Andy Jones is the manager and spokesperson for Kennel Store, the UK’s largest dog housing business, and is an expert in dog behaviour and pet care.
Household pets will often form strong bonds with other members of their household, including other pets. When one pet passes away, it is common for surviving pets to experience symptoms of grief like stress and anxiety, even sometimes searching for their deceased companion.
An increase in separation anxiety is prominent in pack animals, like dogs. A dog’s grief can last between two and six months, so try to take it one day at a time with your furry friend.
Signs your pet may be grieving
- Losing their appetite
- Sleeping more than usual
- Frequent calling out (barking) for their companion who passed away
- Increased clinginess with their owners while becoming more distant from other pets that may be in the home
- Unusual destructive behaviours
- Searching for the deceased pet in common places in the home they frequented
- Restlessness or pacing
It is best to also consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical problems as these symptoms can also indicate other issues besides grief. However, if you suspect your dog is grieving, there are ways to help them with their bereavement:
Tips for helping a grieving pet
Provide comfort & support: First and foremost, grieving dogs may require more attention and affection than usual. Give your dog extra love and affection if they come to you seeking comfort and support, but remember not to smother them during an overwhelming time. If your dog appears more aloof and quiet, keep an eye on them while giving them space.
Maintain your daily routine: Dogs find comfort in predictability and routine. Despite how difficult it may be during the early stages of grief, try to maintain your usual daily routine with your pet now that their day-to-day interactions have been offset by the death of their companion. Stick to their regular routines, such as feeding and exercise times, to provide a sense of normality.
Watch their behaviour: Like humans, dogs need time to process their stress and anxiety caused by grief. Give them space while still watching over them to see if their grief persists or worsens. If they begin to dramatically decline, like not eating and drinking, take them to the vet. The passing of a companion or owner can trigger a physical reaction in dogs that can rapidly become serious