Can pets have a negative effect on your relationship?

For many animal lovers it is not negotiable – their potential partners need to love animals too, and there’s just no way they would enter a household in which there are no pets! Love, however, does not care about our demands, and it’s very possible to fall for someone who does not share your sentiments about pets. Things get even more complicated if someone who would rather not have pets shows interest in you… and you already have pets who are a big part of your life. But if it really is a perfect match, you can make it work. A few Animaltalk readers shared their experiences with us.

Money talks

I love dogs, and things were okay with myself and my ex having one dog. When she started talking about another dog, I knew we might face trouble. Dogs are awesome, but they are expensive. I had doubts from the start, and getting another dog was a mistake. We would argue about the expenses while it was often a case of underlying issues coming to the fore. It was the beginning of the end for us.” – Johann du Toit*

Many psychologists agree that money is by far the most common cause for argument among married couples. Because of this, getting a new pet needs to be a decision that is made together. Even if both partners love dogs, it is not a good idea to surprise your partner by showing up at home with a cute puppy. Yes, the puppy might be showered with love, but if it turns out you simply can’t afford everything that is needed, resentment might raise its ugly head. Prevent this by first finding out all the costs involved with keeping the pet you are interested in – this includes the price of the animal himself, vet visits, a good-quality food as well as other supplies. This will give you an idea of whether your budget is pet-proof.

Household chores

It was extremely exciting to get our first dog as a married couple. We were both enthusiastic about it, and as we both work full-time we decided to divide the things that would need to be done – walking the dog, feeding, checking that he always has fresh water, taking him to the vet when needed, cleaning up accidents… Soon nothing came of this from my partner’s side, leaving me frustrated with having to do absolutely everything.” – Suzette van Schalkwyk*

All pets come with certain responsibilities, whether it be feeding or more unpleasant things like cleaning up vomit or cleaning out the cat’s litterbox. Open communication before getting your pet is once again key. If you are both keen on a pet, share the duties. There is always compromise. If it’s your job to clean up an accident in the house and you had a long day and just can’t stand the thought – how about switching with your partner? Offer to take care of the next feeding if she can help with the cleaning. Alternatively, your partner might be honest from the start, telling you that he does not want the responsibility. In this case, if you still want the pet, you will have to commit to taking care of his needs. It is, after all, the responsible thing to do.

Quality time

Lately, I’m beginning to think that he actually believes I love my dog more that I love him. I get blamed for giving the dog more attention than I give him…” – Lisa Strydom*

Yes, you love your dog, and yes, he does need a lot of time and attention. To keep the peace and prevent your significant other from getting angry with both you and your dog, you will need to carefully plan and manage your schedule. Organise your life in such a manner that you have family time, which can include your partner, children and pets. But do make some effort to work in alone time with your partner. Getting a dog sitter and going out alone might be just the thing to bring back the spark. You are allowed to love your dog! And when you tell your dog you love him, be sure to tell it to your partner as well! Some extra affection can go a long way.

Don’t make me sick!

My cat has been part of my life for many years and I love her dearly. When I met my husband, we soon discovered that he is terribly allergic to her. He takes it in his stride, but seeing him unwell leaves me feeling guilty. But I can definitely not part with my cat. It’s a very difficult situation.” – Yolande du Toit*

It can indeed cause problems if your loved one gets sick because of your pet. There are a few ways to ease the suffering. Keep you pet as well as your house very clean and consider having a cat-free space in your home, for example the bedroom. Also remember to discuss the best ways to manage the symptoms of allergies with your physician. If you are getting a new pet, there are certain breeds that are considered hypoallergenic. If you are interested in a dog, find out move about hypoallergenic breeds in the 2020 issue of Dog Directory.