Do pets need siblings?

The season of Valentine’s Day often makes us reflect on the love we have in our lives. For many of us, we cherish our loving relationship with our pets. This can often lead to thoughts of increasing that love by adding another cat or dog to the home – either for your sake, or because you think your cat or dog would enjoy it. But do they? Do cats and dogs need other pets at home? And will your home be happier or crazier with another pet?

Consult with your Vet

Do pets get lonely?

This is likely the question driving many owners’ thoughts on getting another dog. Dogs are innately social animals, so it makes sense to think they prefer to be with a family or group – but that group does not have to be other dogs. Now a domesticated, socialized species, many dogs are happy with just their owners/family. And while some dogs need regular social stimulation, others are happy to lounge at home all day while you’re at work, as long as they get a walk and a cuddle in the evenings. As with many pet psychology questions, this one is more about your individual dog. If your dog gets destructive or acts out while you’re gone, you may have a dog that needs more social time than others.

As for cats, while they are infamously aloof creatures, many cats do attach to their owners and miss them when they’re gone. Cats, like dogs, can get stressed and destructive when left too long without stimulation or socialization. Again, though, this varies widely on the cat’s nature and its bond with its owner.

Will having another pet make my pet happier?

Cats are often reported to seem happier when they have another cat at home – but only if the cats get along. One easy way to ensure cats appreciate their fellow feline is to adopt two cats from the same litter. If that’s not possible, you run the risk of cats not getting along – which not only doesn’t cure loneliness, but can cause significantly more problems (fighting, house destruction, food wars, etc.). If you’re considering adding a new cat to the family, try to get a “trial period” to introduce the cats and see if they will bond before you have to fully adopt.

Similarly, the easiest way to form a dog family is to first adopt siblings. But if that’s not possible, you need to do your research to find a dog that will get along with the one you have. Some dogs are territorial and will much prefer a home without other dogs, while other types of dogs will happily welcome new members of the group. Know the personality of your dog and the one you might adopt before forcing them to live together.

And finally, if you’re thinking of having a cat and a dog at home – know that this could work really well or horribly, so be flexible. Domesticated dogs have generally been bred to be easy-going and loving toward most animals, so many dogs will happily welcome a cat, rabbit or other animal into the home. But some dogs will still resort to their wild natures and try to threaten or harm new animals in the home. American Humane offers some helpful tips on figuring out if your cats or dogs might get along in the first place, and then how best to introduce them.

But what if I want another pet for me?

It actually makes a lot more sense for you to add pets to your home because you want them – not because you have tried to interpret your pet’s feelings on the matter. As long as you have the room, finances, ability to get to the vet, and time to care for a new pet, then it may work out well to add one (see our list of things you should be prepared to do before getting a pet). As mentioned above, though, you’ll need to consider your current pet’s personality before adding another family member. Give your current pet the time and space to adjust to new pets, and whenever possible, allow yourself to return a new pet if the relationship doesn’t work out. Remember, you’ve committed to provide a lifelong home to your current pet, so that should trump your interest in adding a new one.

If you have any questions about introducing new pets, your pet’s loneliness or personality, make an appointment with our vets today.

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Posted in Pet Behavior

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