How to help your grieving dog.

Losing a dog is never easy. They bring such joy to your family and when they are gone, it feels quite empty. That is what we’ve been going through at my house, grieving our dog Baxter. As hard as it is for humans, we can at least understand what is going on. But my other dog Pippa, has had a really difficult time. Dogs do grieve the loss of their companions. They miss them just like we do.

It was really hard the first few days to watch her and harder to try and make it all better. She wouldn’t eat, just wanted to sleep and didn’t want me to leave her alone. I tried a number of different things with her and she finally started to respond in a more normal way.

So what do you do when you have more than one pet and it’s time to say good bye?

The first thing is to make sure the remaining pets know what is happening. My vet has always suggested that the remaining pets are there for the euthanasia. I put Pippa in her crate (my vet is so compassionate and came to our home) while she was doing the actual procedure. But when Baxter was gone, we allowed her to see him and smell him. She knew what had happened and she never looked for him again.

She was incredibly sad. And that is where I had to just try different things. She wouldn’t eat so I made her chicken and hand fed it to her for a few days. Slowly, I started adding it back into her bowl with her regular food. And now two weeks later, she’s eating normally again.

Sleeping is something we all do when we’re not feeling well. She wanted to sleep all of the time. So I made sure we did things that excited her. She has dog friends and a few play dates really helped change her mood. Her best boyfriend even came to our house for a slumber party. I tried to engage her with a couple of new toys, but that was not very successful. Being with other dogs has been the most helpful.

Exercise is also a great mood builder. When the weather has been warm enough, walks with distractions (people and dogs) has helped perk her up.

And the one thing that has helped the most has been taking her to work. Two or three days a week, she has come to the radio station with me. We have a really small staff and fortunately, everyone likes dogs. So she’s run up and down the steps, greeted everyone a few times a day, gone to lunch and took naps on my desk. It’s been a really fun change for her. And except for her after lunch gas, I think everyone has enjoyed having her too.

The AKC says these are very common symptoms in a dog that is missing their animal friend:

Withdrawal from people and other pets.

A lack of appetite.

Lethargic behavior and sleeping more than usual.

Unusually aggressive or destructive behaviors.

Inappropriate elimination within the home.

Calling out or vocalizing in an unusual way for the dog who has passed away.

Searching for the companion dog within the home and other places frequented by the other dog.

Becoming very clingy to the owner and following the owner around.

Their advice for helping your pet? Basically what I tried. Entice them to eat with something you know they like, exercise and play time, more attention and if you feel it’s the right time, introduce them to a new furry friend. Maybe even a new dog or cat in your home.

I know that will happen in our home soon. I’ve always had two dogs and it feels too quiet with just one. We’re working on a rescue Boston Terrier right now and fingers crossed, in the next few weeks, we might have a new fur kid in our house. But until then, Pippa’s number one. And we’re getting more snuggle time than ever. And there’s nothing bad about that.


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