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More than puppy love: Getting a pet with your significant other

What we'll cover

  • Getting a pet with your partner

  • The costs of a pet

  • Other pet ownership factors to consider 

Few things compare to cozying up on the couch with the love of your life — and a snuggly puppy or purring kitten — after a long day. But the cuddles and joy of a new pet can also come with some less-than-idyllic moments (a puddle on the carpet, a shredded sofa cushion). As a pet owner, these experiences are bound to happen, and are just a few of the many aspects you and your partner should consider before getting an animal together. 

From costs to clean up to time commitment, getting a pet with your significant other is a big step. Before you fill out any adoption papers, make sure you've given plenty of thought to not just your potential pet’s name, but the following factors, too.    

The cost of a pet

A pet is a priceless addition to a family, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily low-cost. While the cost of pet ownership can vary depending on the type, breed and size of your new friend, you should be prepared to spend at least $1,000 to $1,400 annually — and potentially double to triple that amount during the first year. From vet bills to food and toys, to grooming, insurance and more, it’s critical to plan for the one-time and recurring costs of keeping your pet happy and healthy. 

Plus, it’s a good idea to have adequate savings to cover any pet-related emergencies . Keeping a separate savings bucket for pet costs is a smart way to stay organized and on top of the funds you may need. 

You and your partner should discuss the financial side of pet ownership and how you plan to pay for the costs. Whether you split the costs 50-50 or use another method, you don’t want anyone to feel like they weren’t aware or prepared to take on the financial commitment. 

Before you and your partner decide to bring a furry, feathered or scaled friend into your lives, be sure you’ve planned for all the aspects of pet ownership (as best you can, that is).

Your living space

Whether you live in a one-bedroom apartment or a house with a backyard, you’ll want to make sure your home has appropriate space to accommodate you, your partner and an animal. Your living space can have a big impact on how comfortable both you and your animal are. Bringing an energetic or large pet into a small space could be overwhelming. Similarly, you might have to make adjustments or additions to your home to make it more for your pet for your pet

Communication and responsibilities  

Pets can be a lot of work, especially if they’re young. Feeding, walking, training, changing the litter box, booking vet or grooming appointments — the list of responsibilities goes on. If you and your partner are getting a pet together, communication is critical. 

You should feel comfortable sharing responsibilities and leaning on each other to create a happy life for your pet. If not, one person may end of doing the majority of the work, which could lead to resentment, or not giving your animal the attention it deserves. 


When you add a pet in the mix, jetting off out of town isn’t as simple as it used to be. 

Even if you don’t have a getaway booked now, give some thought to how you’ll handle traveling and pet care further down the road. Be sure to consider:

  • Where you travel

  • Transportation type

  • Average length of your trips

  • Types of trips you like to take together 

Discuss whether it will be possible to get away with your pet or if you’ll have to board your pet or ask friends or family to pet sit. 

Upcoming life events

Adding a pet to the mix in your relationship is a major life event and your day-to-day routine is undoubtedly going to change. 

But what comes next? Are you planning a wedding or a big move in the next few months or years? What about a baby or a career change? You and your partner should be aligned that a pet not only fits into your lives now, but also in the future. You may realize that it isn’t the right time to get a pet or that the transition to pet ownership will be smoother once you’ve accomplished a few other milestones first. 

Years-long commitment

Getting a pet should be a commitment for the animal’s life. Depending on what kind of animal you choose, that could be 10, 15, or even 20 years. While it’s impossible to know what your life will look like that many years from now, you should both be on board for the long-haul and not take this decision lightly. 

If you’re worried about the commitment, take some time until you both feel ready. In the meantime, consider fostering or babysitting others’ pets to practice integrating a new responsibility into your lives. 

Welcome to pet parenthood

Pets can be a rewarding addition to your relationship dynamic, but it’s not always going to be wagging tails and puppy kisses. Before you and your partner decide to bring a furry, feathered or scaled friend into your lives, be sure you’ve planned for all the aspects of pet ownership (as best you can, that is). That way, when you do take on the responsibility, you’ll know you’ve made a purr-fect decision. 

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