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Life can change drastically for a pet that loses the companionship of another pet or a human. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals conducted a study, which found that 66 percent of dogs exhibited four or more behavioral changes after losing a pet companion. As animals move into the steps of acknowledging and acceptance of the death, they will possibly stop eating, playing, or interacting with others. It can be very hard to deal with a pet that is grieving because, in most cases, other family members are also dealing with the loss of a loved one. Helping your dog adjust to this loss will help you at the same time.














By Tim Dawson (Flickr: Sad Lucy) [CC BY-SA 2.0
(], via Wikimedia Commons


Signs of grieving:


  • Loss of appetite

  • Less vocalizations and barking

  • Acting very tired or lethargic

  • Loss of interest in taking a walk or playing

  • Changes in the quantity and location of sleep

  • Some pets become more affectionate and clingy with their caregivers



How can I help my pet deal with grief?



  • Give them the opportunity to say good-bye. It is important that your pet realizes that his/her friend passed away. If possible, give your pet the opportunity to see the dead friend, if this is not possible get a clipping of the pet’s hair and allow the other animal to sniff this. Animals can smell the scent of death and this will serve as a confirmation of the death for the surviving animal, which is the first step in the process of grieving.

    You can also allow the remaining pet have an object that belonged to the dead pet such as a blanket or a toy. Over time the surviving pet will be able to heal and get back to his/her normal routine.


  • Take grief seriously. Closely monitor your pets as they grieve. One of the most noticeable signs is the loss of appetite and this may lead to serious health conditions. For example, cats that do not eat for more than 24 hours are at risk of developing a serious and potentially fatal condition known as feline hepatic lipidosis.

    Try to stimulate your pet’s appetitive and take your pet to the vet if he/she refuses to eat for more than 24 hours. Grieving can also decrease your pet’s immune response and predispose him/her to infectious diseases.


  • Keep routines unchanged. You can help
    the other pets in the household by
    keeping their routines as unchanged
    as possible. This will make them feel
    in a safe and stable environment.


  • Do more things together. Increasing
    their activity, through going for walks
    or playing with toys, may also be helpful.
    This will not only benefit your pet, but it will help you too. You can also create rituals that your pet can look forward to each day. For example, spend 15 minutes grooming your pet or playing with him/her every day at the same hour.



  • Healing for the whole family. Your pet can feel if you are sad; for this reason, it is important that you and other family members grief and accept the lost of a loved one together with your pet. Take the time that is needed to accept your loss and work through grief.

Should I bring another pet home?


Before getting another dog it is important that all the family members are emotionally ready. Human beings tend to experience the emotion of denial before they can acknowledge the death of a loved one. Replacing the pet right away may seem like an easy solution. However, bringing a new animal into a household that’s still grieving is not a wise thing to do. If we do this, our pets may become stuck in grief and depression. Once the grieving process has ended, you may want to consider adding a new member to the family, but keep in mind that most pets can adapt and live emotionally healthy lives without a companion of the same species.




Diamond-Davis, K. The Canine Behavior Series. Grieing: When Your Dog Mourns the Loss of Another Dog. Retrieved on January 1, 2016 from:


Kuhn, S. Helping your dog grieve: What to do when he looses a buddy. Retrieved on January 1, 2016 from:


Krieger, M. 7 Ways to Help Your Cat Through a Grieving Period. Retrieved on January 1, 2016 from:


Pet Angel Memorial Center. Helping Your Pet Through the Grieving Process. Retrieved on January 1, 2016 from:


Pet Psychic

Healing Your Pets Grief

Dr. Stephanie Flansburg-Cruz

Dr. Stephanie Flansburg-Cruz practices mixed animal veterinary medicine and she has a special interested in shelter medicine and animal welfare. Stephanie enjoys volunteering at local animal shelters, reading, writing and traveling.

Stephanie Flansburg-Cruz, MVZ, MA


Thank you for reading


Canine Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder


Can Dogs Suffer From Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?


The National Institute of Mental Health defines Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
as “an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat.”


It has been observed that many combat-deployed military working dogs present exaggerated responses to certain environmental conditions, behaviors aimed at escaping or avoiding previously positive or neutral environments, changes in social interaction with their human handler and failure in the performance of previously mastered tasks.


The combination of these signs in dogs that have been exposed to stressful conditions has been denominated as Canine Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD). Common causes of C-PTSD may include car accidents, household accidents, physical or emotional abuse, and negative interactions with other dogs or other animals.


Dogs suffering from C-PTSD will show signs of anxiety or stress when they are exposed to certain environmental conditions that may resemble the traumatic event.



Some signs of C-PTSD are:


  • Anxiety and stress signs. Some dogs will display signs of anxiety, such as, tail down or between legs, ears back, dilated pupils and panting.


  • Displacement behavior. Dogs who suffer C-PTSD may show normal behaviors displayed out of context, which is known as displacement behavior. Some examples of this kind of behavior are shaking when not wet, sudden scratching without itch and yawning when not tired.


  • Attempts to escape. When a dog feels anxious she/he will try to get out of the situation. They may pull at their leash, pull towards an exit, or try to climb into the handler’s arms.



The fact that a dog presents the above-mentioned signs does not mean that he/she suffers C-PTSD. The final diagnosis depends on the severity and frequency of the signs. If you believe that your dog is suffering from C-PTSD, or your dog displays some of these signs and they are getting worse then please seek assistance from a veterinarian and an animal behavior specialist in your area.
















                                                                             By Mdk572 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0
                                                       (], via Wikimedia Commons



Treatment of C-PTSD will vary depending on the severity of the signs. Some animals will show improvement after various training sessions, while other animals may need prescribed medications. Therapy often includes environmental and social enrichment, as well as, desensitization training. Working dogs will probably need time off work.


Nutritional supplements such as Omega-3 fatty acids, L-theanine and melatonin can be helpful in treating C-PTSD just as they are for other forms of anxiety disorder in dogs. Many cases will need a combination of training and drug therapy. Antidepressant drugs have been used to treat military dogs who suffer C-PTSD with positive results.


It is important to consult with your veterinarian and a local trainer or animal behaviorist to develop the best plan for you and your dog to get the best possible results.


Is it curable?



Some animals seem to return to normal after treatment, however, some dogs will need behavioral and/or medical management throughout their lives.










Huntingford, J. (2012). Post Traumatic Stress Disorder In Dogs. Retrieved on January 2 from:


Pajer. N. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Can it affect your dog? Retrieved on January 2 from:


The DDOC Foundation. What is Canine Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder? Retrieved on January 2 from:


Burghardt, W.F. (2013). Preliminary Evaluation of Case Series of Military Working Dogs Affected with Canine Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (N=14). Presented at the Veterinary Behavior Symposium 2013. Retrieved on January 2 from:



dog pet psychic
dog pet psychic
Dr. Stephanie Flansburg-Cruz

Dr. Stephanie Flansburg-Cruz practices mixed animal veterinary medicine and she has a special interested in shelter medicine and animal welfare. Stephanie enjoys volunteering at local animal shelters, reading, writing and traveling.

Stephanie Flansburg-Cruz, MVZ, MA


Thank you for reading

Cat Familiars: Every Witch Needs One!



                                                   For some Halloween fun, let's look at some history                                                    and myths about Cat Familiars!      

                                                  Cats as familiars have a long and dark history in                                                     western mythology. These cats often found their                                                       way into literature. One of the most famous was                                                       Grimalkin, the witches' cat from Shakespeare's                                                         Mac Beth. Cats as witch's companions                                                                   are still a part of the populare symbology                                                   associated with the modern holiday of Halloween.




What is a familiar?


In western mythology, a familiar was an animal companion given by the devil to a witch in order to help her with her evil magic. These familiars would have names just like any other pet. In the middle ages, if you were caught talking to your pet (like a lot of people do) you were considered to be consorting with the devil. Obviously, you must be a witch communing  with your familiar.


The Middle Ages were a very dark and violent period in Europe. The alternative name "Dark Ages" should come as no surprise. Learning was confined to clergy and nobility. The general population was therefore quite ignorant and prone to superstition. The church itself often perpetuated these superstitions as facts.


SLXL                                                                                                                          A witches familiar could be any type of animals the

                                           such as a toad, dog or cat. Black cats became                                                        traditionally cited companion and hence cats became

                                                   particularly reviled. In 1233 Pope Gregory IX wrote his                                            Papal Bull "Vox in Rama" which actually denounced                                                black cats as satanic.


                                            The Popes' proclamation began the persecution of cats                                             all over Europe. Thousands and thousands of cats were                                             burned alive in the attempt to drive out the evil Satan.

                                           Wild tales of these cats shape shifting into other                                                       creatures were common among the populace and justified these terrible acts in their minds. When the power of the Knights Templar was broken, some of the knights were said to have confessed to worshiping cats.


As these so-called confessions were given under extreme torture, they would seem to speak more to the attitudes of their inquisitors than to anything the Templars themselves had actually done.


Why were black cats in particular singled out?


There are a couple of legends that might explain this singular revulsion. In the first legend, the story goes that cats who were born at the end of blackberry season were called blackberry cats. According to this legend, the end of blackberry season coincides with the expulsion of Satan from heaven. When he fell he landed on a blackberry bush which he defiled with his urine and spit. Thus, blackberry cats, especially black ones are associated with the devil in this tale.


The second tale comes from Italy. The Italian witches, called streghe, tell a legend about Diana goddess of the moon also called "Queen of the Witches". Her brother who was known in ancient times as Apollo is renamed Lucifer (Light Bearer) in this tale. Supposedly, Diana wanted to have a son by Lucifer, so she attempted to trick him by taking the shape of a black cat.

















As you can see, these stories were pretty wild, and yet the people of those Dark Ages took them as the gospel truth. After all, it was the church that was telling them.



The irony of this superstitious hysteria against cats was that by destroying the cats the Europeans nearly destroyed themselves. Cats had been used for centuries to keep down the population of vermin, especially mice, and rats. When their predators were destroyed, the vermin population exploded.


Rats ate large amounts of grain that had been meant for human consumption resulting in widespread hunger among the people. Even worse than the hunger was the enormous numbers of rats became disease carriers. The worst of these diseases was the Bubonic plague, otherwise known as the Black Death.


The Plagues of the Middle Ages were a terrible instance of the repercussions that can befall humans due to misplaced zeal.
















Superstitions of cats especially black cats continue today. Many still fear them as witches familiars, they shudder when one crosses their path, and some believe that cats may be able to see the specter of death.


SLXLWhile cats are quite psychic and do often see the spirits of the dead, they are in no way evil or dangerous.


Let’s remember there are also many positive superstitions in regards to our little furry, purry, friends. Such as the old Buddhist superstition that says a light colored cat will bring silver to the home of the owner, while a dark colored cat brings gold. In America to see a white cat on the road is considered lucky, and let us not forget the fine English superstition - whenever the cat of the house is black, the lasses will have no lack of lovers.

So this Halloween give a shout out to your favorite cat familiar- its OK the inquisition can't harm you now!

                                       Thank you for Reading

                                                   Have a Great Halloween!

In loving memory of Marmy gone too soon,
and Smoky my first wonderful cat familiar.

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