DO PETS GRIEVE?
What many people find hard to believe is that animals can
form very firm attachments with each other. Even pets that outwardly seem to
barely get along will exhibit intense stress reactions when separated. In fact,
grieving pets can show many symptoms identical to those experienced by the
bereaved pet owner. The surviving pet(s) may become restless, anxious and
depressed. There may also be much sighing, along with sleep and eating
disturbances. Often, grieving pets will search for their dead companions and
crave more attention from their owners.
How can an owner help the
grieving pet? By following the following recommendations:
1. Keep the
surviving pet(s) routines as normal as possible.
2. Try not to
unintentionally reinforce the behavior changes.
- If the pet's appetite is
picky, don't keep changing the food. All that does is create a more finicky
- Don't overdo the attention given to the pet(s) as it can lead to
3. Allow the surviving animals to work out the new
dominance hierarchy themselves.
- There may be scuffles and fights as the
animals work out the new pecking order (dogs mostly)
4. Don't get a new
pet to help the grieving pet(s) unless the owner is ready.
- Will backfire
unless the owner is emotionally ready for a new pet.
- People still
grieving won't have the energy for it.
Should the owner let the
surviving animals see and smell their dead companion?
There is no evidence
that doing so will help the surviving pet(s), but some people claim that it
does. Usually, all it accomplishes is to make the owner feel better. Therefore,
if the owner wants to have the surviving pets "say good-bye," then it should be
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