Ten Tips on Coping with the Loss of Your Pet

By: Ryan Loyd Email
By: Ryan Loyd Email

Ten Tips on Coping with the Loss of Your Pet

Moira Anderson Allen, M.Ed.

1) Intense grief over the loss of a pet is normal, don't let anyone tell you that it's silly.

2) Expect to feel guilt ("if only I had been more careful"); denial, anger, depression. All of these feelings are normal.

3) Be honest about your feelings. Don't deny pain, you have the right to feel pain and grief.

4) Talk. Your loved ones will know what you're going through, and they will know how important your pet was to you.

5) Your vet will be the best judge to tell if your pet's physical condition is grave enough for euthanasia, but you are the best judge of the quality of your pet's life. If your pet has a good appetite, responds to attention, and participates in play or family life, many owners feel that it may not be time. Evaluate your pet's health carefully.

6) Some people wonder if they should stay during euthanasia. For some, it's the ultimate gesture of love and comfort. For many, though, not staying (and not seeing the body) makes it more difficult to accept that the pet is really gone. But it can be traumatic.

7) How to handle the remains: it may seem easy to leave the pet at the clinic for disposal. Check with your clinic to find more information for it. Home burial is also a popular choice, or if you prefer, you can choose a pet cemetery that provides a sense of dignity.

8) Telling children about the loss may be difficult. Just be honest with them if you feel they are able to understand and cope with the news. Don't underestimate your children. The term, "Put to sleep" may also be confusing for them to understand. Allow your child to grieve as well.

9) Your other pets will grieve because they will know that something has changed int he household. Pets form strong bonds with other animals in the home. Give your surviving pet lots of extra attention. If you are going to introduce a new pet, allow them to begin to form a bond. Understand that it may take a while for that bond to form.

10) It's up to you if you would like to get a new pet right away. Remember, you aren't replacing the pet you just lost. Generally, the answer is "No," do not get a pet right away. You need time to work through the stages of grief. When you do get a new pet, avoid a look-alike. Don't expect your new pet to be just like the one you lost. Allow it to develop its own personality.

For more information, visit the Pet Loss Support website at http://www.pet-loss.net.

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