Grieving Pets

By: Matthew Funeral Home
Monday, June 10, 2024

When a loved one passes, every member of the family is affected, even your pets. Dogs, cats, and other family pets can experience grief and can even mourn for a loved one. Below, we will discuss grief in pets, and how you can help your beloved family companions. 

Grief and a Missing Loved One

Pets know when loved ones aren’t home, and they are often more intuitive than we assume. While it may take them longer to understand the loss of a loved one, pets can understand when a loss extends beyond a day at work or a weekend getaway. Moreover, many pets can become attuned to their family’s emotional well-being. Dogs especially are deeply empathetic creatures. If they sense deep sorrow in the members of the household, they may act in kind.

Signs of Grief in Pets

Pets show grief in a variety of ways, many similar to human grief responses. Pets can experience appetite changes, lethargy, and changes in their sleep patterns as a result of grief. They may also become more vocal. In many cases, your pet may undergo “search behavior,” running around the house looking for signs of their lost loved one. Some pets will become more clingy, requiring more comfort from the rest of the family. This clinginess is often symbiotic to your own grief, as spending time holding a pet can be cathartic to your own pain from loss. 

Supporting a Grieving Pet

Not surprisingly, many of the ways to help your pet deal with grief can also be beneficial to grieving humans. First, try to maintain a routine. A consistent feeding, walking, playtime, and sleep schedule with your pet can help get them used to changes in the home. Taking your dog for a walk can also be beneficial. Getting outside and being active is a great way to boost mood. Give your pets some extra attention. Cuddles, playtime, treats, car rides, and other fun activities for them will make you both feel better. 

Monitoring Your Pet’s Health

If your pet’s mood worsens or doesn’t improve, you may want to consider consulting a vet. In some cases, your pet’s physical health may worsen as a result of appetite and sleep pattern changes. Many pets can suffer from depression as a result of a loss. Your vet may be able to provide you with ways to help improve your pet’s mood and quality of life after the loss of a loved one. 

The author of this post is not a professional therapist or counselor. For more personalized grief care, find a grief counselor that is right for you. For our Grief Resource Center, written by Dr. Bill Webster, click here
For over 50 years, Matthew Funeral Home has been serving the Staten Island community. We can help with almost every aspect of your loved one’s memorial service. Our family is here to serve yours, every step of the way.

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