How to Help Dogs Overcome the Trauma of a Family Death
Our dogs are loving, compassionate, friendly and fun creatures. They have their own personalities, and they also have a range of emotions. Our dogs are just as attached to us as we are to them, possibly even more so, because they depend on us to meet their basic needs.
Just as we are devastated when a beloved pet dies, the reverse is also true. If a dog experiences the loss of its owner or other close family member, he is likely to feel grief and sadness. This can be heartbreaking to witness. If your dog or a dog you know has experienced the trauma of a family death, there are some ways you can help them cope and get through their pain.
Signs of Grief
If your dog is experiencing grief, there will likely be some noticeable signs. For example, your dog may actually seem depressed. He may be withdrawn, lethargic, or uninterested in activities he previously enjoyed. He may also experience a loss of appetite. Don’t ignore these signs – begin helping your dog overcome the trauma immediately.
It is important to offer your grieving dog comfort. You are also likely to be experiencing a lot of grief due to the passing of your loved one, so comfort will be beneficial to both of you. You can lean on each other. Be affectionate with your dog, and give him some extra special attention. Pet him more, and speak lovingly and kindly to him. Hold him in your lap, and do your best to physically express you care for him. This will lift both of your spirits. However, if your dog doesn’t seem to be responding well, he may also just want to spend some time alone, so grant him his space when he needs it.
A routine is important for anyone who is grieving, because we often feel like our lives have been turned upside down, and we are looking for something to hold onto and depend on. A routine gives us a sense of reassurance. Try not to alter your dog’s routine much. Keep it as close to what it previously was as possible. This is especially important if a dog is relocated to a new home due to the death of his owner. You will want to give the grieving dog stability in a new routine.
Try to do things that will bring some happiness and joy into the life of your grieving dog. If he loves to go for walks or run around outside, give him more opportunities to do so and in new environments. Perhaps give him a new special toy to help occupy him, or allow him some of his favorite treats a little more often. These unexpected delights will help improve the mood of your dog.
If your dog is experiencing severe grief and you feel he may be very depressed, speak with your veterinarian about possible solutions. If you’re open to it, there are herbal remedies that may help reduce anxiety and allow your dog to feel better. You can also look into therapeutic dog massage. Massages help relieve tension, and they will do the same for a stressed out dog.
Susan Wright DVM is an experienced Vet who writes for DogFenceDiy the most reliable source for invisible fence alternatives.
It can be a difficult subject to think or talk about, but if you have recently gone through experienced this type of situation PetSci and the PetSci community are here to talk. Feel free to leave a comment or get in touch with us.