* A special guest post by CPC Cares – ‘Provider of Pet Cremation Services for bereaved pet owners with sensitivity and respect’.
Do pet’s grieve?
Losing a pet is one of the most difficult parts of being a pet parent; but have you ever thought about what it’s like for the remaining pet after losing a buddy? Yes, our pets do grieve and they experience a lot of the same emotions as we do.
Here is what to look out for in your remaining pet.
Signs your pet is grieving
In a multi pet household there is normally a structure or a pack hierarchy, so when one of them passes away their behavior can change drastically. Dogs and cats have defined social hierarchy of leaders and followers. So when the hierarchy is disrupted the remaining pets’ roles may be ill defined and cause behavioral changes. The submissive pet may not have anyone to follow or the leading pet may not have someone to lead. Your pet may not know how to act any longer.
- Their social interaction may decrease. You may find that they are hiding more or separating themselves from the rest of the family.
- They may have a lack or increase in appetite.
- Some dogs may pace or even look like they are ‘searching’ for their lost loved one. Vocalizing excessively may occur in some dogs; urination and grooming habits may change in cats.
How you can help your grieving pet
Helping your pet adjust to the loss may have the added benefit of helping you cope as well.
1) Try not to ‘reward’ broody or sulky behavior and engage in different activities. This is a good way for your pet to learn their new position in the family and help them move on from their loss. Over time, you may find that your pet will look to you for leadership or their personality may become more confident.
2) Dogs keep learning throughout their whole lives, so a training class or a private lesson can help you both learn some new skills. This can help your grieving dog be more confident and sure of themself.
3) Increase your pet’s activities. Whether it be a little extra brushing, a new toy, longer play sessions or more quality time with you. Doing the things that they love to do can really benefit them and help them adjust to life without their companion. It may help you feel better as well.
4) Provide more exercise and stimulation. The pet that passed away very likely played a large part in the day to day life of your remaining pet. They may have played together, fought with each other, ate with each other or napped together. Now that they aren’t around it may leave the remaining pet feeling anxious or bored.
5) Try adding an extra walk in the day for dogs or providing more interesting toys for either cats or dogs to play.
Should you get another pet to fill the void?
There is no right or wrong answer to this question, but we advise that you don’t make any rash decisions. There will be many factors to consider; like is it the right time in terms of grief. You may also want to consider the amount of free time you may now have or finances. If all these aren’t in order, then it might not be the best decision to get another pet. Dogs can go without another companion for a while and some dogs may even flourish. The same goes for cats; they are very independent and after being on their own for period of time, they may find it quite difficult to re adjust.
If you feel like your dog needs another canine companion but you’re not ready for another dog, then plan dog play dates with friends who also have dogs. Training classes and dog parks are a great way to get them out and socialising.
If you do decide that getting another pet is for you, then get your existing pet to help with the selection. Some shelters will allow you to bring your pet to meet their prospective new companion. Allowing them to meet first gives a higher chance that you’ll find the most compatible pet.
A lot of the time pets just need some time to deal with their loss, much like humans. This will give you, your family and your other pet time to grieve and rediscover their place, and eventually, open your hearts to love again.
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