By Christine D. Calder DVM DACVB
Pets just like people can grieve the loss of a companion that has passed away. Some pets are tightly bonded whereas others are mainly affected by the change in routine, structure, and overall dynamics in the home that occurs.
What are some signs to look for to indicate a grieving pet?
• Change in appetite
• Sleeping more or appearing lethargic
• Increase in vocalizations (barking and whining)
• Withdrawn behavior
• Lack of interest in walks or interactions with people
What can you do to help a grieving pet?
• Keep your routine as consistent and predictable as possible
• Increase the amount of quality time you spend with your pet playing and exercising.
• Place the collar of your deceased pet on your living pet. This helps to maintain the scent of the deceased pet and gives time for that scent to dissipate over time.
• Do not invade your pet’s personal space. Make sure you are inviting them into your space rather than the other way around.
• Reward calm and relaxed behavior.
What about adding another pet?
It depends. Although your pet may have been comfortable with its companion, this does not necessarily mean they will accept other pets with open arms. Before bringing home a new companion, consider if your pet likes other animals? Is it social? Will you have time to spend with both pets? Are you ready to commit emotionally and financially to another pet at this time?
Remember each pet is an individual and it will grieve in its own unique way. Over time, your pet’s behavior should improve, but if your pet’s behavior is concerning or continues over time, a checkup with your veterinarian is recommended.
Calder Veterinary Behavior Services