How to Ease Grief in a Pet When There's a Death of a Pack Member

Loosing a pet is difficult and comes as a hard reality to your family members - including your pets. Though it is uncertain if pets understand the finality of another pets death it is well-documented that animals are capable of experiencing grief and loss of a family member.

Dogs and cats tend to see the family, including each other, as a unit and come to understand where their social position is in relation to the rest of the pack. When a 'pack' member dies, your animal may become uncertain of their role and how they fit in. You might begin to notice:

  • Changes in appetite;

  • Acting withdrawn or despondent;

  • Whining or howling in dogs;

  • Yowling or consistent crying in cats;

  • Pacing the home;

  • Hiding in dark spaces;

  • Changes in grooming or bathroom habits;

  • Close attachment habits;

  • Destructive habits;

  • Development of separation anxiety;

  • Not interested in playing.

Helping Your Grieving Pet Before/After you Euthanise the Other Pack Member:

  • Allow them to say their goodbyes with an activity they shared;

  • If feasible - euthanise your animal in your home and allow your animal(s) to come in and sniff them after the passing;

  • If you put your animal down at the veterinarians office - find a vet that is willing to allow your other animal to come so that they are able to sniff their pack member after they pass (Note: you will not want them in the room while they are being euthanised - due to complications that can arise during the euthanisation process);

  • Stay Positive - continue to talk to your remaining pets in a calm and upbeat voice;

  • Engage in new activities with your remaining pets - maybe start a new training with them or find a new game to play;

  • Continue Old Habits - continue the same routine you had before had to euthanise your animal;

  • Join a pet loss coping group on Facebook or through your vet.

The loss of a pet is a difficult time for your entire family. Each family member will cope within their own time - but remembering to provide comfort and support to your fur-babies during this time is aiding through the grieving process.

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