Losing a beloved pet is an experience no one wishes to endure. Most pet owners anticipate an eventual loss when they bring home a new pet, but facing the actual event is never easy. And, as difficult as this process is for us, did you ever consider how your other pets would handle this transition? This is an important, but often overlooked topic, and pet owners need to consider ways to support their other furry family members after this unfortunate situation. Let Best Friends Veterinary Care tell you how.
Provide endless comfort to your other pets
Being a soothing presence for your pets may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s essential as they mourn the loss of their friend. Knowing you are there and ready to comfort them can help them feel safe and secure as they process the event. This doesn’t mean you should quit your job and regularly scheduled activities, but if you notice your pet clinging more, or becoming especially excited when you arrive home, take the time to give them extra love and attention. Studies show that an animal’s presence can increase a person’s oxytocin levels, so the added touches will likely benefit you during this time, as well.
Allow space for pets to heal
People need time to heal and grieve from a loss, and our pets do, too. While being a source of comfort is important, don’t ever force your pet to snuggle or engage in rigorous play—they may not be ready or willing, and that’s OK. Remember, every pet is different and will handle bereavement in their own individual way. Have a handful of tools available to soothe your pet when needed, but don’t be alarmed if they are withdrawn or disinterested, which is normal following a pet’s death.
Keep to your pet’s routine
While making a big change may be tempting as a way for you to deal with pet loss, changes can cause undue distress for the rest of your furry family. If possible, refrain from drastically altering your pet’s environment or schedule. Now is not the time to introduce a new food, new home, or new work schedule. Your pets have already lost a big part of their life, and too many changes may lead to insecurity or behavior problems. To help keep a semblance of normalcy, stick to your regular routine. You may consider some modifications at home, such as playing soft music or keeping the television on for background noise, to help your pets feel less lonely when you’re gone. The familiar sights and smells of your late pet’s bedding or toys may provide additional comfort.
Make time for play and exercise with your pets
Don’t force it, but allow time each day for some physical activity with your pets. It is well-known that regular exercise releases feel-good endorphins and provides endless health benefits that you both need now more than ever. A daily romp in the yard or a leisurely walk outside in the fresh air will help you both to briefly focus your attention on something other than your loss, and may boost serotonin levels. Plus, the added quality time together will help strengthen your bond during this difficult time.
Schedule a veterinary appointment, if needed
Some pets may have a particularly hard time coping with pet loss, and may exhibit signs such as extreme withdrawal, inappetence, aggression, or other unexpected behavior changes. While mild changes in your pets’ attitude shortly after losing another pet is common, radical or long-term fluctuations may signal a more serious problem.
If you are worried about your grieving pet, do not hesitate to contact Best Friends Veterinary Care. We offer a variety of services that can help pets suffering from numerous conditions, including depression and anxiety. You read that right—pets can become depressed, too, and sometimes medication and other treatments are warranted. Your pet may not need a check-up after losing another four-legged companion, but it’s never a bad idea.
Contact our veterinary team for further information on pet loss and grief management.