My Pet World: How to help a pet with the loss of another pet
We recently lost one of our dogs. My remaining pet is a playful, happy Havanese, or at least he was. He has become very nervous and anxious without her. Whenever we go out and leave him alone, he howls, cries, barks and runs all around the house. We have tried everything from medication and day camp to a cuddle pup with a heartbeat wearing a T-shirt of my deceased dog.
When I brought him home from the day camp, he had diarrhea for days. We brought him to our vet. She explained he wasn't sick but stressed. We know what he's going through, because we installed a video cam to keep an eye on him.
My sweet Lhasa Apso has been gone since November and we are at a loss as to how to help Havanese. We are at a stage in our life where we can't consider adopting another dog. Any suggestions would be much appreciated. -- Jerri, Syosset, NY
I am sorry for your loss. It's never easy losing an animal companion. It's also never easy comforting a pet left behind that is grieving over a lost friend. While it sounds like your dog would definitely benefit from having a new canine companion in the home, I understand that's not always an option for some people.
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He is definitely grieving as well as suffering from separation anxiety. Are you able to walk him more frequently? Exercise can help him rest better when you're not at home. Can you buy him some puzzle toys to play with for when you're away from the house? Mental activity can take his mind off his loneliness. If the day camp was a no-go (good idea by the way), is he a good candidate for the dog park? He might just need you to be with him when he is meeting other dogs.
Your vet may be able to prescribe some anxiety medication for some temporary relief, but I suggest trying canine pheromones first, which have a calming effect on dogs. They are available at the pet store as a spray, wipe, plug-in or collar. Try the collar for him and use the spray on his bed and other areas in the home where he hangs out.
There is also a CD called "Through a Dog's Ear, Using Sound to Improve the Health & Behavior of Your Canine Companion" that you can leave on when you leave home. According to the creators of this music, clinical trials showed this specially-curated soundtrack helped calm dogs up to 85 percent of the time.
Finally, get an Anxiety Wrap or Thundershirt for him to wear all the time. It feels like a big hug and may help him feel more secure during this transition period.