2001-Mon Jan 21 13:15:35 EST 2019
Vetstreet. All rights reserved. Powered by Brightspot.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
After more than 30 years as a practicing veterinarian, and many, many personal losses, I’ve learned some strategies that can help pet owners who are dealing with the loss of a beloved companion. While we veterinarians do everything we can to keep your pet healthy and happy, euthanasia is often a necessary — and very difficult — part of our job. But we are all proud of this part of our work; we not only ease suffering, but we are almost alone in the medical field in actively ending pain, often at great emotional toll to ourselves.
My professional familiarity with death means I also know a great deal about grief — my own, of course, and also that of the families whose pets I have looked after throughout their lives. Helping those who remain behind is also part of my work, and over the years, I have learned a few useful strategies for coping with this loss.
In general, grown-ups don’t like to cry in public, and we don’t like to share how much we’re hurting. But it’s extremely important to remind yourself that love is love and that loving a pet is no different from loving a person — and when you lose your pet, you will feel like crying. Your feelings are not wrong, and you need time to work through your grief. Don’t try to minimize the bond you and your pet shared. No matter what anyone else says or thinks or what you were raised to believe, I am confident that your pet loved you, truly. Let yourself believe this, too, and don’t rush to “get over it.” You can’t hurry grief, so be kind to yourself and let yourself feel what’s in your heart.
Losing someone we love can be exhausting, emotionally and physically. While you are grieving, it's important that you eat well and get enough sleep. You’ll do better in the short run — and certainly in the long run — if you look after your own health right now. Stick to healthy, good foods, and resist the impulse to go for the junk because it’s there and it’s easy. Comfort food can be good food, too, of course — but again, try to stick with healthy choices and appropriate portions. And don't be afraid to touch base with your doctor if you feel yourself struggling to get back to normal. Don’t try to “gut it out” — experts say you’ll just prolong your grief.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Bartonella is a type bacteria that can be transmitted to cats, dogs and humans from exposure to infected fleas and…
Want to give your pup yummy, low-calorie treats? We’ve got the skinny on which foods are OK to feed him.
Not sure about food puzzles? Our veterinarian reveals why the payoff for your pet is well worth any extra work.
With these simple dental care tips, you can help keep your canine’s adorable smile shiny and healthy for life.
The friendly and inquisitive LaPerm has an easy-care coat that comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.