Dog Grieving Loss Of Owner Or Other Pets?
The death of one’s pet may cause a great deal of grief among humans, but it is not unusual for animals to experience similar feelings. Some animals will mourn their lost companion for months or even years after the death. Others are quick to adapt to life without their beloved companionship, while still others never recover from losing someone they love so much.
Some dogs have been known to display signs of grief when their owners die. These dogs may cry out, whine, shake and otherwise show distress. They may also exhibit other behaviors such as pacing back and forth or staring at nothing in particular.
If your dog displays any of these symptoms, then he or she is probably experiencing some form of grief following the death of its owner.
When a dog experiences grief following the death of its owner, it is called “dog grief.” A dog grieving loss of another animal is referred to as “puppy grief” or sometimes just “grief.” Puppies often display many of the same signs and behaviors that adult dogs do.
However, puppies don’t typically reach maturity until around six months old, which means they aren’t emotionally mature enough to fully understand what has happened to them yet.
Dogs that have lost their owners or puppies that have lost either their mothers or siblings may cry out, whine, bark and otherwise howl for an extended period of time following the death. It is common for dogs to grieve over the loss of a mother dog for several days after her death. Some dogs may even become depressed and refuse to eat.
Most dogs eventually move past their grief and get back to normal if they are allowed to properly grieve in the first place. It’s important for owners to allow their dogs this time to mourn. It can be tempting to try and force a dog to get over its grief by not allowing it inside or by trying to keep yourself busy, but this will only cause your dog to become withdrawn and unhappy.
The opposite is also true; too much attention and sympathy can be just as detrimental. Some owners may find it in their hearts to want to fill the void left by the loss of a beloved pet. While this is certainly a kind and generous gesture, it may cause your dog to become ‘attached’ to you or constantly rely on you for affection and companionship.
This will only make things harder for both of you in the long run because there is no way you will be able to fill the void left by the original pet.
Sources & references used in this article:
- Pathological mourning after the death of a domestic pet (KMG Keddie – The British Journal of Psychiatry, 1977 – pdfs.semanticscholar.org)
- Pet grief: when is non-human life grievable? (D Redmalm – The Sociological Review, 2015 – journals.sagepub.com)
- Grieving in silence: The loss of companion animals in modern society (PC Morales – Journal of Personal & Interpersonal Loss, 1997 – Taylor & Francis)
- Pet humanisation and related grief: Development and validation of a structured questionnaire instrument to evaluate grief in people who have lost a companion dog (…, S Coren, G Da Graça Pereira, A Haverbeke… – Animals, 2019 – mdpi.com)