How to Split Pet Responsibilities with a Roommate

Deciding to adopt a pet with your roommate is a big responsibility. Not only must you both agree to care for the pet, but you'll have to decide who is mostly responsible for the pet's health and wellbeing. While you can both feed, walk, bathe, and snuggle your pet, one of you must be the main caretaker to make the process easier for everyone. It also helps if one person is the main pet owner when you decide to move away from each other. 

Whether your roommate is getting married or bought a house, eventually, you may not be roommates anymore. Since splitting with your roomie and a pet can be difficult, you can set expectations early for who the pet will live with once you and your roommate no longer live together. Of course, until then, you must find a way to split responsibilities. You'll also need to factor in the fact that your roommate may not want to be responsible for a pet, but they will allow you to have one as long as you take full responsibility for them. Having a pet with a roommate comes with its own set of challenges, so it's best to make it easy from the beginning. Here's how you can split pet responsibilities with a roommate. 

Consider Their Level of Involvement

Since you're the one reading this, we can assume you're the one who wants the pet the most. Some roommates will choose not to be involved with your pet. Of course, if you're ever not home and your dog has to go outside, they will handle some of the daily chores associated with pet ownership, but you shouldn't expect to rely on your roommate if they refuse to take responsibility for the pet. 

If you're lucky, your roommate will want to love and care for the pet as much as you do, so you can find a way to get them involved in the care of the animal. Remember, not every roommate wants a pet of their own, but they might enjoy spending time with you. By asking your roommate how involved they want to be with your pet, you can start to form a schedule that will ensure your new pet's happiness. For example, if you bring home a dog, your dog will have to be let outside every six to eight hours to go potty. If you're not home, you can ask that your roommate take them outside at a certain point, thus sharing the responsibilities. 

The level of involvement may also help define expenses and who is responsible. For example, a dog or cat will need to go to the vet at least once per year, sometimes more, and they need food, toys, and treats. Your roommate can choose not to help you out financially at all and can instead ensure that your pet will be cared for whenever you're not home. Whoever is financially responsible for the dog will ultimately be its primary caretaker, which means when you guys no longer live together, that person will take the pet. 

Check Your Lease

Before bringing home an animal, whether your roommate is going to help you care for it or not, you must check your lease to ensure you have a pet policy that allows for pets. Depending on your landlord, your lease may limit the types of pets you can have, how many, size, and breed, so it's always best to check to avoid any fees you and your roommate may have to pay for any violations. 

Make a List

Before you decide who will be responsible for what, it's always best to make a complete list of what your pet needs. For example, dogs need to be walked or let out every few hours, fed at a certain time, and some need to be groomed monthly. There will also be additional chores associated with pet ownership, like vacuuming fur off the couch or cleaning the litter box. Writing down all of these care details will help you and your roommate come up with the best plan of action for taking care of a pet together based on your schedules. 

It will also set expectations to prevent arguments down the road. For example, if you are supposed to walk the dog in the morning every morning, it can upset your roommate if the dog urinates on the floor because you didn't take them out as soon as they woke up. You can also discuss where the dog should stay or sleep, depending on your roommate's level of involvement. 

Don't forget to include who is responsible for picking up after the pet when they leave a mess or have an accident. In most cases, this should be the primary owner unless they aren't home. Since accidents happen, your roommate should expect to clean them up when you're not home. 

Consider Boundaries

While you may let your dog free roam whenever and wherever they want, your roommate may not want your dog in their room, especially while they're young and still going through their rebellious phase. Since a bored dog can get destructive, you may want to discuss areas in the home where they're not allowed or where they can be kept when no one is home. Depending on your roommate's comfort level, they may prefer that your pet does not enter their room at all. 

Hold Each Other Accountable

If you and your roommate decide to split everything equally, including the care and medical treatment of the pet, you must hold each other accountable. For example, if your roommate didn't clean the litter box when they said they would, you must find a way to get them to uphold their end of the deal. By holding each other accountable, you can avoid arguments about who is responsible for different aspects of caring for the pet. 

Know When to Move Out

If you're the primary pet parent and your roommate isn't taking proper care of your pet or following your rules, know when it's time to move out or ask them to leave. Of course, you should always live with someone who loves animals and will be willing to care for them when you're not home, but you can't expect it from everyone. Since the animal is not their pet, they may feel like they don't owe you anything and can do as they please, even if it upsets the pet. For example, if your dog is anxious and doesn't like strangers, a bad roommate may have people over at all hours, causing your dog severe distress. 

Remember, being a pet parent is about caring for your animal as best as you can. Sometimes you can't do that with a roommate. 

Ashley Nielsen

Ashley Nielsen earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration Marketing at Point Loma Nazarene University. She is a freelance writer who loves to share knowledge about general business, marketing, lifestyle, wellness, and financial tips. During her free time, she enjoys being outside, staying active, reading a book, or diving deep into her favorite music. 

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