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By Sandra Mercer 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.
I have a 2 yr old Shih Tzu who is not eating as he should. It all started when our other dog died 8 months ago. He will go days with no food and then for a few days to a week he will eat as though nothing is wrong and is playful. Then he starts refusing to eat again and doesn't want to do anything. This has gone for months now.
He was 5.3 kilo before this started he is now 4.5 kilo. When I walk him he has no interest in anything going on until he sees another dog then he runs about playing and stiffing everything in sight. As soon as the other dog leaves he goes back to being uninterested and walks behind me like I'm having to almost drag him along.
He was treated 3 times by a vet for an upset stomach. I am not sure if it was due to not eating or something he has eaten so I had him on gastro food from the vet, but didn't help at all. I've tried hand feeding and spoon feeding canned food and sometimes he will eat and sometimes not. I'm at a loss of what to do now and really need help please.
I've now even bought a puppy. I just hope this will help him and not make him worse as he wants to play with any dog he sees even if never met before. So far he wags his tail when sniffing the pup, but runs when the pup tried to play.
Can anyone please help me I don't know what else to do.
I think dogs suffer from depression too. I would consult with a vet. There are medications for this.
You must make sure that you don't favour the new puppy & ignore the older one as this will isolate him even more. Every time you pay attention to or cuddle the wee pup you must also do it with the older dog. Walk them & play with them together.
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I had litter mate Bouvier des Flandes (male and female). The male was put to sleep on October 27th, 2008 and the female has not eaten very much since then. When she does eat, she vomits it back up. I have tried just about everything I have read on the internet, except to get a new dog. Please help me. What can I do?
My Border Collie had a similar reaction after the death of my husband. Try feeding him while you eat and close to you. He is very sad and lonely and needs to feel close to someone. Maybe even go as far as to sit on the ground to eat and then lots of love and relaxing after. Dogs get depressed too. As a last resort for my dog I had my vet prescribe Zanex for a couple of months as my dog also developed anxiety problems. This helped a lot to. Best of luck. (12/01/2008)
I had a similar problem when my female Chow died. Her pal our younger Golden Retriever would not eat anything or drink water out of their communal water bowls both inside and out. I tried different foods, but nothing worked and he would eat very little if at all.
I went to Petco and asked one of the workers there if they had any ideas of what to do. The girl suggested that I buy all new water and food dishes which I did and it worked. Sounds crazy, but it worked. (12/02/2008)
We had the same experience. I have been hand feeding my dog for 10 months now. She has never gotten over the lose of her life time buddy. I sit in the floor and she eats out of my hand. (12/02/2008)
Hand feeding and sitting with the dog are good ideas. However, you may want to take her to the vet to rule out any medical problem that happens to be coincidental to the loss of her companion. (12/02/2008)
We experienced this problem too. What worked for our surviving dog was to feed her small amounts of real meat for a while. Then, we mixed the cooked beef/chicken in her dog food, and continued to have more dog food, less meat, until she was back on her normal diet.
Be patient, it takes a while. Your dog is truly grieving and who knows how long it might take for them to come around. Please talk to your vet, too. As mentioned above, there are medications to help during this period of adjustment.
So sorry to hear about your loss. We also are going through the same kind of sadness, our Lab mix, Suzie, was put to sleep on Dec. 6 and her "brother", Toby, has been grieving, too. He didn't eat for several days, but is back to his usual diet now.
We put all of Suzie's dishes away, they ate separately. It's important to keep them on the same routine, but just know that they grieve, too. Toby is not the same dog and I know from previous experience he never will be after losing his sister. Be patient, feed him broth, baby food, poached chicken, canned dog food, whatever you can tempt him with.
But also do check with the vet. Our girl, who died, also quit eating and she was very ill with a tumor in her chest, so check out that part first. So sorry for you, it hurts a lot, I cry every day over my lost Suzie. (01/26/2009)