A grieving pet - how to help your pet overcome losing a loved one

A grieving pet - how to help your pet overcome losing a loved one

By: Hermita
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A grieving pet - how to help your pet overcome losing a loved one

Pets are amazing creatures that make our overall lives better. Yet, they can feel every emotion inside us and also have love for the owner and family members.
I saw that not many blog posts are written related to this topic online, so I decided to give it a try and create an article about helping your grieving pet after losing a loved one.

Despite the fact that pets, especially dogs, have the same feelings of grief when they lose a member of their (our) family, one thing is very different - your beloved pet cannot talk in a way you can and cannot think about everything that has happened rationally. Our pets, especially dogs, may not understand why a member of the family is gone, but they will sure feel very sad, anxious, and lost.
Therefore, it is our mission to recognize pet’s emotions and to provide them comfort, when needed. 

How to know if your pet/dog is in the grieving process? Usually, they will grieve from 2 to 4 months, and there will be visible both physical and behavioral changes. Some pets may show multiple signs of grieving, while others may show none. That’s why it is important to understand their grieving process and to help them. I am sure that you love your pet very much and don’t want them to suffer - you want them to understand what happened. 

If your beloved pet is very bonded with the person you have lost, they will show a lot of changes in social situations, especially outside of the house.
A lot of cats and dogs may try to get as much attention as possible from you and other members of the family.
Pet owners claim that their pets became more needy after the tragedy in the family.
Yet, there is no universal pattern of their changed behavior. Some pets and dogs may experience withdrawal and try to stay away from everyone, being aggressive and anxious.

What else is noticed is that they will display territorial changes. For example, a grieving pet will try to spend as much time in those places where a family member you’ve lost has spent a lot of time. They will enjoy carrying their possessions all around the house. You can easily understand that the pet is bonded to the smell of the person your family has lost.

*Some dogs may become aggressive towards their owner. If you experience this, be sure that you talk with your vet.

Another interesting change people saw in their grieving pets is increased vocalization.
Pet professionals claim that whatever unwanted behavior your pet shows, you shouldn’t encourage it because that way it may last longer.
If there is any unwanted behavior coming from your pet in the grieving process, you shouldn’t feed it with more attention, no matter how hard that is for you.

There will also be changes in their sleeping pattern. While some pets will sleep way more than usual, others will start sleeping less. The same goes for food - a grieving pet will eat more or less food than usual but may experience stress diarrhea too.

How to help your dog or cat in the grieving process? What is the advice you should follow?
It is recommended and comforting to provide them with an item of the person you have lost together. They want to feel like living in a safe place, understanding what has happened.
Your pet will, with time, understand and feel your emotions.

If your pet has withdrawn, try to encourage them to have more fun and play. This will also help you in your grieving process. It is always advisable to try to follow the daily routine so you don’t get lost in the pain and suffering.

We all know that grief is a natural response and should never be hurried but for the pets, it is definitely not advisable that you encourage them to grieve more because that can make your favorite animal physically sick.  

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