Grieving Process of Dogs

Work at keeping your dog on a normal schedule to create a sense of routine.
Work at keeping your dog on a normal schedule to create a sense of routine. (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Whether it's a move away from the familiar or the loss of a human or fellow pet companion, your dog is capable of deep feelings of loss. He can also sense the feelings of those around him, deepening his own grief. Once you rule out any serious health problems with your dog's veterinarian, you can help your beloved pet move past his grief into emotional healing.


Your dog may experience a change in appetite. He may shun favorite foods, pick at his meals or stop eating altogether. He may even stop drinking enough water to keep him properly hydrated. You should keep a regular feeding and play schedule to remind him of the family's routine and help him get over the hump. Make his food more attractive by warming it or giving him a special treat. But avoid giving him constant attention over eating or the bad habits will stick around.


Your dog may begin to bark, howl or "talk" as an expression of grief. Vocalizations are normal. However, it can become a bad habit if you give him excessive attention -- even negative attention -- when he makes noise. Avoid doing so if you don't want the extra noise to become a bad habit.


A change in sleeping habits is normal and is not a major concern while your dog deals with his grief. He may choose to sleep in a different spot or room, suffer insomnia, moan in his sleep or become clingy at bedtime and want to sleep with you. This may last for several weeks to a month. Giving your pet a favorite or special stuffed animal at bedtime may help provide some comfort.


Your dog's moping can turn into a chronic and serious condition. In addition to the changes in eating and sleeping habits, he may stop everything he enjoyed prior to his loss. If he refuses to play, hides from the family or becomes suddenly ill-tempered, talk to your veterinarian. Some dogs may require anti-anxiety medication to resume their normal activities.

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