Signs of a Grieving Dog

by Karen S. Johnson
Sudden and unexpected behaviors like howling can indicate your dog is grieving.

Sudden and unexpected behaviors like howling can indicate your dog is grieving.

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Dogs can grieve when a human or animal companion dies or is absent for an extended time. During such a circumstance, it’s important to monitor your dog’s behavior. Iintense grief can cause illnesses that unchecked can be fatal. If possible, let your dog see an ill or dying companion, or even a dead body or grave. Dogs who are allowed to see the body of a companion seem to accept the death more readily.

Decreased Appetite

Pay attention to your dog’s eating habits. Little to no interest in food is a sign of grief in a dog. If prolonged, he can experience significant weight loss. Lavis h more attention on your dog; if his appetite doesn’t improve, take him to your veterinarian for a checkup and to verify another medical condition isn't causing the decreased appetite and weight loss.

Lethargy and Depression

You may not be able to definitively determine whether your dog is depressed, but you can tell if he seems lethargic and not wanting or willing to engage in his usual activities. He may lose interest in his toys, playing with you, taking his walks or other activities that he previously enjoyed.

Separation Anxiety

If you’ve ever witnessed a dog in the throes of separation anxiety, you may notice behaviors that are similar in your dog after his companion's death or in the midst of an extended absence. Some common behaviors include running from room to room as though searching for someone and following you constantly as though fearful he will lose sight of you. Some dogs may appear nervous and anxious, while others will withdraw and act as though they want to be alone.

Vocalizations

You may notice your dog being more vocal -- not necessarily barking, but howling, whimpering and whining. He may do this even when he is sleeping. This, along with other behaviors that are out of the ordinary for him, could last for several weeks.

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About the Author

Karen S. Johnson has worked as a writer and communications consultant since 1987. Her career highlights include traveling to developing countries as a social marketing consultant for maternal and child health. Johnson is also an avid equestrian and horse owner. She holds a Bachelor of Science in communications from University of Texas at Austin.

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