As pet owners we have all experienced the grief of losing a beloved pet. Have you ever considered that your other pets may also grieve the loss of a good friend? We treat them like humans with good food, love and care, chatting to them like our best friends.
If you have watched animal documentaries or tried to understand animal grief, you will see that animals have emotions as well. Animals do experience grief but do not understand these feelings on the same cognitive level as us humans do. They can show symptoms of depression and appear withdraw and listless. Often they will stop eating and some animals may even become aggressive.
Strong bonds between animals can be severed due to loss or illness and this is when a state of fear or panic is triggered resulting in some odd behaviour. Each animal will take its time in their grief and there is no specific time frame for recovery for each animal is unique. The stronger the bond and friendship between your pets, the longer the grief could last. Some pets may not even grieve and will life will go on as normal, whereas others can never get over the loss.
This is the time to be patient with your grieving pets and understand that they will not bounce back to normal in a hurry.
There are a few things you can do to assist your pet with a loss of a companion:
- TLC always works, although don’t go overboard, chatting soothingly and petting a little more often will help.
- Animals like routine, so stick to your normal routine even though your own heart may be breaking.
- Treats are a great mood booster, but keep in mind that treats can pack on the pounds. Finding low calorie treats is a better option.
- Walks and games can help improve their mood. Sticking to games and walks that has been part of their routine is best, now is not really the time to try and teach them new games.
- The last resort is an animal behaviourist or vet that can prescribe medicine or treatment programs to help you and your pet.
There are many different schools of thought when it comes to replacing your pet. Bringing in a new puppy or kitten may make the situation worse or it may bring new life into your other pets. This will have to be family decision as you know your animals best.
Personally I have had great experience with bringing in a new puppy after the loss of one of our pets. Our Labrador was in deep grief and showed very sudden signs of aging quickly. After waiting 3 months we introduced a new puppy to the mix. They became incredible friends and a new lust for life was given to BiBi our Lab. We knew our animals very well and spent a lot of time with them, so for us the decision was easy. Please take care when you make a decision like this as you can never predict what may happen. Don’t only take care when making this decision but also remember ADOPT DON’T SHOP.