Helping Your Pet with Grief
By Coleen Ellis, founder of the Two Hearts Pet Loss Center and writer for Pets Best, a pet insurance agency for dogs and cats.
It was another frantic phone call from a very caring pet parent, whose heart was breaking yet again after the loss of her beloved dog; she was now left with a deeply grieving sibling litter-mate. Still very upset about the death of her dog, this pet parent knew she had to find a way to help her surviving furry-family member cope through this difficult time.
Pets grieve in different ways based on the type of relationship they had with the deceased pet, who was a part of the family unit. In preparation for that sad day in your household, here are a few healthy coping tips for helping your other pets through their grief.
Most importantly, it is imperative that the surviving pet family members are allowed to see the deceased pet. The step of viewing and smelling the death of the pet will positively confirm what has happened so they aren’t constantly searching for their missing family member. If the surviving pets aren’t able to view the body, smelling a clipping of their fur or hair is an adequate substitute. Once this important step has happened, the surviving pets tend to begin their grieving process.
Other ways to help grieving pets:
- Let them know that you are grieving too
- Give them extra attention as they adjust to the new normal
- If there is more than one surviving animal in the house, there might have to be a shift in the structure of hierarchy to find the new alpha
- Let them sleep in the deceased pet’s bed to feel that comfort of their friend
Emotional feelings are very real for pets too. Allow them to go through the process and with these tips, help them along the way.