions can help you determine what kind of animal is right for your lifestyle.

Once you know what kind of animal you’re interested in, research different breeds. Some will be more energetic than others, which you can use to your advantage depending on if you live in an apartment or a house with a yard.

2. Shop till you drop.

Consider what you already have. Any old stuffed animals you can use for toys? Obviously, your list will vary depending on which pet you pick. Shampoo and conditioner are a must for hairy pets, so is flea protection. You’ll need to buy a sleeping arrangement, treats and food, possibly a collar and tags, and a transportation plan for the ride home. Buying a gate to separate the front seat from the trunk space may not be a bad idea if you choose a high-energy dog.

3. Pet-proof your place.

As a good general rule: if your pet might be tempted to eat it, put it out of reach. Puppy owners will also need to keep chewable stuff up high. Think about the people you live with too. I can guarantee your roommate won’t be blaming your new puppy for whatever it chews. You’ll be to blame, and your wallet will be responsible.

4. Plan for the worst.

Most people wonder, why do I need pet insurance? The quick answer is, to save a lot of money in the later years of your pet’s life. Nearly 50 percent of all dogs will get cancer, and every hour roughly 1.8 million dollars are spent on vet care. These numbers are staggering and should be warning enough to invest in an insurance plan. You will want to compare plans to find the right coverage for a reasonable cost. Next, you need to find a vet. Sometimes it takes a few tries to find one you really like (and trust). Keep the company’s contact info somewhere accessible, just in case you need to grab it quickly in an emergency.

5. Schedule playtime.

At first, scheduling play time won’t be necessary. With all the excitement, you’ll probably have to remind yourself to let the little guy breathe. After a while, life will start to get busy, leaving less time for you and your new friend to play. Depending on pet type, you should establish a schedule for care and play. That way your new friend won’t be getting less attention as he or she gets older.

Although it is important to take pet preparation seriously, it should be fun too. Get ready to meet your new best friend, and remember to be patient during the adjustment process — change is never easy, even for pets.