Supporting Pets that have Lost a Friend
We get many calls and emails with questions about how to help other pets
that have lost a companion. This is certainly something owners need to be
aware of when they have lost a companion animal. Your other pets have lost
a friend too and may be confused as to why they no longer have their
playmate. Sadly we cannot explain this loss to them but we can help them
It is common for the surviving pets behavior to change following the death
of a housemate. Your pet may seem extra needy, distant, or possibly show
increased signs of irritation, reduced appetite, or increased vocalization.
These are just common examples. They may just seem ‘off’ and not
Watch your pet
It is recommended not to leave them in an area where they could escape; as
some pets literally ‘search’ for their friend. If you have an
inside/outside cat keep them in for a couple of days. Keep a close eye on
your dog when they are let outside; even if they are normally good about
staying in the unfenced yard.
Develop or do not change from the daily routine
Be careful not to reinforce the new behaviors they are displaying. Some
people attempt to and give an animal extra attention at this time, or hand
feed them to encourage appetite. The difficulty with this is you will not
always be able to do these things—it is best to keep routines much the same
It is normal to want to spend extra time with your surviving companion
animal, but do not do it so much that when things return to normal (you go
back to work etc.) that you leave your pet confused.
Multiple Pet Households
If you have a multiple animal household (particularly cats) realize the
social structure has changed with the loss of a member. There may be
increased tension (possibly fighting or vocalization) in the remaining
animals. Allow them to re-establish their social structure—which may mean
allowing some fights to break out. Of course, it is up to you to protect
them from harming one another but it is important they re-establish their
hierarchy within the group in an effort for them to adjust and reclaim order
Getting a new pet (Should
I Get A New Pet?)
When getting a new pet especially if the deceased and another pet were very
close, do not expect your existing pet to automatically accept the new pet.
Pets are like people, they have different personalities and no matter how
much like your old pet a new pet is—it is not going to be the same for
either you or your current pet.
Be patient when introducing a new pet. It may take your existing pet a
while to get used to the new addition.