The decision to adopt a pet is a big one, and it’s not something that should be taken lightly. If you’re in a newer relationship and just moved in together, you might be getting that itch to play house and adopt an animal. But! There’s a lot to consider before you pick out a new fur baby for your family. From the initial and ongoing costs to the time commitment and lifestyle changes, it’s not definitely not something you want to rush into. On the fence about it? No problem, let’s go through some things to consider when thinking about adding a fluffy new member to your family!
Consider the Costs of Owning a Pet
First things first, think about how you might manage unexpected costs with your partner that my show up or differences in financial styles. As with any major purchase, the cost of a pet is one of the most important factors in deciding whether to adopt. These expenses can include:
The cost of the pet itself can range from $0 adoption days which are usually around major holidays where shelters see an influx of pets being surrendered all the way to $1k+ for purebreds from a breeder.
Going to take a look at your local shelter can also be a great date for you and your partner – being able to see your pets personality for the first time and knowing they are “the one” is a magical experience!
The cost of owning a pet isn’t a one-time payment. Over the course of your fur baby’s life, you’ll regularly need to make payments to support their health and well-being, just like a real baby!
Expect to budget for things like:
- Food and treats
- Supplies like litter, leashes, harnesses
- Veterinarian care
- Boarding fees if you travel frequently or daycare if you have to leave your pet alone while at work
- Training lessons for behavior issues like jumping up on furniture or biting too hard during playtime with other pets in your household
Again, the specific costs will depend largely on what type of pet you bring home. While cats are typically okay being left at home during a work day, someone would likely need to be home to let a dog out. Some dog breeds need to be groomed every few weeks, while others do just fine with the occasional bath at home.
These expenses can add up quickly over time, so do your research about what each animal you’re considering needs based off of your lifestyle.
What Kind of Pet is Best For Your Family?
The thought of playing with a fluffy puppy in your backyard might bring an instant smile to your face, but there’s a lot to think about when deciding what kind of pet to bring home. Each animal has its own distinct needs, and as an owner, you need to be prepared to meet those needs if you want your pet to live a happy, healthy life.
The Time Commitment
Pets can take up a lot of your time, especially if you’re bringing home a puppy who will require a lot of hands-on training and attention at the start. If you and your partner don’t have a lot of time to spare or aren’t prepared to make changes to your busy lifestyle, you might be better off choosing a low-maintenance pet.
How Much Energy Do You Have?
Let’s be honest, pets can be a lot of work. Do you finish up your shift and immediately want to crash on the couch? Dread the thought of getting up a little early to take your companion for a walk? Then you might not be ready to add a pet to your daily routine.
Remember, every kind of animal needs some enrichment and attention. While dogs might be known for being a little needier, even cats need playtime, too!
How Much Space Do You Have?
Do you have enough space for your new companion to be comfortable? While they don’t need their own bedroom, they do need enough space to relax and roam. And if you’re thinking about getting a pup, consider whether you have a yard or easy access to the outdoors for them to get out and play. This is especially important to keep in mind if you’re shopping for a new home (or apartment, condo, townhouse) together.
Who’s Responsible For the Pet?
Once you’ve decided to adopt a pet, it’s important to discuss the responsibilities of owning a pet with your partner so that you’re both on the same page. Some questions to consider before adoption include:
Who will take care of the pet? You might need to coordinate your schedules to make sure your new companion has everything they need. Consider consistent feeding times, letting a dog out, regular walks or playtime, trips to the vet and groomers, etc.
If you have a busy lifestyle, this can be a big change!
Who will be responsible for paying for food and vet bills? You’ll need to figure out how the expenses for your new pet will be divided. Will you split each cost evenly? Switch off from month to month? Or each handle specific costs?
Don’t forget to set aside some money for emergency expenses or monthly pet insurance, because pets love to jump and play around, sometimes to their own defeat.
Who will care for your pet when you’re away or busy? There’s going to come a time when neither of you will be able to get home for your pet. Who will step up to help you out when that time comes? This might be a trusted friend or family member, or it could mean spending some time researching boarding facilities and pet sitters in the area.
Could this Put a Strain on Your Relationship?
Having a big responsibility with your partner can definitely provide an opportunity for some bickering. “Who’s gonna pick up after Fido at the park or when are you gonna FINALLY empty out the litter box?!” might be some very real conversations that would happen if you let things simmer for too long (literally)! Communicating your needs and how you both can be the best pet parents will be crucial so no one gets the short end of the stick, after all this should be a good thing!
You’re also going to want to confront what might happen if you break up.
If You Get Married…
If you’re thinking about getting married or already engaged you might have already heard something about a prenup. What is a prenup you might as? Well, a prenup is a contract between you and your partner that is both a legal vow to what happens during marriage but also there in the event of a divorce. As well all know… divorces can get pretty heated pretty fast…but! With a prenup you can make this process go a lot smoother.
Did you know that you can actually have a pet provision in your prenup? Adding in a petnup can prevent the courts from deciding your pet’s fate instead of you!
When you’re bringing up or having a conversation about a prenup and getting vulnerable about finances and future goals, you can also take this time to figure out what you want to occur during the marriage as well such as:
- Who will be financially responsible for vet bills and pet insurance payments
- Who will make decisions about the pet’s healthcare
- Who’s pet is it primarily?
While the decision is up to you and your partner – remember that you want to provide the best quality of life for your new (or old) pup and if that means waiting a bit, there’s nothing wrong with that.
If you’re looking into getting a prenup, consider using HelloPrenup, the premier platform for creating prenuptial agreements online!
Julia Rodgers is HelloPrenup’s CEO and Co-Founder. She is a Massachusetts family law attorney and true believer in the value of prenuptial agreements. HelloPrenup was created with the goal of automating the prenup process, making it more collaborative, time efficient and cost effective. Julia believes that a healthy marriage is one in which couples can openly communicate about finances and life goals. You can read more about us here Questions? Reach out to Julia directly at [email protected].