Supporting Grieving Pets
Losing a pet can be overwhelming, not just for ourselves but also for our other furbabies who remain with us. Our pets may not understand the significance of another pet passing away, however they may certainly notice their absence.
Our pets are also very sensitive to our human emotions, so it’s possible that they will pick up on your sadness and feel some anxiety as a result.
In this article, we describe the different ways that pets can react to their loss and how we can best support them through this difficult time.
How To Recognise Signs Of Grief In Your Pets
Here are some signs that your pet might be struggling with grief:
- Changes in appetite
- Acting withdrawn or despondent
- Whining or howling (dogs), or yowling and crying (cats)
- Changes in personality, e.g. a need for more attention
- Pacing or searching the house for the lost pet
- Hiding from or avoiding other family members
- Changes in grooming or bathroom habits, especially in cats
- Destructive behaviour such as chewing or scratching furniture
- Becoming anxious when you leave the house
How To Support Your Pets
- Talk to your pets in a calm and upbeat voice as often as possible. They will be reassured that if you seem ok, then everything else must be ok too.
- Distract your pets with new activities, toys or games.
- Indulge your pet in their favourite pastimes such as a trip to the dog beach, a play date or a special treat.
- If your pet’s demeanour doesn’t improve over time, you should consult your vet for further advice.
It can be easy to overlook signs of depression or distress in our pets when we are coping with a devastating loss ourselves. However you may find that giving your furbabies some extra attention at this time can assist with the healing process for both of you. You may even establish a deeper bond, brought about by your shared experience of love and loss.