Do Dogs Grieve? How Loss Affects Dogs and What You Can Do About It

A dog can fulfill the role of a companion for a lot of people, and believe it or not, they have been scientifically proven to help conditions like anxiety, depression, loneliness, and even problems like lack of motivation. Mourning a dog is a very real thing because of this reason since for some people, a dog is much more than just a pet.

 

They are what motivates them to finish their jobs so they can get home and reunite with someone that loves them for who they are, regardless of anything. They are what we can call family. 

But are dogs capable of feeling? Do they understand what death is? How do they react to loss? This article is meant to help people understand them more, let people know how loss can affect dogs, and what they can do as their owners to help them deal with the coping process. 

Do Dogs Feel? 

A dog is capable of feeling love, fear, anger, and many more emotions we humans can enjoy, and among them, grief and loss are one of them. 

Whether they’ve lost a human partner who was dear to them or lost a pet companion that was close to them on a daily basis, a dog can be affected by this loss in ways that can even affect their health, to the point of requiring assistance from us as the ones responsible of their wellbeing. 

When They Lose Someone Dear to Them 

It has been proven that dogs can mourn not only humans but members of their kind as well. In fact, there have been many occasions where a dog has mourned the loss of a friend member of another species, like cats, birds, and even rodents. 

However, they do not understand the concept of death the same way we do. Still, they are capable of understanding that someone’s missing, and once they start to notice this absence, they struggle to deal with it in similar ways to us. 

Depression 

The most common sign of grief in dogs is depression. Although depression in animals is not a long-term thing like it happens to us humans, they can still get depressed for quite some time, and this can affect them in many different ways, as mentioned in this article. 

Depression is well known for causing lots of symptoms and problems, while mourning is also capable of causing very similar situations, and we will cover some of them in the next few segments. 

Asocial Attitudes 

One of the main frequent attitudes found in mourning dogs is asocial attitudes. They start to act differently, they lack the motivation to do things they once enjoyed and prefer to be alone instead of being surrounded by humans or other animals. This might even lead to aggressive behavior for the sake of protecting their loneliness and safe space if they get pushed to act differently. 

When this happens, it is always better to try to get the dog to enjoy things they like the most and reward them when they do things you know are good for them, like exercising or playing around with a human companion or another animal. Exercises and fresh air are known remedies for this problem. 

If the dog gets aggressive, though, it is better to give him time to get used to the situation while you take your time to get them to feel better. 

Always try to reward them for positive behaviors or when they achieve something good and make sure not to reward them just because they are depressed, or if they behave badly since they will link these rewards with such actions. 

Lack of Appetite 

Another aspect of a dog that is in mourning is that it will stop eating the same amount of food it ate before, or it will directly stop eating for whole days. This can affect their weight and health in many different ways.

A good way to deal with this is to change their menu or find a type of food that they really like, for the sake of making them feel better and remain healthy. They will eventually recover their appetite, so as long as they eat from time to time, they will be fine. Make sure they get hydrated, though! 

Other Aspects to Consider 

Some dogs might also suffer physiological and mental changes due to stress or anxiety. The most common physiological changes you will notice when your canines grieve are weight loss, fur loss, vomiting, weird sleeping habits, and clingy, destructive, or aggressive behaviors. 

How to Help a Mourning Dog 

If a dog has lost one of its owners, the best thing to do is remain close to them and help them deal with the process while making sure their needs are covered. 

Depression in dogs tends to be a short-term thing, and they might go back to it from time to time. By being close to them, you will greatly reduce the amount of time they remain depressed, and things like exercising can help a lot. 

If a dog has lost an animal companion or their puppies, things can be a little bit more complicated. The best solution is to find a pet that can become their new companions. 

There have been many stories of dogs that have lost their puppies and they find relief in fostering puppies or even taking care of other animals. 

Still, it is always important to consider this option carefully. You should be able to provide for the new pet and take care of both, before deciding whether to adopt a new pet or not. 

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