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Helping Your Other Animals Grieve the Loss of a Pet June 23, 2015

grieving dog

When a family pet passes away, humans are not the only ones who feel the loss. Other pets in the home have spent a lot of time in close contact with the deceased pet, and may exhibit some signs of grief or depression after the loss.

Signs Your Pet is Grieving

While some pets may not express any outward changes after a fellow pet passes away, many pets exhibit behavioral changes after the loss of a companion. The impact of the loss may be greater if the surviving pet is highly social or had a strong bond with the pet that has passed. Animals also pick up on humans’ emotional cues, so your pet’s behavior may be a reflection of your feelings after the loss of a beloved pet.

Listed below are some of the most common signs of grief in pets:
• Listlessness, lethargy, or restlessness
• A sharply decreased appetite or lost appetite altogether
• Lack of interest in favorite activities or in spending time with people
• Uncharacteristic meowing, whimpering, or howling

Note that while these symptoms are often signs of grief, they also may be signs of serious illness, so please consult your veterinarian if your pet exhibits some or all of the symptoms listed above.

How to Help Your Pets Cope with Loss

While it is natural for your other animals to grieve the loss of their companion, there are some strategies you may use to help your animals during this time.

If the situation allows, it may be helpful for the surviving animal to see the deceased body of your pet. This will help them more fully understand their companion’s absence, as opposed to having the pet simply disappear from the home.

As much as possible, try to maintain your normal routine after the loss of one of your pets. This will help provide a continued feeling of stability and comfort to your surviving animals, who may feel unsettled by the absence of the deceased pet.

While you should give your animals lots of love and attention after the loss of your other pet, you should avoid feeding into or rewarding their negative emotions. Instead, keep them busy with favorite activities like running or playing, or even teach them a new trick to keep their minds occupied.

Lastly—but very importantly—don’t try to introduce a new pet to the home too soon. Your pet needs stability during their time of grief, and the addition of a new animal may upset them and cause a negative reaction. Wait until you and your pet have fully mourned your loss before you consider adding a new animal to your family.

Find Pet Loss Support at Paws, Whiskers & Wags

At Paws, Whiskers & Wags, Your Pet Crematory, our community of animal-lovers is a supportive and encouraging environment for those grieving after the loss of a pet. If you have recently lost a beloved pet, we invite you to join us for our monthly Pet Loss Support Group meetings, held on the first Tuesday of every month at Paws, Whiskers & Wags in Decatur, GA.

Our website also offers helpful pet loss resources to help you and your animals cope with the passing of a beloved pet.