How to Help a Dog Who is Grieving the loss of a Pet Friend

It’s always an emotional time for a family when you lose a family pet. This is no different for the other pets in the house. They can experience the same stages of grief that a human does.

It’s always an emotional time for a family when you lose a family pet. This is no different for the other pets in the house. They can experience the same stages of grief that a human does. There are many thoughts and ideas about how to help a dog who is grieving the loss of a pet friend. Some are simple and others will require time and patience. It’s important to remember that you are going rough this together.

What does pet grieving pet look like look like?

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Searching or Pacing

Your dog may begin going from room to room or pacing around looking for something.  She will probably spend a lot of time circling and searching areas where her partner spent a lot of time.  Dog beds, toy boxes or that special spot on the couch where she would normally find her friend will be thoroughly and repeatedly inspected in hopes that the missing friend will return.

Crying/Whimpering

When she can’t find her partner, she may begin crying or whimpering.  Just as humans feel sadness and confusion when we lose a loved one, your dog may cry and whine.  She may come to you whimpering and “asking” for help to find her lost friend.  

Symptoms of Anxiety

An anxious dog will appear to act out. She may revert to behaviors you haven’t seen since she was a puppy, such as peeing in the house, or destroying furniture.  Your doggo may start barking when there appears to be no cause for it.  She may react badly when you leave the house.  Remember, she has not been alone when you leave for as long as your lost pet has been in her life.  When you leave the house – or even the room – she feels completely alone now.

Needy – “Velcro Dog”

In coming to you for help, she may appear very needy.  She has lost her partner and may be searching for someone to share her time with.  Her days used to be filled with a playmate.  Now she wants that interaction from you.  She may also just need to be comforted by someone safe and you are her closest friend. Sometimes, she recognizes your grief and wants to take care of you.  Her need to curl up on your lap or be glued to you wherever you go could be for both or your benefit.

Depression

Dogs can experience depression.  You may see changes in the way she interacts with you and other family members.  She may retreat to her bed and sleep longer than usual.  Some dogs may not want to play like they usually do.  All of these are signs of depression.

Lack of Appetite

Not eating may be another symptom of depression, or it may be a reaction all on its own.  Dog’s rarely go off of their food unless they are ill or experiencing emotional turmoil.  It’s probably just temporary, but if it goes on for mor than a couple of days, you should contact a veterinarian for advice.  If she stops drinking, you should contact a vet immediately to avoid dehydration.  There may be something more than the loss of her friend going on.

How to help your pet cope with the loss of another pet:

I am neither a veterinarian nor a medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post if required. All safety and medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.

Consistent Schedule

Keep routine consistent.  There is already a big change to your doggo’s daily routine, so it is best not to change anything more. The familiar is comforting.  Meals should be served at the same times, walks taken at the same times.  The pet that passed away may have required more frequent outings, or a special mealtime that was followed by all.  Although your surviving dog may not require the same schedule to be kept, it is a good idea to maintain consistency.  Maintaining a routine provides stability in a situation that has lost some of its normalcy and will provide your dog with some form of peace.

Provide Extra Attention to the Grieving Dog

Pay extra attention to your doggo.  She needs to fill the void in her life.  She used to play, sleep or even just sit stare out the window with her buddy.  That is not an option anymore and she will be looking for a new partner.  Let her curl up on the couch beside you.  Talk to her.  Take her outside when you work in the yard. Let her know you are there for her and she still has someone who loves her.

It’s important to remember to comfort her, but avoid spoiling her. If you get too carried away, you may find yourself with a whole different emotional issue to be concerned about.

Offer the Scent of the Lost Friend

One idea to help your dog would be to gather toys, bedding, clothing – anything that has the scent of the missing friend – and put it in a special place in your home for your dog to visit.  A dog’s sense of smell is directly related to her memory. Your dog may be comforted by the scent of her missing playmate. Having a place dedicated to the memory of her friend may provide her with solace at times when she is struggling with her loss.

Socialize with Dog Friends

Socializing with other dogs can offer a distraction from the missing friend.  Play dates with other dogs will substitute the playtime she used to have with her partner

Socializing her with other dogs and people can offer a distraction from the missing friend.  Play dates with other dogs can be a substitute for the playtime she used to have with her partner while allowing her to make new friends.  She will appreciate a little doggy one-on-one time that has been missing from her daily life.

Don’t Run Out and Get a Replacement Dog

You may want to run out and get another dog for her.  While this may be a good idea for some, it may not be for others.  Just as it is for humans, you can’t simply replace a life long mate. Refrain from replacing the lost companion too quickly.  Watch your dog. See how she is doing on her own.  She how she responds to other dogs. It is best to wait until she is ready for a new friend and appears to have stopped searching and/or grieving for her lost companion.

Important to Note:

The ideas provided in this post are just some ways to help your dog cope with the loss of a four-legged friend. If symptoms of depression or over sleeping last for several days, or of your dog refuses to eat for more than a couple of days, see a veterinarian as soon as possible. There are medications that can be administered to help with your dog’s emotional condition and methods of care that a trained veterinarian may recommend. 

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