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When a Paw Leaves an Empty Space: Understanding and Supporting Dogs in Times of Grief

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Losing your Cane Corso or a beloved furry companion can be a heartbreaking experience for any dog owner. However, it's important to remember that dogs also experience grief when they lose their fellow canines. Just like humans, dogs form strong bonds with their companions, and the loss can leave them feeling confused, sad, and disoriented.

An article by Barbara J. King in Scientific American presents just how dogs experience changes in behavior after the death of a fellow canine companion.

King, professor emerita of anthropology at the College of William and Mary, also explored this topic in her book How Animals Grieve. “We can’t understand how an animal understands or thinks about death,” says King. “We can only evaluate what we can see, and when someone in a dog’s life dies, dogs will react with behavioral changes.”

This definitely includes the loss of another dog. “After a dog dies, another dog in the household may show social withdrawal,” says King. “He may fail to eat or drink, he may search for his lost companion, or exhibit vocalizations that show he is stressed.”

In this blog post, we'll explore the concept of dogs grieving other dogs, delve into their emotions, and provide practical tips on how to support and comfort grieving dogs during this difficult time.

Senior old gray cane corso dog death bereavement grief

Senior Cane Corso | Creator: AN | Credit: Royal Guardian Cane Corso

Recognizing the Signs of Dog Grief

Dogs may exhibit various signs of grief when mourning the loss of a fellow dog. These signs can include decreased appetite, changes in sleep patterns, lethargy, loss of interest in activities, and even searching or calling for their departed companion. It's crucial to be attentive and observant to understand and validate their feelings of loss.

Understanding the Bond

Dogs form deep emotional connections with their pack members, including other dogs. They share a unique language and rely on each other for companionship, play, and emotional support. The loss of a fellow dog disrupts their social structure, leaving a void that can be challenging to comprehend. Recognizing and acknowledging the strength of these bonds helps us empathize with their grieving process.

Providing Comfort and Support

  1. Maintain Routines: Dogs find solace in predictable routines, so it's important to stick to their regular feeding, walking, and play schedules. This consistency provides them with a sense of stability during a tumultuous time.

  2. Engage in Gentle Activities: Encourage gentle exercise and play to help alleviate sadness and redirect their focus. Engaging in activities they enjoy, such as puzzle toys or low-key playdates with other dogs, can help them cope.

  3. Offer Extra Attention: Shower your grieving dog with love and attention. Provide extra cuddles, comforting words, and physical touch to reassure them of your presence and support.

  4. Create a Safe Space: Set up a cozy area where your dog can retreat and feel secure. Include their familiar bedding, toys, and items that carry the scent of their departed companion, as these can provide comfort and familiarity.

  5. Seek Social Interaction: Controlled and supervised interactions with other dogs can help ease the loneliness and provide opportunities for positive socialization. Consider playdates with friendly, well-matched dogs to gradually reintroduce them to canine companionship.

Time Heals, but Memories Remain

As with human grief, healing takes time. Dogs, like us, need time to process their emotions and adjust to their new reality. While they may not fully understand the concept of death, they can still sense the absence of their companion. With patience, love, and support, dogs can learn to adapt and find joy in new experiences while cherishing the memories of their departed friend.


Dogs have an incredible capacity for love and friendship, which makes losing a fellow canine companion a deeply emotional experience for them. As responsible dog owners, it's our duty to recognize and support them through their grieving process. By understanding the signs of dog grief and providing them with comfort, patience, and love, we can help our furry friends navigate through this challenging time. Remember, just as we find solace in the companionship of our dogs, they too find comfort in our understanding and support.

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

Winnie The Pooh/A.A. Milne

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