Do Pets Experience Grief?
Pets are a lot like and us and they do feel grief when they suffer the loss of another pet in the family or a human. Don’t be alarmed if your pet is acting differently after such a loss. You might not realize at first that your pet is grieving. A study published in the journal “animals” found that pets exhibit specific behaviors when they are grieving and that some mimic the 5 stages of grief humans’ experience.
Our experience shows that it helps if your remaining pet has a chance to say good-bye to their furry friend. If your pet has passed away at home, give the remaining pets a chance to sniff the body. If your pet is euthanized at a clinic, bring back a blanket or soaker pad your pet has been laying on. Let your pets sniff the blanket or pad….somehow they know the other pet has passed away and takes away some of the anxiety.
The most common change is that they become more affectionate, even clingy towards the owner. We noticed a big change when one of our cat’s passed away. The remaining cat become more vocal (just like the other one used to be) and demanding more attention. Give them the attention without forcing anything. They might also search the house for the pet that didn’t come back from a visit to the Veterinary Clinic.
We all know that the bond between a pet and their owners is strong and humans sometimes feel the loss of the pet more profoundly than the loss of a human loved one. For pets the feeling is mutual and it is not uncommon for both humans and pets to lose their appetites while they are grieving. Also, just like us, pets tend to sleep more after suffering the loss of a human or animal friend.
If your pet has recently suffered a loss you might not know how to comfort him/her. Pets need time to work through their grief , but there are some things you can do to make your fur baby more comfortable while going through the grieving process. Some pets might react to a voice recording of the human family member they lost . Other pets might want to sleep with a sweater or blanket of the person.
If you are not sure what is going on have your fur baby checked by the vet and if there are no physical reasons for the behavior, it will take time and patience to help them through their grief.