The dog trainer is in to answer your questions. Alexandra Macias, owner and operator of the Long Beach-based Alex Macias dog training, will be sitting down and answering readers' pet-related questions.
My husband and I had to put one of our dogs down last week. Our surviving dog, Lily, has never been without him, and is now extremely depressed and not eating much. Is there anything we can do to make her happier and more comfortable?
I am so sorry about the loss of your dog. My deepest, heartfelt condolences go out to you and your husband. Losing a pet is not only tough on us humans, but can be devastating to our animals as well. Dogs grieve just like us. Lily is mourning, and needs some time to move on and get over the loss.
The most important thing is to let her grieve. It’s ok that she’s saddened by the death of her brother. Lily is confused, and incapable of fully comprehending what has happened. This makes dealing with her brother’s death tough for her. To help her cope, it’s extremely important to keep her daily routine as normal as possible. Keep her days the same. During times of uncertainty, a sense of normalcy and structure can be extremely comforting.
You may also want to consider increasing the number and duration of her daily walks. Walks will not only keep her mind working and occupied, but they will also increase her endorphin levels. Endorphins help us feel better, so make sure you keep her moving.
Give Lily a lot of extra love and attention, but not necessarily more food/treats. Many pet parents tend to give their surviving dogs more treats to try to make them feel better. Treats may make her happy in the moment, but they will ultimately just lead to her gaining weight. Ask your vet for some low calorie choices, and remember that your love and affection will make her just as happy as a treat will.
Keep in mind that Lily may panic being home alone, so think about asking a friend or family member to watch her while you’re gone for long periods of time. A doggie daycare may also be a fun and safe distraction for her while you’re at work. Give yourself and Lily lots of time to heal and process this loss, and understand that being upset is normal. If she needs some space, give it to her. Don’t worry if she secludes herself a bit.
I wish you the best of luck with Lily, and again, am so, so sorry for your loss. WOOF!
Alexandra (Alex) Macias has been a certified Dog Trainer and Behavior Specialist since 2008, and is the owner of Alex Macias Dog training, a Long Beach-based dog training company. To ask Alexandra questions for a future article, leave them in the comments below, or email her at email@example.com.