How Long Does It Take For My Dog To Realize My Other Dog Died?

Grieving the Loss of a Canine Companion

Dogs can form strong social bonds with other dogs, especially those they live with and see every day. When another dog in the home passes away, the surviving dog will likely feel the loss intensely and exhibit signs of grief (1). Dogs are highly capable of experiencing strong emotions, including grief and sadness when mourning the loss of a canine companion.

Some common signs that a dog is grieving after the loss of another dog include behavioral changes like reduced interest in play, changes in appetite, increased vocalizations like whining or howling, restlessness, anxiety, and lethargy or depression (2). The grief process is unique for each dog, similar to how human grief is variable. Some dogs may withdraw, while others become clingy to their owners. Overall energy levels frequently decline. The duration and intensity of the grief depends on the closeness of the bond with the deceased dog.

While challenging for dog owners to observe, grieving is important for dogs to process the loss of a loved one. Being patient and providing extra comfort and affection can help dogs through normal grieving in their own time. If signs of distress or changes in behavior persist beyond a few weeks, consulting a veterinarian or animal behaviorist may be warranted. With support, dogs can gradually adjust to the loss of a cherished companion.




Signs Your Dog is Grieving

Dogs express grief in many ways that may be similar to humans. Some common signs your dog is grieving the loss of a canine companion include:

Withdrawing from family members/hiding – Your dog may isolate themselves, hiding under furniture or in small spaces. They seek solitude and do not want attention or interaction. This is a common reaction as they process the loss. []

Loss of appetite – Your dog may be depressed after losing their companion and not have an interest in food or treats. This lack of appetite is temporary and should improve over time. Offering high-value foods like chicken or steak may entice them to eat. []

Increased vocalizations – Your dog may bark, whine or howl more than usual. This could indicate distress over the loss or an attempt to search for their missing companion. Be patient and offer comfort through this communicative grieving process. []

Restlessness – Your dog may pace or seem unable to settle down. They may search the house looking for their companion. Allow them to grieve through this restless behavior, which should lessen over time.

Changes in sleep patterns – Your dog may have difficulty sleeping alone at night if they shared sleeping quarters with their companion. They may wake frequently or have trouble settling down. Be patient and try soothing techniques like blankets with familiar scents.

How Long Does the Grieving Process Last?

There is no set timeframe for how long the grieving process lasts in dogs. According to the AKC, “Typically, their behavior returned to normal within two to six months.” (

The length of grieving depends on factors like the strength of the bond with the deceased dog. Some dogs may grieve for just a few days before returning to their normal routines. Others may take weeks or even months to adjust after the loss of a close canine companion.

As Old Dog Haven explains, “It make take weeks, or even months for your dog to emerge from grief. Just hang in there and honor the process by allowing him to make sense of it all in his own time.” (

Be patient with your dog during this difficult transition period. With time and support, most dogs are able to adapt to the loss, even if they still feel the absence of their friend.

Helping Your Dog Through the Grieving Process

Losing a canine companion is an immense loss for any dog. As a pet owner, you can help your dog navigate the grieving process and come out the other side. Maintaining as much normalcy in your dog’s routine as possible provides comfort through familiarity. Give your dog extra love and affection, and consider spending more one-on-one time together through activities like walks, playtime and cuddling. Engaging in new types of enrichment activities can also help distract your dog from their grief, whether it’s a long hike, playing fetch or learning a new trick.

You may want to arrange play dates with other dogs your pet is familiar with, to give them companionship. However, be mindful of overly boisterous play or interactions that could overwhelm a grieving dog. Keep a close eye on all interactions.

Consider speaking to your veterinarian about pet bereavement counseling or support groups in your area. There are trained professionals with experience helping dogs through loss. They can provide tailored strategies for your dog’s needs.

Be patient and understanding as your dog grieves. While the depth of their grief may surprise you, it’s important to let them express it. With time and support, most dogs are able to adapt to loss.

When to Seek Professional Help

While most dogs will gradually come to terms with the loss of a companion through the natural grieving process, some dogs may exhibit more concerning symptoms that require professional intervention. Prolonged issues like loss of appetite, anxiety, aggression, lethargy, or house soiling warrant a veterinary consult.

Specifically, contact your vet if your dog goes more than 2 days without eating, drinks significantly less water, or shows signs of anxiety or fearfulness like whining, pacing, trembling, or hiding. Aggressive behavior like growling, snarling, or biting, particularly directed at people, is also a red flag.

Additionally, pay close attention if your dog seems abnormally lethargic or withdrawn, no longer seeks out human interaction, or engages in compulsive behaviors like excessive licking. Persistent inappropriate urination or defecation in the house after being house trained could reflect depression or distress.

In extreme cases, the loss of a companion has been known to cause dogs to stop eating and drinking altogether. This can quickly become life-threatening. If your dog refuses food for over 48 hours, get emergency vet care. With professional help and your support, the vast majority of grieving dogs can move past their loss in a healthy way.

Preparing for the Loss of an Elderly or Sick Dog

Losing a beloved canine companion can be absolutely heartbreaking. The grief can feel especially profound and unexpected if your dog passes away suddenly due to an accident or unexpected illness. However, in some cases, you may have advance notice that your senior or ill dog is approaching the end of life.

If your dog is elderly or has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, you may have weeks, months or even years to prepare for their eventual passing. This time can be a gift, allowing you to focus on providing your dog with the best possible quality of life and to prepare yourself emotionally for their loss.

Here are some tips for preparing for the loss of an elderly or sick dog:

  • Give your dog extra love, care and attention – Shower them with affection, play their favorite games, give them special treats and simply spend quality time together. This will create positive memories.
  • Consult your vet for advice – Discuss options for managing pain, nausea and other symptoms to keep your dog comfortable. Ask about hospice/palliative care.
  • Consider in-home euthanasia when the time comes – Many vets can come to your home so your dog can pass peacefully in a familiar environment.
  • Make adjustments to care for changing needs – Get ramps, orthopedic beds, lift harnesses, etc. to accommodate mobility issues. Adapt their diet if needed.
  • Take lots of photos and videos – Capture memories of happy times together that you can cherish.
  • Talk to friends/family for emotional support – Share feelings openly and lean on your support system.
  • Consider if you’re ready for another dog – Decide if a new dog will help heal your grief or if you need more time.

Although losing your dog will still be painful, preparation can help reduce some of the shock. Focusing on their quality of life and comfort allows you to be present in each moment you have together. While nothing can completely take away the sense of loss, preparation helps make the transition a bit more smooth.

Introducing a New Dog After a Loss

The decision of when to get another dog after the loss of a beloved canine companion is a very personal one. It’s important not to rush into acquiring a new dog before you and any surviving pets are ready. As recommended by the AKC, “Wait until you’re fairly sure your bereaved dog is through the worst of the grieving process before bringing in a new sibling.”

Once you feel ready to welcome a new dog, introduce them slowly and with patience. Have the initial meeting take place on neutral territory outside your home, such as a park or neighbor’s yard. Keep the dogs leashed and allow short, structured interactions at first. Be alert for any signs of tension or discomfort in your surviving dog. Let them sniff each other and get acquainted at their own pace.

When bringing the new dog home, keep them separated at first when you are not directly supervising. Allow the dogs to become comfortable with each other’s scent before actually sharing space. As the AKC advises, “Be patient and understanding as the dogs figure out their new relationship.”

With proper introduction and time to adjust, the new dog can help bring joy back into your home. But don’t expect your surviving dog to immediately accept them right away. Moving forward after a loss takes time.


Memorializing Your Deceased Dog

There are many touching ways to create a lasting memorial for your beloved dog who has passed away. Here are some meaningful ideas to honor your dog’s memory:

Hold a funeral ceremony – This provides a sense of closure and allows family and friends to gather, share memories, and say goodbye. You can bury your dog and place a memorial marker or urn in a favorite spot. According to The 8 Best Pet Loss and Memorial Gifts, holding a ceremony is an important part of the grieving process.

Create a memory book or collage – Compile your favorite photos and stories of your dog into a memory book or framed collage. This creates a lasting tribute you can treasure. Services like Unique Pet Loss Memorial Gifts, Dog and Cat Sympathy Gift can create custom photo books and memorials.

Plant a tree in your dog’s memory – Planting a tree, roses, or other garden plant provides an ongoing living memorial. You can visit the tree and feel close to your dog. Choose your dog’s favorite spot in the yard or a park for the location.

Donate to charity in dog’s name – Donate to an animal shelter, rescue organization, or charity in your dog’s name. This creates a positive legacy and helps other dogs in need, which can be very healing. Many organizations offer memorial cards or certificates for donations made in a pet’s memory.

Coping with the Loss of Your Dog

Losing a beloved dog can be utterly devastating. Allow yourself to grieve and don’t let anyone tell you to “just get over it.” The death of a pet is a significant loss, so give yourself permission to fully mourn. Remember that there’s no right or wrong way to grieve the loss of your furry companion.

It may help to focus on the good memories you shared with your dog. Look through old photos and reminisce about the happy times. You could even make a photo collage or memory book to celebrate your dog’s life. This can help shift your perspective from grieving what you lost to appreciating what you had. As the saying goes, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

You may want to create a special tribute for your beloved dog. Some ideas include planting a tree, creating a garden space, or commissioning a portrait. Setting up a memorial site with your dog’s ashes, collar, or other special items can also provide comfort. Do what feels meaningful and healing for you.

Connecting with others who have gone through pet loss can make you feel less alone. Consider joining a pet loss support group to share stories and advice. You may be surprised how much solace you gain from bonding with sympathetic people who understand your grief.

Moving Forward While Honoring Your Dog’s Memory

It takes time to process the loss of a beloved pet. Be patient with yourself and don’t feel guilty if you are still grieving weeks or months later. Focus on all the happy memories you shared with your dog. Reflect on the special bond you had and take comfort knowing you provided them with a loving home.

Do some of the activities your dog enjoyed to commemorate them. Take the walk route they loved or visit their favorite park. You can even do things like bake their favorite treats or snuggle up with their old blanket. These little rituals can help you feel connected while also moving forward.

It may be tempting to quickly fill the void by getting a new pet. However, it’s often better to wait. Take time to grieve so you can give your new companion the love and attention they deserve. When you do feel ready, consider adopting from a shelter in your old pet’s honor.

Creating a memorial can also provide closure. Ideas include hanging a framed photo, planting a tree, or making a donation to an animal charity. You may also have your pet cremated and keep their ashes in a special urn.

The pain of losing your loyal companion lessens with time. Cherish the memories you shared and take comfort knowing you gave them a wonderful life full of love. They will forever hold a special place in your heart.

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