Owners of multiple pets know that these furry “siblings” share a special bond with one another. Whether the pets in your home romp around the backyard and snuggle up together on the couch or simply coexist and barely engage with one another, many pet parents want to know if one pet dies, does the other grieve their loss? It’s an important question when you are considering how the death of a beloved pet will impact your family and how best to support not only your human, but your animal family members.
Many of our clients wonder if their other pets should be present for an in-home euthanasia, and the answer is different for each family. It can be helpful to know that, should your resident pets be present for the death of their friend, they will not be traumatized by the experience. Animals instinctively know when others are ill or have passed away, and they understand it in a deeper way than humans do. While they will not be disturbed by the actual procedure, they may show signs of grief in the days and weeks following the death of their housemate. Decreased appetite, changes in activity, or separation anxiety can all be signs that your pet is grieving.
Alternately, when a pet is euthanized in a clinic setting away from your other pets, it can be confusing for their animal family members, who may not understand what has happened to their loved one and why they did not come home. Your pets have their own individual personalities and sensitivities, and you know them better than anyone else – it is up to you to determine how much to include your furry family members in a euthanasia appointment.
The grieving process for your pet is very personal, and each pet may grieve the loss of their companion differently, just like each person grieves differently. It’s ok for your pet to act differently for a while after the loss of their companion, and it’s also okay if you don’t notice any changes in your other pets’ behavior. Keeping to normal routines, such as walks, playtime, and meal times, is a good way of supporting grieving pets. Some pets may also appreciate extra cuddles and one-on-one time after a loss, and you may appreciate that too as you help one another through the grieving process.