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How to support a grieving dog

Losing a loved one can be devastating, with long-lasting emotional and physical effects. The same can be said about dogs who lose their companions, experiencing grief and a mourning period much like humans.

There will be obvious physical changes in your dog including:

·       Signs of depression: They may start to sleep a lot more, become socially detached or uninterested in playing
·       Decreased appetite: They may refuse to eat or eat smaller amounts of food.
·       Increased vocalisations: A grieving dog is likely to whine when looking for their companion, or if they pick up the scent of their buddy.
·       Searching: Dogs often pace around the house and repeatedly check places where their companion would often be.

There are ways you can support your furry friend through the grieving process and help them come out the other end.

·       Maintain your dog's routine: Dogs thrive on routine, maintaining their daily routine will minimise disruption and keep them relaxed by continuing to do 'what they know'. If you're used to walking or feeding your dog at a particular time of the day, continue to do so.
·       Give them extra attention: Make them feel extra special with more pats, cuddles, and perhaps some new toys and treats to keep them distracted.
·       Keep them occupied: Spend more time with them outdoors, give them brain games and puzzles, extra treats or anything you can think of to keep their mind off the loss.
·       Reassure them: If they are stressed and seeking comfort from you, reassure them with eye contact, talking to them in a calm voice and petting them.
·       Minimise their time alone: Long periods alone can lead to more anxiety and depression, limit the time they spend alone by hiring a dog walker or pet sitter, or enrol them in doggy daycare.
·       Give them time: Give them time and space to work through their emotions and grief. Do not rush to fill the void with another dog as this can make the situation worse.