Dogs in Mourning – Pet tip 246
Dogs are extremely sensitive animals and can feel many of the same emotions that humans feel. Although many seasoned dog owners already know this, newer dog owners are often surprised by the depth of some of the emotions that dogs can feel. We all know that dogs can be very happy creatures; their broad wagging tails give them away every time. But dogs are capable of feeling more complex emotions than just happiness. At the other end of the spectrum there is sadness and depression and dogs are capable of feeling these emotions. Perhaps there is no greater testament to this fact then when a dog’s owner or another dog from the household dies. In the majority of these cases, dogs will go into mourning and their behaviour can bear a striking similarity to when human beings are in mourning.
Since mourning and depression are closely related, their signs will be similar. Some of these signs of mourning include;
1 – Social withdrawal – Dogs in mourning often stop playing with the people and the toys that they normally play with.
2 – Lack of appetite – Roughly ten percent of dogs eat little to no food during the first few days of mourning.
3 – Increased sleep – You might well notice your dog sleeping considerably more than usual.
Lethargy – Dogs will show little interest in participating in their normal activities
4 – Restlessness – Some dogs exhibit the opposite behaviour where they are much more restless than normal. This may be due to the anxiety of not knowing where their cherished companion is. Many dogs sleep much less than normal because of this.
5 – Increased barking or vocalizations – This is also likely due to anxiety.
If the dog’s mourning is due to a human that has died then of course the whole household will also be in mourning. There are no easy answers in this case except that spending time with your dog can be more soothing to you and the dog, than neglecting the dog. If the owner that died was the only human member in the household, and there are no other dogs, then this will be much harder on the dog as the dog’s whole world has now changed; it will need a new owner. Hopefully someone that the dog knows and likes can step in. If the dog’s mourning is due to the death of another dog in the house, then spending more time with your dog can soothe it as well as distract it. The other human(s) in the house might also be in mourning over the dog that has passed away but by spending extra time with the surviving dog, this mourning might be easier.
Normally, the dog’s behaviour will return to normal within a couple of weeks to a couple of months; it really depends on the dog. If you feel that your dog is just too depressed or is taking too long to return to normal, discuss this situation with your veterinarian.