Man's best friend has the ability to form deep bonds with the ones they share their lives with. A dog's person, or owner, is truly the center of his universe. Dogs can experience mourning and may show signs of depression, loss of appetite and listlessness.
Mourning and Loss of Appetite
When a dog is in mourning, there are telltale signs. He may not be interested in his beloved treats and his appetite could be at an all-time low. In fact, he may lose interest in basic needs, such as drinking water. This should be monitored because he could become dehydrated and need veterinary care. He may sit at his food bowl without taking a single bite. Board Certified Veterinary Behaviorist, Dr. Christopher Pachel, tells the website Cesar's Way that people shouldn't pet the dog or give him extra attention when he sits and stares at his food dish without eating. This could create a picky eater.
Lack of Interest
A dog in mourning may act depressed with a blatant loss of interest in activities he used to love, such as playing fetch. Without his owner there to do these favorite activities with, he may feel uninterested. Where he was once alert and responsive to other people and pets in the household, a dog in mourning may be slow to respond to others. He may even let out a sad bark or howl every once in a while.
Helping a Dog in Mourning
It's important to help a furry friend in mourning cope with their loss. Maintaining their regular schedule is important for their overall health. Being fed at the same time they were always fed and going on walks at the same time of the day will help them to feel more secure even though they have lost the person who usually did these things for them. Making time for regular walks and play are important because getting the dog moving and active will help increase his serotonin levels, which contribute to happier, more positive feelings. Keep in mind that he may not feel playful. If he isn't, don't push it.
Don't Feed Into It
It's good to be there for a grieving dog and comfort him in his time of loss, but dogs may take after human behaviors. A sad, moping human who constantly tries to console him can make matters worse in the long run. Though grieving for a few weeks to a few months is normal, at some point, it is important to get back into the swing of things and embrace life once again.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Pamela Miller has been writing for health, beauty and animal health/welfare publications for seven years. Miller holds a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Communication from MTSU.