I lost my beloved Pippa a couple of weeks ago and it has been incredibly hard. I miss her happy face, her extroverted personality and her ability to seem to know exactly what I was thinking. We were so in-tune with each other. I feel like I lost a big part of me.
She was my other dog Bailey’s big sister and the boss of the house. He is missing her terribly and I’ve been trying to find ways to comfort him. Do dogs grieve? Yes, they do. Losing their companion can be very difficult for them. And since Bailey is deaf, he not only relied on Pippa for play time and companionship, but she was his ears too. So he is doubly lost.
What can you do to help your pets through the grief process?
The one thing that I have always found to be important in the past is to let your remaining dog see the deceased dog. They understand death and seeing their companion’s body helps them know they will not be coming home. Unfortunately, that did not happen this time and poor Bailey looked for Pippa for a few days. So if you can offer them that closure, I highly recommend it.
Another sign a dog is grieving is their lack of interest in food. There are a lot of pack dynamics that go into mealtime, so when that is interrupted, that causes many dogs to not eat. I started off by getting Bailey back into an eating routine by hand feeding him for a few days. He loves chicken so I made chicken for him and hand fed him until he was full. Slowly, I started putting his food back into his bowl while sitting with him and within a week, he was eating on his own again.
Many dogs also show grief by sleeping more or by needing more affection. It is normal to sleep more and it’s ok. You can help them return to a more normal life by encouraging play or by making sure they get their favorite walk. Everyone, including the dog will feel better after a walk in the sunshine.
Another way to help them find their way is to try something new. If your dog is now alone, find a play group or think about agility training. Engage them with creative games or puzzles, anything that helps them refocus on a new challenge will help them emotionally. I have been able to bring Bailey to the radio station with me a couple of days a week and he gets a lot of attention and doesn’t have to be alone for most of the day. It helps him a lot.
Adjusting to the loss of a dog takes time, for you and for the remaining dogs at home. Self care is important for you, and if you can find ways to extend that to your dog, it will help you both. Show them more affection, more attention and be forgiving if they have an accident or misbehave. Everyone, including the dog needs a little grace and space during this time. It’s incredibly hard and nothing will help heal your heart quickly. But snuggling with your remaining dog and letting them know how much you care about them can help.
Article Written by Diane Hansell, Re-Published with permission by Pet Pantry in Harbor Springs