The Impact of Grief on Dogs

Is your dog struggling with the loss of a loved one?

sad dog

Understanding the Impact of Grief on Dogs

In this blog post we explore the profound impact that grief can have on dogs and how it affects their emotional well-being.

Dogs experience feelings, for instance they share the same understanding as a two and a half year old child. This includes fear, frustration, suspicion, stress, shyness, disgust, anger and over arousal as well as happiness, joy, affection, love, contentment and arousal.

We have a special relationship with our dogs, they are man’s best friend after all. An example would be if left for short periods of time dogs can become stressed, therefore if their guardian passes away dogs can show signs of grief.

What does this look like?

Pace from room to room looking for their companion

Stare out of the window or wait by the door for them to come home

Sit or lay by a favourite chair or place that may smell of their loved one

You may notice behaviours such as panting, barking, pacing, whining and fidgeting

They may have become restless, lethargic and not interested in activities they previously enjoyed

There may be a change in their sleep patterns, sleeping less or more

Loss of appetite

Weight loss

Drinking more or not at all

Changes in behaviour that are out of character for the dog, they may hide or avoid interaction or may become clingy and become anxious if you leave them

How can we help our dogs cope with their grief?

First of all if you are worried about your dogs behaviour, they are not eating or drinking please contact your vet for advice.

Provide a safe space for your dog so that they have somewhere to go if they are feeling overwhelmed

Be sensitive to your dog’s needs, if they want affection let them have your attention. This can help you to process your grief too.

Build your relationship with your dog, play games together, have extra walks and cuddles if your dog wants this. Massage is a wonderful gift for your dog promoting the release of feel good hormones, massage will benefit you both.

With time, patience, kindness and love you can support your dog through this emotional time. This is a process that you are going through together and can make your bond so much stronger.