Life and Death: Helping Dogs through the Grieving Process When Another Pet Dies
The Spirit of Bo, here to reflect on thoughts about life and death. It seems fitting on this Easter and Passover weekend to pause and give thanks for the life we have and to remember those who have passed on before us. It has been a challenging week for many, as people all over the world have lost family members to murders; to accidents; to illness; and to other tragedies. As humans, you go through a grieving process. For some, it takes weeks or months; for others, it can take years or even a lifetime. But how do pets respond when they lose a beloved companion? When your dog experiences the loss of another dog in the family, what happens to the surviving dog from an emotional aspect?
According to dogs.about.com (and my inner wisdom!), losing a family pet is a very sad and stressful time, not just for humans but also for the other dogs in the household.
Just like humans, dogs can react in varying ways to the death of a pet. Some may experience physical symptoms, such as loss of appetite, lethargy and even illness. Others may show no change at all. Still, some dogs might exhibit a change in behaviors. If the surviving dog was not the leader of the pack, he may now assume that role and become more outgoing and confident.
How can you help your pet through this transition?
More than likely, your surviving pet is experiencing some stress over the loss. One of the best things you can do for him is to stick to a routine and embrace a sense of normalcy for him. In doing this, you can reduce the anxiety he feels. Stick to a familiar feeding and walking schedule. He will find comfort in these routines.
Be sure to get your dog some much-needed physical exercise and stimulation. Take him for more walks; engage him in some fun tug-of-war play, provide some new and interesting toys…whatever it takes to reduce the anxiety and stress he may be experiencing.
Death is a part of life. We know that. However, your dog doesn’t really know how to deal with that loss other than to react. Continue showing him all of the love, praise and affection he deserves. After all, you are the light of his life!
Have an amazing weekend!