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“Are We Ready to Get a Pet?” Questions to Consider Before Getting a Pet with your Partner

Updated: Jan 23

Pet ownership initiates a life-changing commitment that requires responsible planning. Couples should discuss the following questions before getting a pet: 

Defining Ownership: “Will the pet be yours, mine, or ours?”

Will you and your partner own the pet equally, or will one of you be the pet’s sole owner? Couples should have a clear, thoroughly discussed, and mutually agreed upon understanding of who the pet owner will be. 

Time Commitment

How long are you and your partner willing and able to be pet owners? Plan ahead and make an informed decision by researching the projected lifespan of the animal you are interested in adopting.

Financial Commitment 

How will you pay for the goods and services involved with pet care? Will these costs be divided between you and your partner? 

Pet ownership costs can include:

  • Adoption costs

  • Pet license 

  • Pet insurance

  • Food and treats

  • Veterinary bills (check-ups, medications/treatments, neutering and spaying, emergency medical care)

  • Collar, identification tag, and leash 

  • ‘Bathroom’ supplies (e.g. poop bags, a litter box, litter box liners, fresh litter) 

  • Bathing and hygiene supplies

  • Grooming services

  • Household supplies (e.g. a crate/cage, pet bed and blankets, and supplies for cleaning up after the pet)

  • Toys and recreational equipment 

  • Training services (e.g. obedience classes)

Who will pay for replacements when pet supplies break, run out, or are grown out of? How will unexpected costs be handled? 

Couples should research the specific costs associated with the animal they want to adopt. The Ontario Veterinary Medical Association provides itemized estimations of the annual costs of owning a puppy/dog and kitten/cat

Home and Environment

Research the environmental needs of the pet and pet breed you are interested in adopting (e.g. climate, space to run, outdoor access). Does your home suit the pet’s needs? 

Are your living circumstances likely to change during the pet’s lifetime? If you move, will you have difficulty finding a new home that suits the pet’s needs?

Will the pet have one primary home, or will the pet travel between two homes, such as yours and your partner’s? It is essential to make sure that all homes housing the pet will suit its needs. 

Division of Responsibilities

Couples should plan how they will allocate the responsibilities of pet ownership, including: 

  • Cleaning up after the pet

  • Walking and ‘bathroom’ needs (ensuring the pet has pooped and peed)

  • Play and recreational activities 

  • Pet grooming and hygiene

  • Travel to veterinary appointments

  • Pet supervision

Decision Making

Who will be responsible for making decisions involving the pet? If you and your partner share decision-making responsibility, what will happen if you or your partner disagree on a decision?

Decisions involving the pet can include:

  • Medical decisions (e.g. consent for medical procedures)

  • Breeding the pet

  • Travelling with the pet

  • Having the pet stay with a third-party

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