Helping Your Animals Deal With The Loss Of A Friend — Brooklynian

Helping Your Animals Deal With The Loss Of A Friend

On Wednesday afternoon my wife and I are going to say good-bye to an old friend of ours that has been with us for the last 8 years. We are going to have the procedure done in our home because we have read that it helps the other animals (1 dog & 3 cats) in the household deal with the loss of their friend.

I'm most concerned about how our other dog is going to react to the loss because they've been walking buddies for the past four years.

Does anyone have any strategies for developing a new normal?


  • Sorry you're going through this.

    In most cases, the dog's (I don't know much about the kitties) take it much better than the humans but the humans tend to project their emotions onto the dog. Dogs live in the moment. Our dogs react to our emotional state probably more than the actual loss. Keeping up your routines (for walking, feeding, playing) is a great start.

    Obviously the dog could be upset if it is extremely attached to the other dog, as in it has separation anxiety to be apart. Other than that, I think it is usually much easier than people expect for the pet to adapt. I have not had multiple dogs in a very long time, but I have many friends here who have been in your situation and all the of the remaining dogs have coped just fine.

  • I am so sorry - this is going to be very difficult for the whole family and do not feel that any emotions you experience or express are wrong. You are doing the most selfless act by easing your friend's suffering.

    We lost our 16 year old dal about 2 years ago (similarly we chose to let her go at home). Our boxer who had been with her for 5 years was devastated - developed separation anxiety, chewed the wood blinds, a table and did not eat (lost almost 10 pounds). We tried to pay him extra attention (helped a bit) and kept as close to his normal routine as possible. We ended up adopting another dog 8 months later which seemed to help him up immeasurably.

    We now lost our boxer 3 months ago (suddenly due to aggressive lymphoma) and we took it very hard - even though we knew it was the right thing to do. His buddy started to lose patches of fur (stress related alopecia) and would not eat. He has slowly come around (although he will still chew thru small throw rugs or mats) but he needs us to be within sight or reach.

    Animals grieve but much like humans at their own pace and in their own fashion. Routine will help as will some extra attention.

  • Wow, Domino that sucks!

    Limestonekid, don't let domino's experience scare you. I don't think those reactions are the norm. I was talking about your situation with others folks at off-leash and between all of us, there were no bad stories. There were plenty who had expected the dogs to take it badly but all said they were happily surprised that their dog had barely shown signs of noticing anything was different. Hopefully that will be your case. If your dog is upset and gets along well with other dogs, maybe some extra trips to off-leash or dog parks could help.

    If the dog you are worried about has shown signs of separation anxiety in relation to the older dog, then you might want to contact a trainer stat to get some professional guidance. If the dog panics (incessantly barks, drools, chews, etc.) when the other dog is gone (like to the vet) that would be a good indicator of potential problems.

    Besides all the dogs in my personal life, I used to work at a shelter and training center where lots of people would bring their dogs for training on all kinds of issues. I've personally seen another dog that attached to a fellow pet only once and it was obvious long before the older dog died. Hopefully that means LSK's dog will adapt okay.

  • so sorry to hear this. i used to have 2 dogs, calvin & simon. simon died VERY suddenly at age 8 (had him since he was a puppy) and calvin was left alone after 8 years of having a constant companion. calvin started howling when i was gone during the day and my neighbors complained. so i really don't believe dogs don't feel it or know it. calvin never did this before. i actually left a camera on to make sure it was him and he started howling less than a minute after i walked out the door and this kept happening weeks after simon died. i tried to take him with me when i wasn't at work but i couldn't keep that up so eventually, i got another dog. i didn't feel that i was ready but it was the best decision i didn't know at the time.

  • We had two dogs who were companions for 8+ years. When our elderly cockapoo died, our golden retriever was visibly sad for weeks, eating very little and demanding more attention from us than usual.

    The sweetest thing was, he never again set foot in the dog house they used to sleep in together. He wouldn't go near it after she was gone.

    Still, within a few weeks, he was back to his normal self. They grieve just like humans do--each in their own way.

    I think the key is to stick to your old routine as best you can. Routine is comforting to animals. Best of luck to you and RIP to your baby.

  • Thank you to everyone for sharing. Our girl passed peacefully on Wednesday afternoon. It was a difficult decision for us as her caregivers but it was really time for her to say good-bye. In the days leading up to her departure we spent some quality time at a couple of off-leash parks. Something which she obviously enjoyed even though it completely wiped her out for 24 hours after her first visit.

    So far there haven't been any observable adverse reactions from our three cats and our other dog. I think our other pup is enjoying the longer walks and the increase in attention but it remains to be seen how he'll react after my wife and I return to work on Monday.

    Thanks again.

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