Getting a pet is a major step for any couple. Some couples adopt a pet to bring them closer together, while others joke that it’s practice for parenting children somewhere down the line. However, adopting a pet with another person doesn’t always work out the way people think it will. A pet won’t fix any existing issues in a relationship. The reality is, pets can amplify disagreements and flaws in a relationship.
That said, pets can also be an amazing addition to your growing family. They can help you and your partner bond while bringing lots of laughter and love into your home. To enjoy this aspect of having a pet, you must first ensure that it’s a responsible and healthy choice for you, your partner, and the pet. Here are some things you must consider before getting a pet with your partner.
Can you afford a pet?
Many couples run into trouble after buying a pet because they underestimate the costs that come with them. First, there’s the initial cost of getting the pet, which includes food, toys, vaccinations, a leash, a bed, and a crate, depending on the animal. You may also be faced with costly vet bills if you decide to have your pet neutered or if they ever get sick or injured. For this reason, looking into pet insurance before adopting is a must.
Still, both the recurring and emergency costs of owning a pet should be taken into consideration. If you’re both struggling financially, a pet will only make things worse and could potentially destabilise your relationship. It may be wise to do some research first about the average costs of owning a pet and then checking if that could fit into your budget.
Are you both enthusiastic about it?
If one person is way more enthusiastic than the other about getting a pet, that could lead to problems down the road. The more invested partner may end up taking on the majority of the responsibilities of owning a pet, such as walking, feeding, play, and training. This in itself isn’t terrible, as these responsibilities don’t need to be split 50/50. However, one person taking on too much of the work could spark arguments or resentment.
This is why it’s essential to plan ahead about who will be doing what to take care of the pet. You can discuss who will walk the pet on what days, who will feed them, and so on. No matter your arrangement, you should ensure that both of you are eager about adopting a pet and are prepared to contribute.
Do you communicate well?
Healthy communication is important for any couple. Without it, a relationship is almost certainly doomed to fail. This is especially true when you bring an animal into the picture. Taking on the responsibility of owning a cat or dog can lead to challenges that you’ll need to navigate together. If you’re unable to communicate frequently and effectively, underlying tension may be brought to the surface.
If you think the stress that comes with a pet could be too much, you may want to work on making your relationship stronger first. Once you’re able to communicate with each other properly, your relationship will be healthier, and you’ll be a step closer to being ready for a pet.
Is this the right animal for you?
According to the PDSA’s Paw Report, 26% of UK adults own a dog and 24% own a cat. Therefore we can assume that most couples looking for a pet are going to consider a cat or dog; would either fit with your lifestyle?
Dogs, for example, need a lot of attention and exercise, depending on the breed. This can make them ill-suited to couples who aren’t particularly active, live in a more cramped space, or work long hours. For these couples, a tank full of beautiful fish may be a more realistic alternative. Cats are also a great choice for couples who prefer to spend time indoors and may not have a lot of space.
Does a cat or dog suit your lifestyle?
As stated above, certain animals are more suited to certain lifestyles. However, some lifestyles are incompatible with having pets in general, regardless of their species or breed. Some couples, for example, like to travel and be out of the house a lot. Others may be averse to a more structured lifestyle in general.
If this sounds like you and your partner, a cat or dog may not be the right choice for you right now. Even animals that seem very low-commitment, like fish, need to be fed and their tanks cleaned regularly. There’s nothing wrong with waiting until you’re a bit more settled down to bring a pet into your life.
Can you handle a long-term commitment?
Pets are not a one or two-year commitment — they’re for life. They’re not an accessory, a prop, or something to use to try and fix a broken relationship. They’re a living, breathing animal that deserves love and respect. Unfortunately, many people underestimate this commitment and end up giving their pet away not long after adopting or buying them. This outcome is heartbreaking for everyone involved, including the pet.
Though they vary by breed, the average lifespan of dogs and cats are around 7-16 years and sometimes longer. If you’re not confident that you and your partner will remain together in the long term, getting a pet could lead to a lot of pain later on if you split up. This is why getting a pet is a lifelong commitment. They may not live as long as humans, but having them and the choices you make as a result will affect the trajectory of your life. It’s not a choice to be made quickly.
These considerations can seem intimidating at first. However, you’ll feel much more confident and secure in adopting an animal once you’ve discussed these topics with your partner. Being prepared for a pet will help you fully appreciate and enjoy the time you’ll get to spend with them in the future!