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Do Pets Grieve?


The answer is yes, our pets grieve. They too have lost their best friend. We as humans have the capacity to understand the loss and grief we are experiencing. Unfortunately, we cannot sit down with our pets and have a compassionate conversation explaining why their friend is gone and not returning.

I have witnessed this phenomenon within several other families who own multiple pet family members. So yes, in short our pets do grieve, some more and/or differently than others. When a pack structure is abruptly changed, animals respond. Give your pet much deserved time, attention, structure, cuddling and kisses. However, be careful to not enable their grief. They will require a sense of security in their new reality. Of course, if your remaining pet(s) appear to be seriously suffering (lack of appetite, anxiety, lethargy etc) it is always wise to consult with your vet when in doubt.

Some years ago, I had two dogs. I clearly remember the heartbreak and confusion of my younger dog when my older dog passed away. My remaining dog appeared uninterested in anything or anyone and my heart was so burdened for her; I would have done anything to take away her pain and pile it upon the pain I was already feeling with my own grief. The best thing I could do for her was love her, dote on her, give her extra time and attention. After three weeks she became more receptive to me, to her food and started to enjoy her walks again, but the silly carefree dog she was when her sister was in her world never completely returned. It felt like a part of her heart went with her sister.


Let me add an aside, while we watch our pets grieve and instinctively want to take care of them, we unwarily push aside our grief, be careful. The extra time, attention, cuddling and kisses are for both of you. Grieve and heal together.

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