Helping Your Dog through Grief

2018 was a difficult year for my family with the loss of my father and a few more close calls. Although my dog was not around my father much before he passed, she definitely was affected by the changes in routine and the stress and grief my family was going through.

A few of our clients also had dogs cross the Rainbow Bridge this year, having a noticeable effect on the other dogs in the home. It made me think I should write a little about helping dogs through the grief process, whether they are grieving or affected by those grieving around them. So to help your dog through a 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 🙂
  • Essential oils are a great natural calming option as long as you use ones that are safe for dogs. For more information, check out our page on essential oils and dogs.
  • 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 with 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 also lost a loved one. My heart goes out to you and I hope 2019 brings much healing for you and your family.

Wishing everyone a very happy, healthy, and prosperous 2019 filled with much love and blessings. Happy New Year!!!