How to Support your Bonded Animals in the Grieving Process

Bonded animals can experience major grief from losing their bonded friend. Just like humans have to deal with the loss of close friends and family, your pets can experience the same level of grief. You may be asking what does it mean by bonded animals. has a great article about bonded pairs. You can find that article here (Should I adopt a bonded pair). In the article they describe a bonded pair as

“A bonded pair goes beyond two animals that are from the same household, or a pair of animals that amicably enjoy each other’s company – rather, bonded pairs share a special connection wherein their separation would put both pets at risk of distress, anxiety, or even depression. They’ll usually share beds or sleeping areas, they’ll eat at the same time, play together, and will seek comfort from one another in stressful situations”

One thing most people don’t think about with bonded animals is that bonded pets don’t have to be from the same species. I have even heard stories about a cat and a mouse that formed a bonded pair. Bonds can also be formed by more than just two pets. Multiple pets can become bonded.

When it comes to losing a bonded animal it can be difficult to predict what impact this will have on the surviving pets. To add another level of difficulty in the process of helping bonded animals grieve is that you as a pet owner will also be dealing with grief. This can make it even more difficult to recognize the pain and grief your animal may be going through.

As you and your pets begin this process of grieving please understand that the process of recovery can take more than just a few days or even weeks. You can’t rush the process but you can take steps to help everyone cope. 

In this article we will be specifically talking about helping your bonded pet grieve. If you need assistance dealing with grief we have several good articles to help you. 

With bonded pets, their close attachment with each other can have the same impact that humans experience when it comes to losing someone close.

Signs your Pet is Grieving

There really are two major types of signs that we can see in pets, behavioral and physical.

Behavioral signs that your pet is dealing with grief could range from decreased appetite, lethargy, increased vocalization, searching behavior, to withdrawal from social interactions.

Here are a few things to look out for when it comes to physical signs. 

  • Weight loss
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • increased susceptibility to illnesses may also occur

If you see your pet experiencing any of these symptoms, we recommend increased vigilance. Sometimes a bonded pet can slowly begin to process their grief and will eventually work through it. Honestly we would recommend a few things to help your pet work through their grief. One thing as a pet owner that we know is that our pets can’t use words to tell us what they think or want. This means it is our job to try and see any signs they do give us and then to try and help them heal. 

How to help your Grieving Pet

So the next question is what are some things you can do to help your pet. There are 4 different categories that we are going to separate these into: routine, enrichment, socialization, and support.

Routine is our first major category. When it comes to routine, keeping a set schedule can help your pet find a sense of stability and security. In your schedule make sure you have regular feeding times, exercise times, and play times. One caveat that we will provide is that if you notice part of your schedule causes your pet additional grief then making a small change to the routine could help your pet make the transition to not having their bonded friend.

Enrichment is another major category that we will focus on. Adding toys, food puzzles and other items can help your pet to deal with their grief. You may ask yourself how adding toys can help a pet but one thing your pet loses when they lose their bonded friend is the engagement they are used to. This can cause boredom which can then lead to depression, anxiety and additional grieving. Toys, puzzles and other items are not the only enrichment things you can do. Adding sounds and even scents are examples of environmental enrichments that you could add to your pets day to help alleviate boredom and to stimulate their brain. Some people even chose to leave their tv on when they go to work or are going to be away for a while so that their pet has that stimulation. (Side note – There is a viral fan theory going around that says dogs can see the show, Bluey, because the colors are made for dogs to be able to see. There is an interesting article about this, which can be found here.)

Adding Socialization into your surviving pets life can also help them deal with grief. For your surviving pet, losing their bonded mate means they lose their main source of socialization. Important Note – We are not suggesting that you go out and immediately get another pet so your surviving pet has a friend. This could be hard on your surviving pet and cause them more stress. Check out our article about When to get a new friend for your grieving pet.

We are referring to taking your pet out to a park, if they are a species that can go to the park. This is so they can enjoy time with other animals. Another idea is setting up a playdate with a friend that may have an animal your pet knows or has interacted with in the past. Make sure not to push your pet. If they isolate themselves on the playdate, allow them to do so. They may not be ready. 

The final category that we are going to discuss is support. We are referring to two different types of support, your support and maybe even professional support. When it comes to your support, be careful and don’t rush your surviving animal’s grief process. Help your pet by doing some of the above ideas.

One other level of support is professional support. If your pet continues to show signs of grief over a long period you may need to seek the help of a professional pet behaviorist, pet psychologist or their vet. It can be difficult for pet parents to recognize that they need to seek professional help but if your pet is showing major symptoms that could be threatening their life you need to seek help. 


Overall, keep in mind that your pet has to go through the grieving process. Your job as a pet owner is to help them through the process. As always if you have any questions or need additional support feel free to reach out to our team or leave us a comment on this article.

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