Helping Your Dog through Grief

Sad Cavalier dog - Dogs and griefBy Michele L. Meyer

Losing loved ones can affect our dogs too.  They also experience grief and often are affected by the changes in routine and the stress and grief that their humans go through at difficult times.  Whether your dog is grieving or affected by those grieving around them… there are things you can do to help them through the difficult time.

  • Try to keep their daily routine the same if possible. Abrupt changes in the schedule can be very stressful for dogs.
  • Go for a walk together, play fetch, hide and seek, or however you normally exercise your dog. Physical exercise reduces stress for both people and dogs.
  • Spend some time outside with your dogs. Fresh air can boost our moods and Fido’s too!
  • Increase your dog’s mental stimulation with puzzle type dog toys that are designed to put food into and your dog has to figure out how to get the food out.
  • Another great way to mentally stimulate your dog is with training such as obedience type training, dog tricks, or games. Just make sure it is positive reinforcement dog training so that it is fun for your dog and not stressful.
  • Give your dog a massage…it can help you both to feel better 🙂
  • If all of the above are not enough to boost your dog’s mood, you may need to talk to your dog’s veterinarian about some natural calming aids, or a temporary medication may be needed in more severe cases. Just be sure to ask your veterinarian how to wean off of the medication.
  • Dogs can sense our emotions and stress so be sure to take care of yourself too. Try getting a massage or going to see an uplifting movie or lunch with some friends…whatever works for you. Keeping your spirits up will help your dog to feel better too.
  • Be patient with yourself and your dogs. There is no time limit for grief. We all have to go through it in our own way and our own time, and that is true for our dogs too.

This post is dedicated to all of you who have lost a loved one. My heart goes out to you and I hope this year brings much healing for you and your family.