We often get more than one pet to keep our four legged friends company. But what happens when one of them dies?The loss of a pet is devastating for the whole family, but the impact it has on the surviving dogs is frequently overlooked. After the death of a pet, it is very important to watch out for signs that your dog is distressed, so you can give them the comfort they need.
While it might seem strange and macabre to do this, bringing your dog to see the death of their friend might actually help. Dogs are very intuitive and seeing their friend pass away could make them realize what is happening, rather than leaving them to wander where their companion has disappeared to. It might also give comfort to your dying pet in their last moments to have a familiar friend with them.
Some signs of grief in canines are changes in their sleeping and eating patterns, lack of interest in activities they usually enjoy, searching for their lost friend and suddenly disliking being alone. If any of these are not normal behavior for your dog, they could be grieving. Paying attention to how they are acting can give some indication to how they are feeling.
It is especially important to make sure that your pet is eating enough, as lack of appetite is a common sign of distress.
This can be very helpful as you will be able to spot if your pet is behaving differently. It can also be reassuring for them in a time of change to have a consistent routine that they remember from before the death.
Although it's natural to want to comfort your pet when they're distressed, it is equally as important to make sure that you don't reward behavior like picky eating or howling, as they might connect attention with these actions. Continue to praise your dog when they're being good (this doesn't mean you have to stop giving them hugs) and give them just as much love as you did before.
Source: Elena Kniazeva
If you still have more than one dog after one dies, the surviving animals will want to establish a new social structure. Unless they are hurting each other, or posing a threat to other family members, a bit of growling, barking and 'challenging' is normal.
The most important thing to do is to give it time. Losing a family member is stressful for dogs not just because they have lost a friend, but because the humans in their family are upset too. Give it time and, in most cases, your four legged friend will be back to their old self.Similarly, if you are wanting to get another dog after your pet's death, it is recommended that you wait at least 3 months to allow your current pets to get used to the new normal. This makes it less likely that your already stressed pet will react badly to the new arrival, or be over-territorial.
If any of these behaviors last longer than you think is healthy, or become difficult to deal with, ask your veterinarian or a behavior specialist for advice.
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