Do Dogs Know When a Puppy Has Died?

Your puppy's passing might have your other pup lying around all day.
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You're not the only one feeling sad when your puppy passes away. Your other canine spent time with his younger brother and probably got used to him being around. While he processes the youngster's passing differently than you, he knows that something's out of the ordinary and probably reacts accordingly.


Your pup has no idea that his puppy friend died. All your pal knows is that he doesn't have his companion anymore. He doesn't wake up to him, play with him in the morning and sleep beside him at night. His entire life schedule has been messed with. He doesn't know what happened to the puppy, just that he's not there anymore. It's the sudden change in your pup's routine that makes him concerned and could cause him to fall into depression.


Without his young friend running next to him, biting his neck, chewing his legs and offering devious plans on how to raid the treat jar, your dog might seem completely devastated. His behavior might seem slightly different than normal, such as lying around more, or he may change drastically and refuse to play and have no interest in what he loved doing just a few days ago.

Not Eating

It's not unusual to see a full food bowl sitting for a few days after your pal's younger brother passes away. In the same vein as feeling sluggish and lethargic, your pup has no interest in eating. He's very upset. Anytime a dog goes through a traumatic experience, be it changing owners, suffering from a painful injury or losing his puppy friend, he gets all sorts of worked up and that leads to a lack of appetite.

Some React Differently

Not all of the tail-wagging barkers fall into a state of depression when their puppy companion dies. Some dogs seem chipper and act like the world is all sunshine and rainbows. The way your friend reacts to the loss of his brother depends on him as an individual canine, corny as that might seem. Look at dogs who get neutered. Some are out of it for a day and part of the next, and they won't stop licking and biting the incision. Others are up and running around the same day, unaware of what they no longer have. Not all dogs have the same reactions to situations.

Helping Your Pup Adjust

In a lot of cases, the best thing you can do for your pup when he's upset is to leave him alone. Take the opposite approach here. Take him for walks, give his favorite toy a few squeaks or play fetch for 20 minutes. Get him involved in the things he loves to do, and he'll hopefully come around within a week or so. He might fall into long-term depression, but your vet can diagnose that and also provide him with medication to help his furry butt become happy and crazily excited again.

Mother and Littermates

Young puppies who are still with and need their mother usually don't have such severe reactions to the death of their brother. They're often too young and not developed enough to realize anything happened. If they're older, such as 5 or 6 weeks, they may seem somewhat depressed if they're part of a small litter, but it usually won't last more than a couple of days. If they're part of a larger litter, the loss of their brother isn't a big change to their routine, so they likely won't react in a negative way. The mother, on the other hand, may seem distraught, especially if she loses multiple puppies. She may whine, pace and seem very down. If the puppy was older and more independent, she usually won't seem as affected.


If your pup seems lethargic for more than a week, or doesn't eat after three days, make a vet appointment. A dog's refusal to eat isn't as serious as a cat's hunger strike, but it requires attention if it lasts more than three days. At no time should your pup suffer from other symptoms than the ones mentioned. If he does, it's time to see the doc.

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.

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