When a pet passes away it feels as though a part of your family is missing. Your loved one is irreplaceable and it can take a substantial amount of time to recover from the pet’s passing. It is a difficult transition for us, but what about the other animals in your family? According to our recent survey of 1,250 pet parents, twenty percent of households are multi-pet households. So what does one do when one pet crosses the rainbow bridge, and another is left to mourn? We wanted to provide guidance and resources in regards to how pets grieve and how to address the loss of other household pets.
How to address pet grief in a multi-pet household
Spot the signs of pet grief
A pet can experience grief in a number of ways. “Some pets will seem anxious, stop eating, or seem lethargic after the loss of a companion”, states on-site Trupanion veterinarian, Dr. Sarah Nold.
Incorporate new routines
Routines can be abruptly disrupted by the loss of a pet. The establishment of a routine different than your old routine can be beneficial. “I recommend removing items related to the deceased pet (such as toys and food dishes) and establishing a new routine for you and your living pet”, says Nold.
Daily exercise regime
Regular physical activity and a daily exercise regime is always a wonderful health benefit for your pet. “Exercise is absolutely beneficial with your pet’s mood. Likewise, it can be useful to you. Also, environmental enrichment (such as a new toy), and doing activities your pet enjoys can help with anxiety”, points out Nold.
Loss takes time
Loss can take a toll on your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Also, this is the case for your pet as well. In terms of a timeline to recovery, “as with people, every pet is different. However, if symptoms continue for more than days to weeks- I think an exam by your veterinarian is warranted. Likewise, if your pet is not eating (vs only a decreased appetite) this timeline should be moved up,” says Nold.
On the mend
Bonding with your living pet can assist in the recovery process. Also, “Your pet is sensitive to how are you feeling. So, it is also important that you are also taking steps to help with your own grief. Consider finding a special way to let you and your pet say goodbye, as well as memorialize the deceased pet” states Nold.
Pet grief: give your entire family time to process the loss of your best friend
Pet Grief is very comparable to human grief. We need time to process the loss, remember and memorialize the deceased, and celebrate their life. Similarly, with the ability to see the signs, incorporate new routines, partake in daily exercise, and giving yourself time your pet should be on the road to recovery. As a result, “if symptoms are severe or persist, I recommend having your vet examined by a veterinarian. In some cases, an appetite stimulant or anti-anxiety medication may be recommended,” says Nold.