How to help a grieving dog

Recently one of my client's dogs passed away, leaving his remaining 11-month-old puppy lonely and distraught. He stopped eating, he was "mopy" and he wasn't himself. Since 8 weeks old, Charlie was used to having another dog in the house and now his world was upside down.

Dogs can get anxious or depressed for a variety of reasons:

  • Death of a dog
  • Their favorite person leaves for college or moves out of the house
  • Divorce
  • Change in schedule (could also be separation anxiety)

While time is the best cure for these types of situations, there are a few things that you can try to help your dog bounce back a bit faster.

  • Change the routine. Change feeding times, take him to different neighborhoods for walks. Sign up for a dog training class. Move the food bowl to a different location. Anything to mix up the routine can be helpful. The same routine minus the dog or person that is causing grief will be more noticeable.
  • Increase training and exercise. A more active, tired dog will be less bored and will have less time to mope around.
  • Get him around dogs. You might worry that taking him near dogs will cause him to miss his old pal, but in my experience I have found that other dogs can fill the void of a lost friend.
  • Give him time. Time does heal emotional wounds.
  • Give yourself time. Don't forget about yourself as well. This is a tough time and you need time to heal. Don't feel bad for feeling bad.

Dogs often will eat less or skip meals entirely. Talk to your vet if you are concerned, but generally speaking dogs do not have to eat all their meals each week to remain healthy. If he skips complete days multiple times a few weeks in a row, that is an area of concern, but skipping a meal or a day or two of eating is nothing serious. Make sure he is drinking, and he is not losing a lot of weight.



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