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When your pet is mourning the loss of a housemate

When your pet is mourning the loss of a housemate

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When your pet mourns the loss of an animal housemate

We don’t know how much cats and dogs understand about death, but many pet owners have experienced a pet who has become inappetant, lethargic or otherwise unwell after their animal companion dies. It is heartbreaking to see, especially when you are also grieving the loss of your animal.


We invite you to read some of our tips to assist your pet in coping with the loss of a housemate:

• Dogs, in particular, need to adjust themselves within ‘the pack’ after the loss of a housemate – particularly if the remaining dog has lost its ‘canine leader’. You can help lessen the resulting anxiety by becoming involved in training your dog, encouraging clear communication that you are now the ‘only leader’ your dog needs.

 • Positive training focuses on rewarding the appropriate response to a command or request, while ignoring the incorrect or wrong behaviour. Consistent positive reinforcement of the correct behaviour will ensure the dog knows how to behave, and to gain happiness from pleasing ‘its leader’.

 • Increase the frequency of outings with your dog, to deepen their bond with you and add interest to their life. The outing does not need to be extensive – for example, a walk to the letterbox, next door to chat to the neighbors or simply a ride in the car may suffice.

 • Develop a daily routine for your dog. You may choose to add a daily grooming session, or teach your dog a simple trick as part of the routine. Toy play can also be part of the daily routine.

 • Make your dog ‘work’ for some of its daily calorie allowance. For example, utilize treat balls or food-dispensing toys, hide food in the yard for your dog to find, or ask your dog to perform tricks for food rewards.


When should I get another dog?

Most importantly – YOU AND THE FAMILY must be ready for another dog before you obtain one. Many dogs live happy lives with only humans forming ‘their pack’, and once the initial grief has passed they may actually be happier being the only canine companion. If you think your dog needs a ‘companion’ before the family is ready to obtain a new dog, it is best to find a “friend with a dog” who is happy to join you on ‘play dates’.

BEFORE you get another dog, make sure you have worked through any behavioural problems that your dog has, so that he/she is not a bad influence on their new companion!



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