Helping a dog when their owner dies

blue cross, death of an owner, dogs, Royal Dogs, the Queen -

Helping a dog when their owner dies

Reflecting on recent events, a lot of people were concerned about what would happen to the Queen’s beloved Corgis and were relieved to find that they would remain with the family and have a loving home with her son in a place that was familiar to them, but many dogs are not quite so lucky.

Sometimes it can be difficult for a dog to comprehend what has happened when their owner dies, as we can’t really explain it to them and they may feel the same sense of loss and grief that humans do without any sense of closure. So what can we do to help them?

Beagle Photo by Marten Bjork on UnsplashBeagle Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

Speaking to Metro, head of behaviour at the Blue Cross, Ryan Neile said that every dog is different and their response to losing an owner will differ from one dog to the next:

“Some might appear to adapt and recover quite quickly, whereas other dogs might appear to experience the loss more deeply.”

If a bereaved dog has lost interest in things that they usually enjoy such as eating, playing or walkies then this could be a sign that they are taking the loss badly. They may also feel anxious when left alone, as they may believe that you are going to leave them for good too. But the good news is that with some love and patience they will start to adjust and eventually feel better, as Ryan explains:

“Grieving the loss of a loved family member is a natural process that most dogs recover from in time. We can help a dog to do this by being patient with them whilst sticking to their normal routine. Try not to overly compensate by dramatically changing your behaviour or their routine, as this might be confusing for them when things settle back to normal.”

Dalmatian Photo by Helena Lopes on UnsplashDalmatian Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

Depressed and anxious dogs

It is important to note however that some dogs can become stressed or depressed if their needs are not being met too and if you are concerned that their behaviour is being caused by more than their sense of loss or grief then it is a good idea to get them to the vet for a check up and figure out a course of action. Our recent article about depression and anxiety in dogs discusses the signs of depression in dogs and also has some tips and ideas for enrichment activities to make your dog feel better.

Make a plan for your pet

Every year, charities like the Blue Cross and the RSPCA take in dogs whose owners have died or are too ill to look after them. The Blue Cross has a service called Pet Peace of Mind which will - in the event of your death - ensure that your pet is cared for by the Blue Cross until they can rehome it.

Sad Dachshund Photo by Carissa Weiser on Unsplash

It’s always tragic when a pet outlives their beloved owner. HM the Queen had already decided not to get any more young dogs as she wanted to avoid leaving any behind if possible. Most of the 30+ Corgis that she owned during her lifetime were descended from her first Corgi, Susan that was given to her a gift on her 18th birthday in 1944. In 2015 she made the decision not to breed any more Corgis herself and had perhaps already made arrangements for her family to look after her pets when she passed away. 

Corgi on grass photo by Mentatdgt on Pexelsorgi on grass photo by Mentatdgt on Pexels

What inspired the Queen's passion for Corgis? The Queen's father owned one, named Dookie and it was this dog that started her life-long love affair with the breed, which despite originally being bred to herd cattle in Wales, actually make fantastic pets, which is why next week we’ll be taking a closer look at the Corgi and why the Queen was never without one.   

Main photo by Pinto Art on Unsplash

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