Do Pets Grieve?

Seems like a silly question to anyone who has ever had pets but, no kidding, it has been studied and tested.

So, if we all agree, we can explore grief and how it affects our companions.

Grief in humans has been studied for ages.   Elisabeth Kübler-Ross put forth her famous 1969 Stages of Grief hypothesis: 1.Denial 2.Anger 3.Bargaining 4.Depression and 5.Acceptance.  Scientists have determined that people can actually die from a broken heart. I believe pets have more diverse reactions.

Some things may be a loss to your pet and you don’t even know it.  Anything that disrupts their normal routine can bring on grief.   Professional pet sitters do what they can to minimize the impact of vacations and business trips.  I believe that keeping as much of a normal routine as possible is best for your pet.

Sometimes grief is obvious, sometimes the symptoms are less recognizable.  Commonly, a pet will eat less , be listless and sullen but, according to some studies, pets can have some “unusual” reactions like aggression, paw-licking, and destructiveness.

So, what can you do to help them?

1. Monitor your pet.

2. Keep daily routines as consistent as possible.

3. Keep your pet’s diet and mealtimes the same.

4. Take care not to inadvertently reward your pet’s depression.

5. Don’t openly display your grief in front of your pet.

6. Give it time.

As tempting as it might be, if your pet is grieving the loss of a companion, don’t try to “replace” the lost partner immediately.  It may take months for the grief to subside.


Sources for this blog include

Mercola Pets