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What to Do When Your Pet Is Grieving, Too

Category: 

Grieving Process

Posted On: Mar 08, 2017

What to Do When Your Pet Is Grieving, Too

People who don't own pets don't realize that animals can and do grieve, as well. Losing an animal is painful beyond words. You lose a source of unconditional love and support, you lose an integral part of your family, and you lose a friend, as well. What about your other pets, however? As any pet owner can tell you, animals know when one of their siblings or friends is sick. Likewise, they know when someone is now missing from their lives. Even if you didn't think your pets got along, your remaining animals will likely behave differently following the loss of another animal. They need to be comforted, too. Here's what you can do to sooth your remaining pet's anguish and depression.

Keep an Eye on Your Surviving Pet

In the weeks and months following the death of your animal, pay close attention to your remaining pet. Note any changes in behavior or attitude, as well as sleeping or eating patterns. A grieving animal may sleep even more than usual, or s/he might have trouble sleeping. Her or his appetite can all but disappear, as well.

Stick to a Daily Routine

Routines help grieving humans and animals, but they're especially important for your pet. Try to get up at the same time every day. Feed your pet at set times. Make a schedule that involves walks and playtime at the same intervals. The consistency will comfort your surviving pet.

Back to Food

The subject of food deserves a deeper look. Ensure that all mealtimes occur at the same time. Don't even move your pet's food and water bowls. It's common for a bereaved animal to be off her or his feed for a few days. However, if your pet is barely eating or drinking, don't let it go on for very long. Take your pet to the vet before anything serious occurs.

Don't Reward Depressive Behavior

This is a hard one. It does not mean that you shouldn't comfort your pet. You can stroke your pet, cuddle together, and sit quietly together, just like always. However, if your pet displays negative or depressive behavior, you can't reward it or else s/he will continue acting that way later, just to get attention. If your animal starts to behave badly, try some distraction techniques, instead. Play games, go for a walk, or throw a toy.

Don't Try to Replace Your Deceased Pet too Quickly

Quickly introducing a new animal into the family is likely to backfire. For one thing, you cannot replace a dead pet with a new one. Everyone needs to be ready first, including your surviving animals. Your pet may not react well to a new animal—that's too much change at once. Try to wait a few months before you look for the next pet that will fit in with your family.

You also want to avoid emotional displays around your pet. It will upset her or him by increasing nerves and anxiety. The sad thing is that your pet will rush to comfort you while being in turmoil.