Your Pet’s Grief

Dear Pet Caregiver/Owner,

Your beloved pet has died. We are so very sorry for your loss. Pet caregivers/owners often feel the loss of their companion animals very intensely. It was our privilege to support you during your pet’s final days, and we are committed to continuing support through the bereavement process. Over the coming weeks and months, we will be sending you a series of emails designed to be a resource for you on your journey.

When Your Pet Grieves The Loss Of Another Pet

If you have other pets in your family, it is important to recognize that their life can also change drastically as a result of the loss. We don’t know exactly how animals understand death, but it is likely that surviving pets feel the loss in ways similar to humans. Many pet lovers have had a pet became lethargic, upset, or even ill after a companion pet has died.

How will my other pets respond to the loss of their friend

Your other pet(s) will very likely have a time of “mourning” when they lose their friend. Depending on how close the pets were, there may be a time of adjustment for the remaining pet(s). Watch for behaviors that may indicate that a surviving pet is grieving:

  • Searching for the missing animal, wandering aimlessly
  • Taking over or avoiding the places and routines of the deceased pet
  • Unusual vocalizations, sighing or an unsual silence
  • Anxiety: clinginess, unsual frightfulness, or aggression, restlessness
  • Depression: lethargy, decreased appetite, decreased play, decreased or excessive social interactions with humans and other animals, excessive sleep
  • Beware! Any of the behaviors listed above could also be a symptom of illness

How Can I Help My Grieving Pets?

When pets grieve, they need support and compassion, much like humans do. There are several things that you can do to help your pets through this difficult time:

  • Spend additional time with them
  • Encourage activity by engaging in play, going for walks and other favorite activites
  • Allow them to cuddle, sit or sleep with you
  • Allow them to work out a new social hierarchy in the new reality after the loss
  • Maintain normalcy, keep things as predictable and consistent as possible
  • Consult your veterinarian frequently to determine if a visit is necessary to rule out health issues
  • Avoid the kind of attention that may reward acting depressed or inattentive. Instead, encourage activity by playing with toys, going for walks, etc.

When a pet is lost, the family dynamics change and everyone has to adjust to a new reality. With time and your support, surviving pets can find a new balance and happiness even after a very painful loss. Our is committed to offering our support as you and your surviving pets are going through this process. If you should have any questions, concerns, or would like additional support…please contact Laurie Norris, Grief Support Counselor at (248)701-5799 or

The Team at Compassionate Veterinary Hospice