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Helping your grieving pet

By February 26, 2021 Uncategorized

Losing a pet can be tough on everyone in the family, including our other pets.  While they may not fully grasp the significance of the loss, it’s clear they grieve in their own way.

Pets develop relationships much like we do with each other or other animals. As many of our pets are confined to our homes, their furry siblings are their whole universe. They recognize their position in the family and find comfort in stability. The surviving pet may display signs of distress or anxiety and often play off of our emotions of sadness. Pets, especially dogs respond to death much like human toddlers respond. They may not totally grasp the concept of forever loss but feel the sense of the current loss.

Our pets do not share their thoughts with us verbally, so seeing the signs of grief may be difficult at first. Here are some things to watch for should you lose a furry family member.

Change in appetite

This may include a decreased appetite to completely going off food all together.

Changes in vocalization

Cats and dogs may bark, meow, or howl more than usual.

Changes in habits

Some pets may begin to sleep more than usual. Some pets may be affected differently and may pace more. Some will go into hiding or sulk.

Changes in personality

In a study it was shown that 60% of animals who have lost a companion pet have clung to their humans more. On the other hand, some have withdrawn their attention. Some may become destructive.


How can I help my grieving pet?

Here are some tips:

Provide a closure

If possible, let your pet see the body of the deceased pet. One last visit may help him/her to understand that his friend is gone.

Control your emotions

It may be easy to lean on your pet for emotional support but try to keep it short. Speak in upbeat tones to your pet and be aware at how your pet responds to your voice/emotions.

Spend quality time with your pet

Spending time with your pet during the grieving process is as important to them as it is to you. Be careful not to reinforce unwanted behavior. Try something new like introducing a new toy or treat, taking a walk on a different path or scoping out a new park. Also make sure to keep your same routine. Pets like familiarity and sticking to the same routine you had before and trying not to disrupt the daily schedule.


Seek out help should your pet go days without eating or have continued behavior or attitude changes.


Contributors: Lynn Buzhardt, DVM
© Copyright 2020 LifeLearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.




Author fergusfalls

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