Do Dogs Grieve: Kaypo’s Mourning The Loss of Her Mother

Do you think that dogs experience grief? Yes, dogs can mourn the loss of a companion, human or canine.

In my experience, the level of grief is individual and depends on the depth of the bond. Some dogs are more independent, while others form deep relationships with their housemates or canine friends. Three times our dogs experienced the loss of their housemate, and it affected them differently. The one who was lost the most was JD.

As you’d suspect, the outward signs of grief in dogs often manifest by behavior changes. However, some dogs react to loss physically, which can include:

Further information: Understanding Dogs and How They Experience Grief

  • lethargy
  • loss of appetite
  • and even illness.
Do Dogs Grieve: Kaypo's Mourning The Loss of Her Mother

Kaypo’s story

Kaypo was an 8-years-old Labrador mix. She grew up with her mother, and they were never separated. They did everything together, and Kaypo’s mother doted on her. They were a happy pair loving each other’s company.

As Kaypo’s mother kept getting older, she suffered from arthritis and eventually could not get up. Finally, their human parents decided to set Kaypo’s mom free of her hardship.

They did everything they knew to do to help Kaypo to understand and adjust to the situation. She was able to watch her mother pass and sniff her to accept that she was gone.

Kaypo’s grief

At first, Kaypo seemed to have accepted the situation. However, with passing days, Kaypo started missing her mate dearly. She seemed depressed, aimless, and lost the joy in life. Quiet and listless, Kaypo’s ears only pricked up when she heard somebody say her mom’s name as she was expecting her to walk in.

Yet, nobody truly understood the depth of Kaypo’s distress until it dramatically manifested in her appearance. Kaypo’s face turned grey-white in a matter of a few weeks. That’s how much stress Kaypo was really under.

Acceptance

It took almost a year before Kaypo returned to being an active, playful dog. Yet, she still sometimes gets sad.

Source story:
Kaypo, the 8-Year-Old Cross-Bred Labrador

Related articles:
Adopting a New Dog: From The End Of A Lead Line To Casa Jasmine—Meet Cookie, Our New Adoptee
Losing a Heart Dog: Adopting A New Dog While Grieving For The Dog Of My Life

Further reading:
Do Dogs Grieve Over the Loss of an Animal Companion?
Understanding Dogs and How They Experience Grief

Categories: ConditionsDog health advocacyGriefReal-life Stories

Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

7 Comments
  1. They definitely experience grief! When we had to put our lab Chloe down, Daviana had a really hard time dealing with the grief that she was feeling. My once independent dog was suddenly incredibly affectionate and needy. We gave her all the love and understanding that we could, and in time she started to show her independent side once again. But there was no way that you could deny that she experienced a very deep feeling of grief at the loss of her pack mate.

  2. Yes animals grieve. You BET they do. Our boy Silver had a best friend who lived across the way, Riley, his buddy, passed in an accident. To this day Silver is a different cat after that happened. I still catch him looking across the row waiting for his friend. It chokes me up as Riley was just a young cat.

    I can totally understand Kaypo’s sadness and what happened. I am just grateful her parents let her be there. It will have helped even if the passing was still traumatic for her. Don’t you just want to hug Kaypo eh?

  3. I’m so glad Kaypo’s human parents let Kaypo see her mom and sniff her after she passed. Although, it’s difficult, I think it helps them to process rather than suddenly the dog (or other animal) isn’t there. I did this with my horses and cats. They went through a process of grieving, but they weren’t standing at the door looking for their mate to come home. I think death is always hardest on those left behind – animal and human alike. You beautifully told this story. Thank you!

  4. It breaks my heart to read how our dogs grieve, it worries me as I am getting older and if something happens to me how will Layla react especially as she is so glued to me. This story opened my eyes more

  5. Yes! Dogs (and cats) definitely mourn the loss and grieve over their loved ones. The sadness and grief journey is real for dogs too! I’m so sorry to learn about Kaypo’s loss. As you mentioned, each animal grieves differently. It’s important to support them the same way you do for humans…just be present. With time they learn acceptance of this new reality and move forward. I experienced this situation with pet grief with my own older cat Precious’ death. My youngest Dusty grieved the loss of her sibling and was sad for about 2 -3 weeks but with time and love and support, she found her happy again.

  6. This story truly breaks my heart. So may dogs who are closely bonded go through very serious depressions after they loose a sibling/parent. In the past I have recommended as the time approaches to allow for the younger dog to have more “individual” time, so they can get used to being more independent. I personally don’t think this makes dogs not grieve, but it might make the transition slightly easier.

  7. I have no doubts that animals other than humans also grieve. I have not experienced it with my own dogs, but I used to work in rabbit rescue and rabbits, who often bond very strongly to their friends, for sure grieve. We’d always pay especially close attention to any rabbit who lost his/her partner because it wasn’t unheard of for the surviving rabbit to get depressed, stop eating, and pass away after the death of a bond-mate.

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