Pets often grieve the loss of their “siblings,” their humans, and their homes in a similar way that humans would grieve such a loss. You may see your pet being more withdrawn, acting depressed or hiding more. Sometimes, particularly with the loss of their human, your pet may decide to stick to you like glue, afraid that you may disappear as well.
While many animals don’t like change in general, they can transition to their “new normal” with unconditional love and support from you. Below are some helpful suggestions to help your pet through their grieving process.
~Watch her/his actions closely.
If your pet is avoiding places that may smell like the sibling or person they are grieving for, clean those places, or remove any items that may keep them feeling the loss. On the other hand, if he/she seems to be seeking comfort in those places, there is no hurry to clean up those items.
~Keep her/his routine the same as usual.
Too many changes in the household on top of the grief can cause stress, fear and even illness to your already anxious, grieving pet.
~Spend quality time with your pet.
Sit by him/her, talk in soothing tones, pet or brush your them, and reassure them that you are not going anywhere and neither are they. Offer treats, toys and other distractions to help them come out of mourning quicker.
~Try calming remedies.
Adding herbal calming remedies (approved by your veterinarian) to your pets diet may help ease their feelings of sorrow and loss.
~Check your emotions.
Pets can be very sensitive creatures and pick up on our emotions. If you are also grieving deeply, they are likely to grieve the loss harder.
~Seek veterinary help.
If your grieving pet seems to be stuck in grief for a long time, and/or is acting sick or refusing to eat, take him/her to your vet at once to prevent serious consequences. Your vet can also prescribe medications to ease your pet’s feelings of sadness.
The most important thing you can do to help your grieving pet is to simply shower them with the love and affection you always have.
*Adapted from: Behavior, Catster Magazine, 2018