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Family Addition: Adopting Pets as a Couple

You’ve finally found the love of your life, have begun cohabitating and couldn’t be happier. Yet amidst the romantic bliss, something seems amiss. A pet! You desperately want a precious little fur baby to call your own and share your home with. Maybe you have a child or children together already, or maybe it’s just the two of you. Either way, there are several things to consider before you introduce a furry friend into the mix.


Adopting a pet is a great way to combat the high number of pets in shelters, but don’t jump into the commitment unless you are both ready for the added work and responsibility. By talking it out the decision to adopt ahead of time, you’ll greatly reduce the risk of ever having to return your pet to a shelter.


These seven questions should help you determine if you are ready to adopt as a couple:

1. Do you both want to adopt a pet?

In some cases, one partner can be much more gung-ho about wanting to adopt a pet than the other. If this is the case in your relationship, it’s important to discuss. Will you be the one able to take the animal out and feed it most often? Will a pet prevent your partner from doing certain things he or she wants to experience as a couple – such as spontaneous trips where having a pet would be a hindrance? Would either of you prefer purchasing from a breeder rather than adopting?


2. Do you both want to adopt the same kind of pet?

Are you a dog person but your partner loves cats? If one of you will be compromising, you should determine just how big of a deal this will become. Will your partner resent you, or vice versa? Can your cat-loving pet co-parent ever love a canine?


3. Do you have the time needed to care for your new pet?

Many couples work long hours, often on different schedules. A pet requires consistency, especially during training. If you’re barely home, or just want to sleep whenever you can, a pet probably isn’t a good idea at this time. Pets are like children and require a lot of attention.


4. Can you afford it?

Adopting a pet comes with the upfront cost of the adoption fee, but it doesn’t end there. Even after you go crazy at Petco buying coordinating bowls, a luxurious bed and every toy imaginable, there’s still the monthly expense of feeding your new friend. Plus, health issues can arise at any time, especially as your pet ages. You should be financially stable enough to prepare for these situations. You’ll also need to bring your pet to a veterinarian at least once a year to ensure they remain in tip-top health.


5. Will your long-term living situation accommodate a pet?

If you live in a pet-friendly apartment, what happens when your lease is up or your landlord sells the property? How difficult will it be to find a place you can afford that also allows the pet you are considering adopting? Many pet-friendly apartments only allow small dogs or cats and prohibit certain “aggressive breeds” due to insurance costs or personal preferences. Many pets in shelters are there because of living arrangements that could no longer accommodate them.


6. Is your relationship stable enough?

If you’re breaking up every other week, that’s going to create a lot of chaos for an adopted pet who would benefit from a stable environment. Arguing or dividing the pet between two residences when this happens will cause unneeded stress on the animal. Also, if your relationship is suffering and you think a pet can help make it better – think again.


7. Are either of you only compensating for wanting to have a child?

Caring for a pet requires teamwork, sharing responsibilities and compassion. The same is true for a child, but that’s where the similarities end. A pet matures much faster than an infant, so basing your readiness for human parenthood on your pet-parenting skills isn’t the best gauge. If you’re getting a pet because your partner doesn’t want a child but you do, you’re not going to feel completely fulfilled. Even worse, couples who get pets as substitutes for children are more apt to tire of caring for a baby and a pet when that time comes. Don’t adopt if you can’t promise to love your pet unconditionally – even if you have a baby in the future. Your pet is your fur child- forever!