After a Breakup, Who Gets the Pet?

Whatever happens, you both need to prioritize your pet’s health and happiness.

Compassion and logic are key when figuring out how to care for your pet after a breakup. By: Free-Photos

Happily ever after just isn’t in the cards for some relationships.

It’s sad but true. And when a relationship ends, splitting up your belongings might also entail sharing custody of a beloved pet.

If you find yourself in this difficult situation, it’s best to approach it with both compassion and logic.

Managing a Schedule

Keep in mind that pets like routine. If there is a big change in your household — like someone moving out — your pet is going to be stressed out.

Deciding on a custody schedule should be done with your pet’s best interest in mind. Slowly introduce them to the new routine and give them time to adjust. If you begin by trading Rusty every other day, the confused dog may develop behavioral issues from the anxiety.

If your breakup was amicable enough that you can spend time at your ex’s home to provide comfort and reassurance to Rusty, that may help him adjust to your absence. From there, consider having Rusty stay with your ex for a week and with you the next week.

If Rusty doesn’t develop any concerning behavioral issues, then you may find more flexibility in the custody schedule.

Troubleshooting Complications

Even if you and your ex are both eager to make Rusty as happy as possible, problems are bound to arise.

  • Living in the same town as your ex would be ideal for ease of sharing custody, but that often isn’t the case. Depending on the distance, splitting time with your pet may be difficult — if not impossible.
  • Let’s face it: Not all pets like going for car rides. If Rusty isn’t a fan of vehicular travel, make alternative plans to get some visiting hours in.
  • Shared expenses are a big topic. Who will take Rusty to vet appointments? Who will foot the bill for grooming and boarding? Make these decisions early to avoid confusion later on.
  • If possible, try to keep going to the same vet, groomer and kennel for Rusty as you did before the breakup. Also, take the dog to the same dog park, day care and pet supply store.

There are a lot of potential issues that can occur when trying to share custody of your pet after a breakup, but if you approach each with your pet’s health and happiness in mind, you’ll have a better chance of succeeding.

Keep your pet’s routine stable as you and your ex navigate your breakup. By: monicore

Keeping Your Pet Happy and Healthy

If you’re thinking about sharing custody, then Rusty has to be your number 1 priority. Think about his comfort and happiness.

Consider splitting Rusty’s toys, bedding and other belongings with your ex so he has familiar objects in each of your homes. Make sure that you are both feeding your pets the same brand of food and treats, and using the same brand of kitty litter.

When you and your ex are together with Rusty, try to keep your conversations light and pleasant. Pets are sensitive and can become scared or anxious when their people are fighting and yelling.

Follow up with your ex about routine vet care. Don’t just assume that Rusty has been seen for his annual checkup. His health and well-being are very important, especially if he’s going through a stressful situation. And don’t hesitate to take him to the vet if he begins acting anxious or seems ill. He may be reacting to the sudden change in routine.

Did you know they made an entire rom-com on this very topic?:

Working It Out

Not every pet is a candidate for shared custody. And not every couple will want to do it. Sometimes the answer is easy: One of you lives in pet-friendly housing and the other doesn’t. But it’s not always that simple.

When you get a pet as a couple, who keeps that pet when the relationship ends? If you are both willing to try shared custody, that’s the first step to making a more solid decision down the road.

Maybe Rusty prefers to stay with one person over the other. Maybe your lifestyle changes after the breakup, and you realize that you’re not the best home for Rusty. Or maybe you and your ex get back together and Rusty can stay with you both.

But whatever the circumstances, always do what’s best for your pet.

Allison Gray

View posts by Allison Gray
Allison Gray gained a wealth of knowledge about animal welfare issues and responsible pet care during her nearly 5 years of work for an animal shelter. She is a writer, photographer, artist, runner and tattooed remedial knitter. Allison also has been researching, testing out and perfecting nutritious pet treat recipes in her kitchen for Petful since spring 2017.

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