How to Cope with a loss
The death of a pet is more difficult to deal with than you expect. People often say "oh its just an animal." But the bond between you and your pet is as strong as a human to human bond. The loss of my pets have been just as difficult as losing a fellow person.
Remember that it is normal to grieve. Don't let people tell you to get over it. With time the pain recedes. The amount of time may vary from person to person. Don't suppress your emotions. Let it out.
There are several stages of grieving you should be aware of. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Understanding your emotions will help you get through each stage. Each person will spend a unique amount of time in each stage. It is not a one size fits all.
In the first stage of grieving you may be overcome with emotion and do not want to accept what has transpired. Loss is irreversible and we never want to let go. It is especially tough if the death occurred suddenly. If your pet had a chronic terminal illness you can prepare yourself overtime and spread out the pain of loss. Whether you had to euthanize your pet or if it was a natural death, the grieving is similar. With an acute unexpected death you experience the pain all at once. A huge rush of emotions will make you feel weak and hopeless in life.
It is then natural to become angry and look for someone orsomething to blame. You may repetitiously think about the same things to a point of obsession. Realize that this anger is normal and finding fault in yourself or others is likely just part of the emotional process but you must come to peace with the loss. Most of the time there is no one to blame. Unfortunately death happens when we don’t want it to.
Once the anger has passed you may attempt bargaining with a higher power to get your loved one back and then depression sets in when you comprehend the loss as permanent. Depression can often last a while. A good support system and a person to talk to can help you through depression. An understanding friend or family member can be there for you. If you don’t have anyone to talk to you can contact one of the many pet loss hotlines.
Memorializing your pet also helps with closure and is the start of acceptance of their loss. Photos, urns, a funeral, tombstone, or other memorializing keepsakes are all things that people use to fill this purpose. Some people like the idea of keeping their pet’s ashes and other people don’t want to keep them. It is a very personal decision with no right or wrong answer.
Coping with a loss is not easy. Don’t rush to get to the acceptance stage of grieving. Experience the emotions but do not let them consume you. You still need to take care of yourself by eating healthy, exercising and sleeping. You never get over a loss but you learn to live with it.
By: Dr. Aileen Lugo
Pet Doctor at Home
Peaceful Home Euthanasia
It is hard to resist giving your pet a lick of ice cream or some table scraps. How harmful is it really? The main problem I have is that you probably aren't brushing your dog's teeth twice daily. And if you are brushing, how effectively are you getting under the gumline and removing plaque buildup before it becomes tartar? 70-80% of all dogs have periodontal disease. The mouth is a hidden world in dogs. Few people venture in to take a look.
A lot of teeth end up rotting out or can cause chronic pain if not identified. It is the nature of dogs to hide signs of pain and often a lot of them suffer in silence. There can be disease that hides below the gumline that we cannot see from the outside. Dental xrays are important to completely identify the extent of the disease.
The other problem with table scraps is gastrointestinal distress. If your pet is not used to a food it may cause some intestinal issues.
Avoid high fat foods since it can cause pancreatitis, which can sometimes be severe and require hospitalization. Miniature schnauzers and other small breed dogs are predisposed to this disease. Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. When the pancreas gets angy it causes abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. It sometimes can randomly occur but the common trigger is a high fat meal.
I won't discuss weight control, but that is another problem.
I hate to be a downer but if you ask me, I have to tell you not to give table scraps or buy your pet ice cream.
Moral of the story is to brush your dog's teeth twice daily and avoid candy.
DO dogs Grieve?
Dogs definitely experience loss just like people do. Dogs are social animals and when their companion suddenly is not with them anymore they feel the void.
Dogs do not go through the exact same stages of grief as humans such as denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and finally acceptance. But they do experience denial, depression and acceptance.
If you had an at home euthanasia or if your other companion was present during the passing of your pet then the denial stage for dogs passes a litte quicker than if your other pet just leaves one day and does not return. It is difficult for dogs to comprehend if their companion just left temporarily or not. If they get to identify the deceased body I believe it hastens the denial phase.
Either way your dog may feel hopeful as though their companion will return, but after a couple days they start to realize the permanent loss and becomes depressed. This period of depression can vary. There are many factors that influence the length of grieving for dogs such as if there are other companions in the house, the depth of the bond, how long they were paired, etc. A period of depression is normal. It is fairly common for your grieving dog to stop eating, not participate in the things he/she usually enjoys doing, and pacing around the house. Sometimes you will wonder if your dog is grieving or if he is sick, since mental anguish can often mimick signs of physical illness in pets. If the reduced appetite persists more than a few days it is best to have your companion checked out by a veterinarian just to be on the safe side.
How long the grieving will take is unique to each individual. At some point, you and your pet will come to peace with the loss of your beloved companion. The memories will always be there. People or dogs never really move on, but we finally accept.
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