When a dog has grown up with a friend its entire life, they complete each other in a way only family can. Many pet owner have experienced the loss of a pet and started to notice behavioral changes in the pet that is left behind.
When dogs lose their best friends they tend to become lethargic, lose their appetite or become very clingy towards their humans. They may cry and have an aloof air about them, sleep more than usual or lose interest in their favorite games.
These are outward signs that the dog is mourning his fellow pet's loss. However, dogs also tend to do this when they are ill, so be sure to take him to the vet as a first step if he is acting this way.
Dr. Tanya Kjeldsberg, DVM, of Peaceful Pet Departures, has some tips on helping your dog when he is in mourning after the loss of your other dog.
1. Patience and understanding
The first step is showing patience and understanding in your dog's behavior. Don't get angry quicker than usual if he slumps around all day or refuses to leave your side. Each dog has a different personality and your first idea won't necessarily appeal to them.
2. Reinforce positive behavior
It's human nature to want to console, soothe and comfort a sad being, but giving your dog too many cuddles and too much attention could be a bad thing – the pup could start using it to his advantage. If he doesn't want to eat, don't pet him and say it's okay – sit with him and firmly tell him to eat until you see it's impossible. They need to know that bad behavior is not suddenly allowed because they're in mourning. Take care not to inadvertedly reward their depression.
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3. Maintain a normal routine
This is very important for your pup's wellbeing. Meal times, walks and bathing or grooming should not stop or be changed – life should continue as per usual. That is the quickest way your dog will learn to overcome the distress and move on with his life. Even if he is going through a phase of not eating, store his meals in the fridge and give them to him again at his normal eating times.
4. Think twice before adding a new pet
While it seems obvious to adopt a new dog to take the old one's place, dogs aren't that simple of creatures. We don't want a new person in our life when a loved one dies just to replace them, and dogs are the same. Adding a new pet will result in confusion for your dog as you will likely give more attention to the new pet than to him. Most experts suggest waiting three months before considering another adoption, as a new addition to the family can be very emotionally draining for your surviving pup, especially in this time of transition.
We know that it's hard on you to lose a beloved pet, but bear in mind that it's even more traumatic for your surviving pups. They need you now more than ever, so help them instead of being overcome by your own grief. Families need to stick together in times of mourning.
Featured image: 3 million dogs