Just like humans, dogs also mourn the death of their close companions. Some dogs may show signs of physical sadness, while others may have a negative behavior, and some may even show no sign of emotional suffering at all.
Dr. Christopher Pachel, a Board Certified Veterinary Behaviorist, said that when an extremely socially bonded dog loses a close member of the family, whether it’s another animal companion or human, it could show some signs of depression.
Mourning dogs could have loss in appetite, lowered water intake, sluggish response to humans and other pets, a loss of interest in play or physical activity, and they may even howl sometimes. These symptoms may increase in weeks or even months.
If you notice these symptoms, it would be best to bring your pet to the vet immediately to check for any physical illness.
To help your dog in mourning, anthropologist and author Elizabeth Marshall Thomas said it is best for humans to show some patience and understanding to help them cope.
“It’s a natural human tendency to want to console, to comfort, to soothe, to nurture, yet it is possible to feed in to the negative emotional process,” Dr. Pachel said. “If the dog is reluctant to eat and then gets more attention for sitting by the bowl rather than eating that’s a great way to create a picky eater, at that point.”
The best way to help with the transition is to maintain a normal routine for your pets. You can also add more playtime to the routine to raise their serotonin levels, which can give them a positive energy.