Coping with the death of a beloved pet is very difficult for all of us, requiring lengthy sessions of grieving, feelings of emptiness and not just a few tears. But we often forget that the struggle is also difficult for a surviving pet who has lost a companion. Even if your pets did not seem incredibly close, they undoubtedly formed a stronger bond than was visibly obvious. Very likely you can see signs of grieving and sadness in your pet's behavior. We owe our pets all the support and love we can offer in their time of need; haven't they been there to support and love us?
- Show the dead pet's body to your surviving pet, when possible. Allowing your surviving pet this opportunity can ease her potential anxiety and make the mourning period smoother.
- How can you tell if your pet is grieving?
- You may notice a loss of appetite and enthusiasm for food and water.
- Some pets may wander the house restlessly.
- Grieving pets may exhibit a lack of energy and spend more time alone.
- Often pet owners notice increased vocalizations that often sound desperate or mournful, as in a whine or a howl.
- Shower your grieving with loving attention. Now more than ever, he needs to feel loved by you. This is the most important step you can take to help your grieving pet cope with another pet's death. Spend more time with your pet. If the furry friend is on his own, sit down with him and pet him, or bring him to where you were and encourage him to stay.
- Pets read and often adopt your mood. It's true - when you are sad, your pet knows it and your sadness might affect her mood. This is not to suggest that you try to circumvent your own natural grieving process. Grieving is a part of healing, after all. But when you talk to your surviving pet, be as cheerful and buoyant as possible. You are so central to your pet's life that this gesture alone can bring comfort to your pet's heart.
- Should you alter your pet's routine? You might feel a temptation to do so, especially if your pet is eating less and seems sadly unenergetic. But try not to shake up your routine too drastically at this time, because the normal routine already isn't what it used to be. You should still offer food and water at the same times, and in the same place as before. You should also still make yourself available to your pet at roughly the same times that have become customary to your pet.
However, there are some helpful ways to alter your pet's routine. Think about the activities that your pet has traditionally enjoyed greatly - perhaps going for walks, or playing with a mouse toy - and make an effort to entertain your pet with these activities on a daily basis. If they already were part of your pet's daily routine, then provide your companion with a little more of these activities. A pet recovers in similar ways as a person, after all; when stress is weighing heavily on our minds, don't we sometimes find relief in jogging, yard work or maybe even video games?
- Should you get another pet to replace the other one? For some of the same reasons articulated before, this is most likely not the best way to comfort your grieving pet after the loss of another pet. Remember the rule about routine in this emotionally turbulent time. Introducing a new companion at this point could leave your old pet utterly confused and rattled.
But beyond that, the decision to welcome a new pet is one to be made in the kind of sober, clear-headed state that's probably not possible immediately following the death of a pet. It wouldn't be fair for the new pet to be treated as a replacement, and could lead to heartache on your part when it becomes clear that there is no replacing a departed pet. Pets both new and old will detect that disappointment and not know how to make sense of it.
The best medicine for your pet's recovery is your loving attention. Provide love, stability and recreation for your pet as she naturally grieves for her lost companion, and you will discover that, just as naturally, she will emerge from that grieving happily by your side.