How to Help a Grieving Pet
Anyone who has ever lost a pet knows the deep grief and sorrow that comes with it. What we often fail to realize is that it’s not just humans who feel the pain of losing a furry family member. Fellow companion animals can also experience symptoms of grief that are remarkably similar to those experienced by people.
For instance, surviving pets often exhibit emotions and behaviors such as restlessness, anxiety and depression. They may also temporarily lose interest in food or other activities that they normally enjoyed. If you recently lost a pet, here’s what you can do to help other animals within the household work through the process of grief and healing.
Stick to the routine.
One of the most important things you can do to help a grieving pet is to stick with normal daily scheduled activities as much as possible. Just like humans, animals need a sense of normalcy and routine. Remember – their life has already been disrupted. As difficult as it may be, try to keep things like feeding time and daily exercise as normal as possible.
Don’t force things.
Losing a loved one is never easy, and it can make daily activities like eating and getting proper sleep difficult. The same can happen to a companion animal, so be patient and understanding. If your furry friend doesn’t seem interested in his or her food, don’t try to force things or start changing things up. Also, try not to overdo it on the extra attention you’re giving to the surviving pet. This could lead to other issues, such as separation anxiety, once things start to return to normal.
Allow the pieces to settle.
If there are multiple surviving pets, the loss of one may cause a shift in their dominance hierarchy. This is a natural thing that animals go through. Don’t be surprised or dismayed if you notice your four-legged family members suddenly being more temperamental with each other. Keep a close eye, of course, but allow them space to work things out on their own.
Don’t rush into getting a new pet.
Even if you happen to feel ready to adopt a new pet, your surviving pet(s) may not be there yet. Introducing a new animal into the mix too early could lead to further problems with anxiety and make it difficult for everyone to adjust and bond. If your existing furry family member is still exhibiting signs of grief and loss, be patient. There will always be time for a fresh start when everyone in the home is ready.
Animals are deeply emotional creatures and are capable of forming strong, loving and lasting relationships with other animals. When those relationships are severed, it’s an upsetting experience for everyone – including other household pets. Following the four tips above should help your pet work through his or her grief and arrive at a place of healing.
And if you find that you’re still struggling with the loss of a beloved pet, a remembrance piece can help ease the burden and provide a way to keep your loved one’s memory close to your heart.