Pets can also experience a sense of loss when another pet dies. This is a guide about a dog not eating after other family dog died.
By Sandra from Wilson, AR
I had a dog that did that too. She grieved intensely for her lost son (she was 12 and the son was 6 and died from a respiratory problem). Here's what I did (I had started feeding her by hand just like you are doing):
1. I stopped feeding her by hand all together. Instead I put a small dish in the spot where she spent most of her time. In her case it was the bed she had shared with her son. Only put a little bit of food in at a time--she was a Welsh Corgi so I only put about 1/4 cup in at a time. Any animal's survival instinct will kick in before they starve, so don't worry about that. I checked it every couple of hours though and as soon as it got eaten, I'd give her another 1/4 cup.
2. Another thing I did was I took a small amount of beef and boiled it up good. I didn't use processed or canned broth as it has too much salt in it. But by boiling it myself I knew it was good. I kept this water in the fridge and added 1 Tbs to her water every day. This also helped to get her hunger activated.
3. Once she started eating better, I slowly moved it back to her normal feeding place. I only moved it a few feet at a time though, because whenever I tried to move it more she'd refuse to come and get it.
4. All through this time, I gave her all the loving I could possibly give. You have to realize the dog is grieving just as you would if you lost a close family member. They need your love and support. And patience. It may take a while but he will come around. And the two of you will be closer for the experience.
5. Oh, also through this time I also gave her a doggy multi-vitamin daily too just to make sure she was getting the vitamins she needed while she wasn't eating enough.
One thing that will help you understand is to ask yourself, when you are hurting emotionally due to a loss or whatever, are you hungry? If you're like most of us, the answer is a profound NO. The same goes for your dog. He's hurting from the loss. Plus he doesn't understand why his best friend isn't there anymore. You can't explain to a dog that the other dog has gone to heaven. So he's confused too.
Be patient and give him time. In his own time he'll come around. Plus right now is NOT the time to get another dog or companion for him. If you lost your child, would you be in a hurry to get pregnant again to replace him/her? Of course not. Don't expect your dog to want a replacement either. Once he's been through his grieving, then and only then would be a time to consider another dog. Just because he's got 4 legs instead of two and barks instead of talking, doesn't mean he feels any less intensely than we do. For that matter most dogs feel even more intensely than most people do.
Agree with so many other posters here in that you have to realize that though they're not humans--believe that they grieve. When you've suffered a loss, your appetite suffers, too.
I'd cease the hand-feeding, though, because the repetition of it is going to reinforce a bad habit that you really don't want to continue long-term. Cuddle him and love him, but put down his regular portions and leave them there only fifteen minutes and take them away. If you feed twice a day, set the food down at the next feeding for the same time period.
If he wants nothing to do with it the first day, he won't languish and die and chances are that by day two he'll be looking forward to mealtime. This isn't cruel--it's also a method used when trying to regulate the house-training of young puppies to introduce some sort of schedule and sense of normalcy. Your pup's world has been abruptly changed, and often they revert to puppy-like behavior.
Give him (and yourself) time to grieve; his missing a couple of meals is really quite normal and the situation will usually get better on its own if you try to preserve the routine that was in place while the other dog was alive.
This may sound a little morbid, but: if the other dog passed away in the house, that could be presenting you with another issue. Just as there are service dogs who pick up on chemical changes in their owners' bodies and can detect seizures coming on--death (and impending death) presents a scent that dogs often pick up on, trained to or not.
If the bedding, feeder/water and toys of the dog that passed away are still present, the bedding should be discarded and the rest thoroughly washed and either stowed away for memory's sake or be otherwise removed and apart from your surviving dog while he adjusts to life without his pal.
Would also run it by your vet to rule out any health problems in your surviving dog--just in case.