Helping Your Pet Overcome Grief

DogLosing a family pet can be a very sad and trying time as they are the heart of many households. Every member of the family will feel the loss of their companion who has provided so much love and happy memories during their lifetime. This is especially the case for homes who have multiple furry friends – our animals can too mourn the loss of a fellow pet. Just like their owners, pets can experience grief in many different ways – in some pets you may not notice any change in behaviours, whilst in others it may be more obvious. If you have unfortunately experienced the loss of one of your pets, there are some signs of grieving in your pet to look out for:

  • Seemingly depressed or listless
  • Potentially decreased appetite and unwillingness to play
  • Sleeping more, along with slow, lethargic movement
  • Unsettledness, searching around the home environment 

Some may attribute this behaviour more to the fact that the remaining pet’s routines may have been affected by the loss, i.e. canine interaction and play time. Dogs are habitual by nature and a disruption to routine may cause them to become unsettled. If you have recently lost a family pet and have noticed signs of grief in your other companion animals, we have some steps you can keep in mind:

Be Honest

As much as we wish it was the case, dogs cannot understand what we are saying however it can be helpful for both yourself and your pet, to verbally communicate what has happened. Very often our pets can tap into the emotion behind our words and this will help get the point across.

Share the Love

Many owners will be naturally inclined to take this step anyway but it will be important to spend lots of quality time with your pet, enjoying some of their favourite hobbies – be that playing fetch, paying a visit to the beach, or adventuring with walks or hikes.

Keep Behaviours in Check

The loss of a pet may cause your remaining pet to exhibit some unusual or inappropriate behaviours. Dogs for example may be more vocalized with howling – it is recommended to ignore this behavior so it does not become a common habit. During the grieving process, it’s important to keep in mind that extra treats are not the best way you can comfort your pet – focus more on your presence and the additional companionship you can offer.

Overcoming the loss of a pet can take some time, but of course, time is healing. Always think long and carefully about the idea of finding a replacement animal, as this may not always be the best solution – in some cases it could cause more undue stress during an already difficult time. When the time is right to introduce a new furry member to your family, please do consider rescuing as there are so many animals just waiting for their second chance.

Whatever your circumstances, you’ll always be able to keep the memory of your pet close to your heart.