Helping Dogs Cope with Grief: A Guide for Pet Owners


Dogs are known for their unwavering loyalty and the strong bonds they form with their human companions. When a loved one passes away, dogs can experience a profound sense of loss and grief.

The Signs of Mourning in Dogs

Just like humans, dogs can exhibit signs of mourning when faced with the disappearance of their favorite human. These signs may include:

  • Loss of appetite: The dog may lose interest in food or show a decreased appetite.
  • Lack of enthusiasm: A grieving dog may seem less interested in activities that used to bring them joy.
  • Fatigue: Dogs experiencing grief may appear tired and lack energy.
  • Sleep disorders: Some dogs may have trouble sleeping during this difficult period.
  • Incontinence: Stress caused by grief can sometimes lead to accidents in the house.
  • Excessive licking: A grieving dog may engage in compulsive behaviors like excessive licking.

Supporting Your Grieving Dog

To help your dog navigate through their grief, it’s important to provide them with love, attention, and a stable environment. Here’s how you can support your grieving pup:

  • Maintain their habits: Dogs thrive on routine and structure. Stick to their usual feeding, walking, and playtime schedules to create a sense of stability.
  • Vary the routes for walks: Take them to different places with new smells and sounds to provide mental stimulation and prevent monotony.
  • Show more love and attention: Your grieving dog may crave extra affection. Spend quality time cuddling, grooming, and playing with them to strengthen your bond.

The Healing Process

It’s important to note that every dog heals from grief at their own pace. While patience and understanding are essential, it’s also crucial not to be overly permissive. Here are some things to keep in mind during the healing process:

  • Time is a great healer: With time, most dogs will eventually recover from the loss of their owner and resume their usual demeanor.
  • Monitor their well-being: Keep an eye on your dog’s overall health and behavior. If you notice any concerning changes or persistent signs of distress, consult a veterinarian.
  • Seek professional help if needed: In severe cases where a dog’s grief persists or becomes overwhelming, consider consulting a professional animal behaviorist for guidance.

In conclusion, helping a grieving dog requires patience, love, and understanding. By providing stability, affection, and maintaining routines, pet owners can support their dogs through the challenging process of mourning. Remember, each dog copes with grief differently, so allow them the necessary time and space to heal.