The Impact on Pets in Divorce: 3 Vital Things to Consider

Nothing about divorce is easy. And while you’re dealing with the stress of a divorce, it’s important to think about our pets in divorce and how they are impacted. Divorce affects your pets more than you think, here’s what you need to know.

Divorce is never easy, whether it’s amicable or not, there is so much that needs to be considered and sorted out. Who stays where? How do you split the belongings? If you have children, how will you handle the custody? And then, of course, who gets the pet?

Nowadays, pets are basically our children and they become a big part of the family so trying to decide where the fur-baby goes and who handles the expenses is no easy task.

But a big thing to consider is how your pet is feeling.

The impact on pets in divorce

One of the biggest reasons that pets are rehomed or given to the SPCA is due to divorce. We don’t judge this decision because we can’t imagine how difficult it can be to make that choice, but it definitely isn’t the only way to do things.

When going through your divorce, it’s important to think about how your pet is feeling which could cause them to change their usual behaviour. Your pet could start experiencing:

Separation anxiety

Your pet may begin to feel panicked which can cause them to experience separation anxiety when you leave the house. Particularly with dogs, anxiety may cause them to mess in the house, chew, dig or bark incessantly when left alone. This change in behaviour can be frustrating to you but it’s so vital to remember that this is how your dog is showing you that they’re anxious.

Consider leaving a treat or two when you leave your doggo or leaving them in a dog play-pen when you leave them in the house. You could also leave your dog at a doggy daycare too. As your doggo adjusts to their new routine, they’ll begin to settle better.


Some pets may suffer from a bit of depression when they’re stressed. Symptoms of depression in pets include:

  • Sleeping a lot more often
  • They don’t enjoy playing or activities they used to love
  • They’re either eating too much or too little
  • Obsession with licking their paws
  • Acting nervously, hiding or trying to avoid you

Minor depression will begin to get better on its own as your pet starts to feel better with time and lots of love. But if these symptoms go on for too long, you’ll need to have you’re your fur baby assessed by a vet.


Some pets react to stress with feelings of defensiveness or aggression. They may bite, snap, hiss, or growl more which you need to handle very quickly. Chat to your vet or contact an obedience trainer for some assistance.

The best way to minimise the impact on your fur baby

As a pet parent, it’s your job to help your pet feel comforted and loved during this difficult time. Here’s what you can do:

Plan ahead

Okay, this option doesn’t really help if you’re in the middle of a divorce and you didn’t have the plan. And to be fair, no one really plans on getting divorced. BUT just like you’d plan to protect your finances and belongings in the event of you splitting up with your partner, you should have a pet plan in place.

Now, this can be a legal plan that is included in your antenuptial agreement, or it can be an agreement that you and your partner settle on. Perhaps think about who has bonded more with your fur baby? Who has the financial means to take care of your pet on their own or do you want to split the custody of your pets?

Consider splitting custody

Everyone is different and different options will work best for each unique situation. Would it perhaps be better for everyone if you split the custody of your fur-child? It’s possible.

You could work something out that works for everyone, but you need to make sure that this doesn’t negatively impact your pet if they aren’t easy-going enough to enjoy going to different houses.

It could be better for you to possibly agree that one partner keeps the pet and the other can look after the them when it’s necessary or take your pup for regular walks. That way you can still see your fur baby.

Always put your pet first

No matter what decisions you make, put your fur baby first. They are probably stressed and nervous about all the changes they’re going through so be mindful of that.

If a more stable home is a better option for your fur baby then find a way to rehome them but make sure you choose a happy home for them! If shared custody works, then do that. Just be sure to be aware of how your pet is reacting to all the changes going on around them.

Think about who has the time, space, resources, and, most importantly, the bond that will keep your pet thriving – you’ll know what to do.

Seraphinite AcceleratorOptimized by Seraphinite Accelerator
Turns on site high speed to be attractive for people and search engines.