Losing a loved one is never easy. Many people overcome their grief with the help of a strong support system and by surrounding themselves with the people who care the most.
For your pet, it is no different.
When pets suffer a significant loss, it can affect their daily lives, and they each have their own ways of dealing with the loss of a loved one. Whether it is someone they were close to or another pet in the home, animals have a strong sense of companionship and losing a part of that can be very traumatic for them. Here are some ways to help pets deal with a loss while leading them to the steps necessary to overcome grief.
SignsYour Pet is Grieving
Every human grieves differently. Some people may withdraw and spend a lot of time by themselves while others may become angry or find ways to distract themselves. This is true for your pets as well. It is important to know that not every animal is the same and that aspects of grieving vary.
According to the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, animals can easily sense a change in their environment, which can lead to behavioral changes – telling signs that your pet is suffering. These signs can include changes in appetite, vocalization and mood. Your pet might also begin playing with their deceased companion’s toys or sleeping where they used to sleep.
Nobody knows your pet better than you, and any change in behavior can be a warning sign. The most important thing to do is to let your pet know you are there for him or her at all times. If symptoms persist for longer than usual (from a couple of days to more than one week), it is recommended that you take your pet to the veterinarian for an examination.
How to Help Your Pet Grieve
Like people, pets heal with the support of their loved ones. Being there for your pet during trying times is one of the best things you can do as your pet tries to make sense of the changing environment.
Veterinarians recommend that your pet maintains a routine. For example, keep feeding and playing times consistent. Setting aside time to be together also allows your pet to have the companionship he or she may crave.
Some people entertain the idea of introducing another pet into the household. According to professionals, there is no right or wrong time to introduce a new pet, but it is important to make sure there is some consistency and routine in your pet’s daily life.
Finally, according to animal behaviorists, the most important thing to help your pet grieve is patience. Grief is a very complicated process and unique to each individual. Showing patience and allowing your pet to grieve in his or her own way is a crucial part of the process. It is important, however, to try not to reinforce unwanted behaviors. It may be difficult, as you’ll want to console your distraught pet, but it is important not to reward unwanted behaviors. Instead, try to reinforce healthy behaviors, such as exercise and play, to distract your pet.
As you and your pet go through trying times, it is important to remember that being there for each other is one of the most rewarding aspects of the process. Losing a loved one is never easy, but with time and support, both of you can come out stronger than before.