How Dogs Experience Grief

blog_ grief in dogs _banner.png

Losing a pet is a sad and stressful situation for everyone, including the other dogs in the household. You may not realize it, but dogs do grieve the loss of a companion. If you are dealing with the death of one of your dogs, there are several things you can do to help your remaining dog (or dogs) get through this difficult time.

What to expect after your dog loses a friend

Just like people, all dogs react differently to loss. Some dogs seem to act completely normal while others get deeply depressed. Certain dogs may develop health or behavior issues. Here are some common dog reactions to the death of another dog:

blog_ grief1 _poster-img.jpeg

If you notice any signs of grief in your dog, call your vet today.

  • Personality changes. Some dogs may seem to change some of their behaviors. If the dog that passed away was a leader, the dog left behind may feel it is now their responsibility to take on that job. You may notice them barking more at passersby or acting more outgoing or confident. Or, you may notice your dog is more withdrawn and quiet.

  • Physical symptoms. Dogs left behind may have physical symptoms in response to the loss of another pet. Some common symptoms include lethargy, loss of appetite, and sometimes even illness.

  • No signs. Some dogs may not even show signs after losing a companion dog. This does not mean the dog is not experiencing some kind of grief.

Stick to your routine

No matter how your dog may react to the loss of another pet, they are likely feeling the stress over the changes in the household. One of the best ways you can help your dog adjust to the loss is to stick as carefully and closely to their normal routine. Continue to feed and walk them at the same times. By sticking to the usual schedule, you are reducing their stress a great deal. Keeping a routine will also help you cope with your own grief of losing a pet.

Provide more exercise and stimulation

Chances are high that the dog that passed away played a large role in the day-to-day life of your other dog. They may have played together, napped together, ate together. Losing this relationship may leave your remaining dog feeling anxious or bored. You can help relieve or help deal with this boredom and anxiety by providing them more exercise and mental stimulation.

Some things you can do for your dog include going for an additional walk each day, providing plenty of interesting toys, starting an obedience program, and playing extra little games like fetch or tug-of-war. You can also just make time for extra cuddling and bonding time with one another.

Should I get another dog?

One of the first pieces of advice people often hear when they lose a dog is to run right out and get another dog. This is not always the right choice. Before you get another dog, here are a few things to consider:

  • Are you ready for another dog? Your life may have changed a great deal wince you first brought your dogs home and new dogs are often a lot of work. Make sure you are prepared and emotionally ready for this kind of commitment before taking on a new dog.

  • Make sure your dog will accept another dog. Although your dogs were inseparable before, this does not guarantee the remaining dog will have the same relationship with a new dog. We suggest before you bring a new song home, test out their interactions beforehand.

So let’s reiterate. Some dogs show physical symptoms of grief. Others may exhibit behavior changes. Stick to your routine and give your remaining dog lots of exercise and attention. If you notice further signs of concern or physical illness, schedule an appointment to speak with your vet.

Hear From Us Again

Don't forget to subscribe to our email newsletter for more recipes, articles, and clinic updates delivered to your inbox (here). Or, you can keep up to date by liking and following our Facebook page (here).

Related: We have more information under our dog health tags.