How to Help Dogs Grieve the Loss of an Owner


After this photo of Sadie, a 13-year-old Border collie/Dalmation/shepherd mix, went viral for her heart-breaking moment of grieving over her deceased owner’s casket, we wondered—how can we help our beloved animals through their grieving process?

COURTESY ELEMENTS CREMATION, PRE-PLANNING & BURIAL

We located an article by Dr. Karen Becker, a proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian, "10 Tips for Helping Your Surviving Pet Deal with a Loss"

  1. Closely monitor your surviving pet.

The process of grieving isn’t well understood in either humans or companion animals, so it’s best to pay special attention to your surviving pet for signs of a distress reaction. Knowing what to expect, and how to react, can be very helpful during a time when everyone in the family is feeling a deep sense of loss.

  1. Keep daily routines as consistent as possible.

Pets do best when they know what to expect from one day to the next (this is true for all pets, not just those who are grieving the loss of a buddy). Try to keep mealtimes, exercise, walks, playtime, grooming, bedtime, and other daily activities on a consistent schedule.

  1. Keep your pet’s diet and mealtimes the same.

Your pet may not have much of an appetite in the days following the death of a housemate, but continue to offer him the same food he’s used to, at the same time each day. Store what he doesn’t eat in the fridge, and offer it to him again at his next regularly scheduled mealtime. Use his hunger to help him get his appetite back by resisting the urge to entice him with treats.

If his appetite doesn’t pick up after several days or he’s refusing to eat anything at all, make an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out a health problem. Cats, in particular, should not go without eating for more than a couple of days or they risk developing a potentially fatal condition called hepatic lipidosis.

Read the entire list of tips from Dr. Becker here