Animals are not property or “things” but rather living organisms, subjects of a life, who are worthy of our compassion, respect, friendship, and support.
~ MARC BEKOFF, Minding Animals
Divorce is emotional all the way around. But have you ever considered how it might be affecting your dog? According to the latest National Pet Owners Survey, approximately 71.1 million U.S. households own pets, with about 44 million of those being dogs. Not only does the dog feel your tension, but he also senses the arguing over him. With more couples having fewer children today, many are beginning to view their pets as their kids or companions rather than see them as just their family dog. It makes sense then that we see an uptick in custody battles over the family pet. But how is Fido dealing with all this contention?
But how is Fido dealing with all this contention?
Dogs tend to be very empathic and are sensitive to your families’ needs. During your divorce, the emotional turmoil can adversely affect your dog. One of you may have moved out, and the other one may be angry or crying much of the time. It’s possible your dog is being shuffled back and forth from home to home, and their routine has completely changed.
Veterinary experts agree, that while it can be difficult to diagnose depression in dogs, they do appear to experience short-term depression, especially during periods of change. Their symptoms can mimic those of an adult suffering depression.
Here are six signs that your doggy may be suffering depression as you divorce.
While these symptoms can also mimic illness in your dog, please have your pet examined by a veterinarian to be sure.
1. They Sleep a Lot
Dogs can become withdrawn and sleep a lot when they’re feeling down. They may appear to lose motivation and have less energy for their normal daily activities. They might spend a lot of time in their favorite resting spot. When encouraged to do something, he might lift his head, give you that sad, soulful look, and put his head back down.
2. Their Appetite Decreases
Dogs are known to stop eating, leave some food in their bowl, and lose a significant amount of weight when they are stressed. If your dog’s eating habits have changed, it may be a sign of depression.
3. They’re Not Interested in Their Daily walks or Activities
When a dog is happy and content, he appears eager to go for a walk or chase the frisbee. If he is suffering from depression, he may seem more subdued and less motivated to participate in the activities he usually loves.
4. They Start to Cry or Whimper
Occasionally, Fido may look off into the distance and cry or whimper. When he senses conflict, or that the routine of things has changed, he feels uncomfortable and uneasy. He perhaps misses his other (the absent spouse) very much.
5. They Groom, Lick or Bite Themselves Excessively
Dogs express their anxiety by excessively grooming and licking. If your dog is doing this behavior, be on the lookout for some hot spots on his body. He may need attention from the vet, and a dog collar to prevent him from developing sores and infection.
6. They Have Accidents in the Home, are Destructive and Digging
Unexplained incontinence or accidents in the home may be a sign that your dog is emotionally upset. So might destructive behaviors inside and outside the home such as chewing on the furniture, or digging in the yard outside.
If your dog could tell you how he’s feeling, it would make things so much easier. Be on the lookout for signs he may be suffering from depression. Have him checked out by your vet to be sure he’s okay, and try to give him some extra love and attention each day.
Brave Hearts. Honor Your Courage. Honor Your Knowing.
FAQs About Your Dogs Health During Divorce:
How do I know if my dog is depressed during my divorce?
Your dog will be depressed during your divorce because he can sense the tension in your home. To be sure, you would need to take him to a pet though. Signs of depression in dogs include sleeping a lot; loss of appetite; crying or whimpering; grooming, licking or biting themselves excessively; digging in the backyard or showing no interest in their walks.
Will I have to fight for my dog’s custody in a divorce case?
You will have to fight for your dog’s custody along with your divorce when your spouse wants to keep him too. Many couples see their pets as their children or friends and attach a great importance to them. Custody battles on pets have gone up recently.
Will my dog be depressed If I am depressed?
Dogs can be depressed if you’re depressed during a time of crisis or change. Veterinary experts believe depression is not easily detected in dogs, but evidence suggests dogs do go through short-term periods of depressions.
What happens to my dog’s health during divorce?
Your dog’s health during divorce can show signs of deterioration, especially if you and your spouse argue endlessly. Sometimes a spouse may move out of the house after having differences and consequently the other spouse may feel depressed. Dogs can sense it. Another troubling routine for dogs pertains to shuttling between two houses when spouses split.
Can dogs sense tension when their owners argue?
Several researchers show that dogs not only understand what their owners are saying but can also feel the tension in the house when arguments take place.
Jamie Daniel, MS, LMFT went into the field of clinical counseling with a heart to help others going through the journey of divorce recovery.
6 Signs Your Dog is Depressed About Your Divorce