Our pets are sensitive members of the family. They have an intuition about sickness and illnesses, often sensing when changes are happening. Though they are unable to communicate by talking they do have their own way to express their feelings. The most common way they react is with behavioral changes. Owners will often notice their pets become calmer and more attentive to the sickly pet. The other animals will sit in the same room more and often rest more closely to the poorly pet.

Should they see the pet after they have passed?

When it comes time to say goodbye, often it is helpful for the other animal members to see the body of the passed one before they leave the house. This allows them to see and understand they won’t be at home anymore. Nothing is more stressful than a companion pet searching the house for their friend.

Do animals grieve?

Pets have strong bonds with each other and experience many emotions that we do, happiness and joy, pain and sadness, even jealousy and frustration. They absolutely show sadness and sensitivity to their friend or family animal when they get sick and pass away. Sometimes they become more needy and affectionate whilst others will become quieter and depressed as they pine for their companion. Just like people, they respond differently with loss and grief and time is the real healer for them.

Our pets are also greatly attuned to their owner’s feelings and emotions. Many sensitive dogs and cats react to our sadness and become melancholy and more dependent on us for affection and reassurance.

Sometimes changes in appetite and energy are seen, this can be normal for a few days but if they are continuing check with your regular vet in case something else is going on.

There are some pets that will not show any change after their companion has passed away. Do not worry or be disturbed by this. They can accept changes sometimes much easier than humans can, it doesn’t mean they didn’t care.

How can I help them manage their pain?

  • Give them extra attention and love. You have the same feelings about the one you miss and can help console each other. Kind words and acting optimistic will help you both get through the darker days. Going for a walk in the sunshine is or sitting in the garden or by the window is just as important for both of you.
  • Try to minimize crying excessively with your other pet as this can distress them further. Also if your other pets are less comfortable with affection and hugs don’t start forcing this upon them as this can be difficult for them.
  • Try to keep the same routine for the pets in your family, this gives them a sense of stability and can help them process this change. Feeding and exercise and bedtime should try to be kept as similar as possible. Cats especially become stressed with changes in the house so try to minimize moving furniture or changing their favorite sitting areas.
  • Keep active and busy like normal. It is important to not sit and become deeply depressed as hard as that may seem at the beginning. Music also is a therapy that helps calm the troubled heart and communicate to both of your senses. Especially leaving classical or relaxing music on when you leave the house an be very helpful.

The way you are both feeling is a sign of true love, the bond and memories created are cherished and honored at this difficult time. Give yourself kindness and know you gave your passed pet a wonderful life.