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Do Pets Grieve?

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Do pets grieve over the loss of another pet?

Yes, many pets may grieve a loss. Pets experience feelings of grief when they lose a pet in their home, especially dogs because they live in “packs.” The closeness of the relationship they had with their pet friend, the amount of time spent together and age, are some factors that may determine the extent and visibility of their grief.

As with people, pets in a household will express their grief differently. What is important for you as a pet parent is to know and recognize when your pet is grieving. Being aware of your pet’s feelings will help you be able to give them what they need.

What are the signs of grief in a pet?

  • Restless in sleep
  • Loss of appetite
  • Quieter than normal communication
  • Searching for their pet friend who is gone
  • Wandering aimlessly
  • Demanding more attention than usual

How to help your pet.

It is difficult for a pet to see a member of the family leave and never return. Many pets will search the house incessantly trying to find the missing their friend, the missing family member. To help your pet through this difficult time, it is important that you give the surviving pet the opportunity to say good-bye before their friend is laid to rest. Pets can say good-bye in the following ways, by:

  • Bringing a favorite toy to the deceased pet
  • Pawing at the body to try and make it wake up
  • Laying beside the deceased pet
  • Sniffing the deceased pet’s body
  • Howling
  • Trying to cover the body with a blanket or dirt with their nose

Try to keep your pet’s routine as close to the same as possible but include extra care and attention, as needed during this time of grief. Add more “together” time by taking longer walks or more car rides. You might find that they will sleep in areas they hadn’t in the past, including their deceased pet’s bed or special spot. This is normal behavior and part of the grieving journey.

Pets are so much like us. They bond and form relationships that can last a lifetime. And like us too, they will feel the loss of another pet. Helping your pet deal with the loss of another pet can help you cope, as well.