How a Pet Can Help You Heal from a Divorce or Break-up

There’s little more emotionally devastating to us as humans than losing someone close to us. Whether that person has died or we’ve suffered a devastating break-up or divorce, that relationship was an essential part of our lives, and we have a deep, dark hole in its place. 

Fortunately, during these times and other times of struggle and emotional upheaval, our pets can not only provide the support and comfort we crave but also that unconditional love we may have lacked toward the end of a relationship. 

Are we better off as humans with our loving pet companions? Most definitely! 

What are some benefits of owning a pet?

Studies say having a pet can reduce stress, provide essential companionship, and offer a sense of grounding routine and responsibility after a loss. Your pet is part of your family, and for those who have suffered a serious heartbreak, your pet can be the most loving, accepting family member of all. 

Your pet is your personal judgment-free zone

Your pet doesn’t hold a grudge, overstep boundaries, throw passive-aggressive barbs your way, or belittle you if dinner is a little late. What you get is simple, unconditional love. Every time you walk in the door, their eyes light up, and a tail wags. You are a personal god in their eyes, no matter how grumpy or depressed you’ve been or how many days you have worn the same sweats.

You have to be responsible

You’d love to crawl up in a ball in the corner of your sofa and never talk to another living soul right now, but your pet needs you. There is walk time, dinner time, and maybe even bath time. With a pet, you are needed, important, and loved. And you’re a better version of yourself for all that love and responsibility in your life.

You laugh even when you don’t feel like it

You feel like you’ve been drowning in a personal sea of doom. But when you get home, your pet is there to remind you how much fun a roll of toilet paper can be. You're the worthy recipient of the fifth half-eaten sock of the week. And here’s your new tube of mascara, minus the wand, just for you. Can we go out now, please, please, please? 

It’s hard to be angry when you’re the center of the universe to this funny furball. 

You are forced to be physically active

Your pet provides endless opportunities for getting outside and getting in your 10,000 steps. No expensive gym memberships and workout gear required. Just a leash. Think of it this way: Your sweet pet is actively saving you from endless hours in front of the TV with a tub of cookie dough ice cream. And you never know what new friends you might meet on one of these daily walks. 

There’s a reason pets are used for emotional support. They know when you’re feeling down or upset and can provide comfort and companionship that is very different from human interaction. You don’t have to say a word. Your pet already knows how you feel.

It’s not just dogs and cats

While dogs and cats are the most common pets, other animals can be therapeutic in their own ways. Birds have very distinctive personalities and will develop strong bonds with their humans. Fish recognize their owners, and watching them in an aquarium setting can be meditative and calming. The key to the therapeutic effect of a pet is not the type of pet but the bond between the pet and the owner. 

Is adopting a new pet a good idea after a divorce or break-up?

If you don’t have a pet, is your post-divorce phase a good time to get one? That depends.

On the one hand, bringing a new pet into your life can provide you with companionship and all the aforementioned benefits. And adopting a homeless animal gives you a sense of purpose. But remember that a new pet will take some time to get comfortable with you and its new surroundings, especially if it’s coming from an already stressful environment like an animal shelter. 

Caring for a new pet can be challenging in the beginning. Here are some questions to ask yourself before getting one:

  • Does your current lifestyle give you the space, time, and resources needed to care for a new pet? Or would the addition just be another source of stress?
  • Do you spend enough time at home for a new pet? 
  • Can you afford the costs of pet care, including food, veterinary visits, and grooming? 
  • Do you feel emotionally ready for this?

Going into pet ownership with a good sense of your needs and the needs a potential pet would have is important.

FAQ about pets and divorce

Are pets affected by divorce?

As the intuitive creatures they are, pets can be very sensitive to any changes in routine or environment. During a divorce or break-up, it’s not uncommon for a pet to exhibit signs of anxiety or stress.

How do you cope with losing a pet in a divorce?

Losing a pet in a divorce is like losing a family member. You will have to grieve this loss in whatever way and time you need. Don’t let others diminish your feelings just because your pet is “only an animal.” They are part of your family, and you must deal with their loss like you would any other family member. 

Healing from a break-up takes time. The unconditional love and companionship a pet provides can help distract you from the pain and give you a sense of routine and purpose. 

At Hello Divorce, we know that every divorce is unique, and we want to make it as effortless and supportive for you as possible. Whether you can benefit from one of our online DIY plans, our affordable flat-rate professional services, or our online library of resources, we are here for you. Schedule a free call to learn more about how we can help. 

Divorce Content Specialist
Mediation, Divorce Strategy, Divorce Process, Mental Health
Candice is a former paralegal and has spent the last 16 years in the digital landscape, writing website content, blog posts, and articles for the legal industry. Now, at Hello Divorce, she is helping demystify the complex legal and emotional world of divorce. Away from the keyboard, she’s a devoted wife, mom, and grandmother to two awesome granddaughters who are already forces to be reckoned with. Based in Florida, she’s an avid traveler, painter, ceramic artist, and self-avowed bookish nerd.