Click here to learn more.
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!
Thank You For Signing Up
for the Petwire newsletter, sending you all the pet news each week directly to your inbox.
Get the latest pet news, tips, tricks, and expert advice sent right to your inbox!
Dogs and service animals traveling through Detroit Metro Airport can now do their business at its pup-friendly…
Bella saved her 2-week-old foal's life when she stood over her baby to shield her from the flames in their barn.
We polled Vetstreet readers and veterinary professionals to see if they drift off to sleep with their cat or dog…
Want to make some enemies in your vet’s waiting room? This funny new video from Dr. Andy Roark shows you how.
From vacuums and blenders to ceiling fans and aluminum foil, here are common and bizarre things that scare animals.
The silky-coated Burmese is a compact but heavy feline who loves to show off his impressive athletic skills.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.