Dealing With the Loss of a Pet
Losing a pet is almost as difficult for some people as losing a loved one. It’s a devastating loss that can lead to weeks, months, or even years of sadness and depression.
For people who have developed a strong bond with their pets, coping with the loss can be a devastating experience. Sometimes, the pain can linger for the rest of their lives. Over time, the pain decreases and they can be happy again. The adjustment period for everyone is different and depends heavily on the circumstances surrounding the pet’s death. For those whose beloved pet suffered from some disease that caused them constant pain for many months or years, they often have the comfort of knowing that their pet is not in pain anymore, so they can begin letting go earlier. For those whose pet is gone unexpectedly, the sadness can last even longer because they have to come to terms with the death.
To children, the loss of a pet is probably their first experience with death and they may not understand. When explaining death to children, try to use real words like “death” and “dying” instead of euphemisms that will only confuse them more. Be very clear with children that death is a permanent thing, not reversible, otherwise they may go on with the false hope that their pet may come back.
When it comes to handling your pet’s remains, there are a few options. You can choose to bury your pet at home, at a special pet cemetary, or have the pet cremated. Once you receive the ashes, you can spread the ashes (if it’s legal) across a place your pet loved, or keep them in a pet urn or cremation jewelry. Some vets provide these services, but you can also have a company do it. There are some veterinary offices that take your pet’s body from you.
The best way to start feeling better about your pet’s loss is to try and focus on the good things it has brought you. Remember the happy memories, the loyal companionship, and the endless hours of fun. Focusing on the good helps you start to heal faster. Many people choose to get another pet soon after they lose one.
Pet Loss Support Hotlines:
- UC David School Of Veterinary Medicine: (530)752-3602 or (800)565-1526
- Cornell Pet Loss Support Hotline: (607)253-3932
- College Of Veterinary Medicine Hotline: (517)432-2696
- Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine: (630)325-1600
- University Of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine: (215)898-5529
- University of California School of Veterinary Medicine: (916)752-7481
- University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine: (612)624-4747
- Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine (303)221-4535
- Washington State University School of Veterinary Medicine: (509)335-1297
- Ohio State University Companion Animal Listening: (614)292-1823
- Tuft’s University Pet Loss Support Hotline: (508)839-7966
- University Of Illinois C.A.R.E. Pet Loss Hotline: (217)244-2273
Further Resources on Losing a Pet: