There are few things in a person’s life that are more important to them than their pets or their relationship partners. But how do these two spheres interact when they are put under the same roof? That was the question at the root of a recent survey that we at Pet Keen ran that asked participants to illuminate their relationships as it pertains to their pets and their partners. The results were a mixture of surprise and common sense.
As pets continue to rise as a dominating force in the social landscape, more people than ever before are going to have to learn to navigate having a serious human relationship as well as a serious relationship with their pets. How people navigate these waters can determine whether or not they have a solid long-term relationship or are able to own pets in a marriage.
The results of this survey help parse through pet parents, their pets, and the family dynamics between them and their human partners. These are some of the most interesting results to come out of the survey with analysis and a brief explanation of the survey and methodology.
The 12 Pet Family Dynamics Statistics
- Two thirds of people surveyed identified as the “primary pet parent.”
- Half of the people surveyed said they had owned their pets for 1 to 3 years.
- 41% of people admitted to spending a whopping 4 to 6 hours a day with their pets.
- 58% of people surveyed claimed to do all of the work in caring for their pets (including feeding, grooming, cleaning, etc.).
- The majority of respondents spend between $100 and $300 per month on their pets.
- Just over half of all respondents claim to bear the full financial burden of their pets (100% of the cost).
- 87% of respondents say pet expenses never cause a problem in their relationship.
- 36% of respondents sleep with their pets at night.
- 82% of pet owners claim they are on the same page as their partner about pets sleeping in the bed.
- 55% of people prefer snuggling with their pets and their partners at the same time.
- 65% discipline their pets without fear of harming the harmony of the home.
- One in three people admits to thinking about their pet before anything else after a bad day.
Pet Parenting Basics
1. Two thirds of people surveyed identified as the “primary pet parent”
The data shows that 68% of respondents claim to be the primary pet parent meaning they take on the bulk of the burden of caring for the pet. That means that only one in three couples that have pets together “co-parent” or share the burdens of caring for the pet. This can either show a special affinity of one partner for the pets or a general division of labor within the relationship. These numbers are similar to the overall statistics surrounding the division of labor within a shared household. A Pew Research study claims that 59% of women do more chores than their partners around the house.
2. Half of the people surveyed said they had owned their pets for 1 to 3 years.
50% of the pet owners surveyed say that they have owned their pets for 1 to 3 years. That makes most of the respondents relatively new to pet ownership. Since dogs and cats can live well past 10 years old if they remain healthy, this shows that most of the surveyed pet parents are relatively new. This tracks with the data that showed an explosion in pet ownership that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic. There were no questions regarding how long each partner has been together, so it is hard to say if old relationships are accepting new pets or if new relationships are coming with pets from the jump.
3. 41% of people admitted to spending a whopping 4 to 6 hours a day with their pets.
If people get an average of 8 hours of sleep per night, that means that a good chunk of them are spending 25% to 33% of their waking hours with their pets. And that is happening every single day. That is a lot of time to spend with a pet. It also shows that 59% of pet parents are either spending less than 4 hours per day with their pet or more. This can potentially show a divide between people who work from or stay at home versus people that have to leave the house for work. Leaving the house for work will severely decrease a person’s ability to spend long hours with their pet.
4. 58% of people surveyed claimed to do all of the work in caring for their pets (including feeding, grooming, cleaning, taking them to the vet, etc.).
Over half of the respondents claim to do everything for their pets. That shows zero division of labor in the relationship between partners regarding their pets. There is a 10-point discrepancy between people who claimed to be the “primary” parent, which shows that roughly 10% of people share some duties with their partner compared to 58% that share no duties with their partner. The respondents were asked to clarify, and they confirmed that doing everything means literally everything for their pet. Whether this lack of a fair division of labor regarding pets is intentional or unintentional is not clear.
Who Covers the Expenses?
5. The majority of respondents spend between $100 and $300 per month on their pets.
Pets are a serious expense. People who own pets and are in a relationship should discuss the financial implications of owning pets. $100 to $300 per month is not an amount that can easily be left out of a budget. A plurality of respondents claimed to pay more than $300 per month or less than $100 per month for their pets. There should also be a conversation about who has to pay for the cost of owning the pets.
6. Just over half of all respondents claim to bear the full financial burden of their pets (100% of the cost).
A simple majority, 51%, of people surveyed claimed to bear the full financial responsibility for their pets. Using other data provided, that means that half of the pet owners in a relationship are potentially spending hundreds of dollars per month out of their own accounts to pay for their pets. An unequal division of labor and finances could potentially lead to problems down the road if these things start to breed resentment between the human partners in the relationship or resentment between the person footing the bill and the pets themselves.
7. 87% of respondents say pet expenses never cause a problem in their relationship.
Despite the glaring inequality that seems to be present in relationships with pets, an overwhelming majority of respondents answered that pet expenses never cause a problem in the relationship. That is good news for the health of these relationships. On the other hand, 13% of people claimed that pet expenses sometimes or frequently cause problems in the relationship. That is not a very large portion of the people surveyed, but if you extrapolate this data out to the general population, that could result in millions of unhappy people.
Pets in the Bedroom
8. 36% of respondents sleep with their pets at night.
Over one in three people sleep with their pets at night. Assuming that most of the partners surveyed sleep together, as is common, that means that 36% of people are sleeping with one or more pets and one or more additional people in bed. That can become cozy (or squeezy) very quickly. More surprising is the fact that 64% of respondents do not sleep with their pets at night, which is perhaps higher than expected. That means that a large majority of people are presumably sleeping with just their partners in bed.
9. 82% of pet owners claim they are on the same page as their partner about pets sleeping in the bed.
The vast majority of people claim that they are on the same page as their partner when it comes to pets sleeping in bed. That is good news and should dispel any concerns about pets driving a (literal) wedge between people when it comes to sleeping arrangements. It also likely dispels any concerns or myths about dogs having a negative impact on intimacy or quality time in the bedroom after dark. Still, that leaves 18% of people that have a potential point of conflict surrounding their pets sleeping in bed with them, which is nearly one in five.
10. 55% of people prefer snuggling with their pets and their partners at the same time.
More good news for people who enjoy sleeping with their pets is the fact that over half of the people surveyed claim to enjoy snuggling with their pets and partners at the same time. That is opposed to snuggling either the pets or the partner separately. That shows that a large number of people enjoy spending communal snuggle time with the members of their immediate partnership, which can be good for bonding and relaxing. However, that means that 45% of people prefer to snuggle with either their pet or their partner. If someone prefers to snuggle their pet over their partner, that could be an awkward sticking point in a relationship.
11. 65% discipline their pets without fear of harming the harmony of the home.
Nearly two in three people claim that they can discipline their pet without fear of ruining the pet-parent relationship. They also do not fear disciplining their pet in front of their partners. This can be good for house cohesion. If everyone is on the same page about discipline and the pets respond well to discipline, it can create a more harmonious environment. Pets that misbehave or regularly get away with bad behavior can quickly become an irritant in a relationship. 13% of people admitted to never disciplining their pets at home. Hopefully, those people have perfectly well-behaved pets.
12. One in three people admits to thinking about their pet before anything else after a bad day.
Despite all participants in the survey being in committed relationships, including marriage, one in three people admits to thinking about their pet first after the end of a long day. Normally, people like to think about someone or something that is going to comfort them or offer them respite from a lousy day. The fact that so many people (346) claim to think about their pet first can be concerning for the other partner in the relationship. In fact, only 19% of respondents claimed to think about their partner first after a long day. 43% said they think about both. These people offered a bit of a cop-out since the question asked which you think about first, so it is hard to imagine that both of those come to mind simultaneously.
Our Survey Methodology
These results were compiled from a general survey taken by 1,000 people. Every person was screened to ensure that they were a pet owner who was in a committed relationship. The respondents were pooled from a variety of countries and nationalities. The questions were comprised of largely multiple choice questions with a few fill-in-the-blank answers provided for greater detail. The answers were then sorted and parsed. Many questions had more than two options which raised the possibility of some questions ending in pluralities rather than majorities.
The point of the survey was to determine the relationship dynamics between people and pets within the framework of a committed relationship. The survey wanted to determine if pets play a large role in a relationship and whether pets make relationships better, have no effect, or have an adverse effect on these relationships.
Breakdown of Pets Owned
Breakdown of Pet Sex
Breakdown of Pet Origin
Pet Social Media Presence
The survey was comprised of a total of 36 questions. Thirty questions were multiple choice, and six of the questions were long form or fill-in-the-blank. The survey had a good completion rate, with every multiple choice question receiving more than 800 responses. Long form answers received a lower response rate but still managed to generate over 100 responses each.
Fair Use Statement
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- See Also: How to Be a Good Dog Owner
Featured Image Credit: Katsiaryna Pakhomava, Shutterstock