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.
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.
When walking through wooded areas it is important to keep your dog on good quality monthly tick prevention. Ticks wait patiently on the ends of vegetation and when an unsuspecting animal (or person) walks by the tick attaches itself. Baby ticks, nymphs, are very small, less than 2mm, and difficult to see. They are more likely to spread disease than other larger stages of ticks. You won't even be able to detect the bite because they sneakily use a local numbing agent.
There are several diseases that can be spread by ticks such as Lyme disease, Ehrlichia, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and more. Lyme disease is the fastest spreading tick borne disease. It can infect dogs but illness is usually worse in people.
Make sure to do a thorough tick check on your pet and yourself after walking through a wooded area. Prevention is key.
There is a large overpopulation of cats in our world. Unfortunatly many are susceptible to disease and trauma. It is common for stray cats to get attacked by other animals or get hit by a car.
Targeted spay/neuter can reduced the population of a geographic area. At least 75% of the cats within a certain location must be sterilized to have an impact on reducing cat numbers. There are many dedicated trappers that have a mission to help stray cats in the TNR programs (Feline Trap Neuter and Return). This program is the best method to ensure cats are treated well and returned to a safe location.
Pet Doctor at Home, has a mobile surgery unit that can go to the areas in need. Dr. Lugo is equipped to do 30 cat surgeries per day. We want to help reduce the overpopulation.
The loss of a pet is unexpectedly difficult to cope with. The bond we share with our companion animals is so strong that the emotions of loss rival that of human loss. Not everyone sees it that way and may say to you, it is just a dog or cat, get over it. But no, they are a family member and you should be sad and take your time to grieve. Grieving goes on for a long time. Only time will heal.
There are different stages and emotions that you will experience: denial, sadness, anger. At some point acceptance but this will not occur overnight.
People may say, just get a new pet. There is not replacement though. Trying to coverup your emotions of loss with the excitement of a new pet will give your brain mixed signals. I do not recommend that. You have to be ready emotionally to get a new pet.
Memorializing your pet can preserve your memories and can help with closure. Some do it by a with a funeral, a gravestone, an urn with ashes, a photo album, paw prints. You are welcome to post your memorial to our facebook site so your pet can live on and be shared with our community of pet lovers.
If your friends or family are not understanding and supportive of your grief, there are several resources to reach out to.
For bereavement resources you can visit:
We will be thinking of your pet.
It is never easy to make the decision to put your loving pet to sleep. Is now the right time? Dr. Lugo can help you through the decision making process. It is a unique situation for each pet and family.
When the time does come, it is much more peaceful and calming in your home instead of in a vet office with strange smells and lots of other animals around. The last thing you want is for your pet to be stressed in his/her final moments.
If you need counseling on your decision please reach out to Dr. Lugo at 954-372-5536 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about our home pet euthanasia services click on the following link
This can be one of the worst problems if your beloved kitties urinates inside the house and ruins your new bedspread. Cats don’t do this out of spite, there is a medical or behavior issue at hand.
Make sure your pet is fixed. Intact cats have a tendency to spray inside. Medical issues must be ruled out by a veterinarian. Urinary tract inflammation, bladder stones, diabetes, kidney disease and in rare cases tumors can cause a change to urinary habits.
The biggest problem is stress which often is not easy for a person to identify. A weird sound near the litter box is sometimes enough to cause a cat to avoid that are. Cats can sense other cats outside and can be a perceived threat to them. Chronic stress causes some neuro-hormonal imbalances that leads to urinary bladder inflammation similar to irritable bowel syndrome in people. This especially can be a problem with multiple cats living in the same house. Cats are territorial and each cat needs a couple rooms to themselves to feel safe. The litter box rule is the amount of cats plus one. So if you have 2 cats, then three litter boxes all in different rooms (and separate feeding areas) are necessary to make cats psychologically sound. Cats can become bored and this can also lead to stress. Make sure to provide enrichment such as toys, food puzzles, and spend time playing with your cats as well.
Also remember to scoop litter daily. Cats don’t like a dirty box. Clean the entire box weekly. Most cats don’t prefer a covered box. The box should be 1.5 times the length of the cat. Make the litter box an attractive place to go and the spot they urinate outside the box an unattractive place. If a cat pees on a bed, temporarily put a plastic sheet with upside down tape on top. Most cats do not prefer this texture and at the same time protects the bed.
It is not always easy to accomodate the needs of cats but in 75% of cases from my experience simple changes listed above can solve the problem.
Dr. Aileen Lugo
Pet Doctor At Home
Just as people should go to the doctor and dentist regularly for a checkup you should do the same for your pet. The goal is to detect a problem at early stages before it becomes a big issue. It is the nature of dogs and cats to hide signs of disease because in the wild any sign of weakness was a vulnerability. So even if your pet is acting normal it still could have an illness developing. By the time they show symptoms it can be far advanced.
A thorough exam and wellness lab testing can often uncover problems. There is a better prognosis and less cost associated with treatment when diseases are detected in early stages. Each pet evaluation is specifically tailored to your their breed, age, and lifestyle. Certain breeds have genetic predispositions that are taken into account.
Even if lab testing is normal, this baseline data provides great information. This is analyzed yearly looking for trends or unexpected changes. Make a point to get your pet checked yearly and twice yearly for geriatric pets.
By Dr. Aileen Lugo
Pet Doctor At Home
About 70% of dogs and cats have periodontal disease, which is inflammation and infection of the gum tissue surrounding the teeth. This disease mostly goes unnoticed until you observe a bad smell coming from your pet’s mouth.
After a pet eats a film builds on the tooth. Over time bacteria colonize and tartar forms which mineralizes onto the tooth. Once contacting the gums, bacteria penetrates and the immune system responds. Inflammation occurs and leads to bone loss and gum recession. The infection can then spread to other organs and contribute to distant disease. Not only does it locally cause pain and infection but overall health is affected.
What can you do about it? Start off by brushing your pet’s teeth daily with dog or cat friendly toothpaste. Human toothpaste will cause stomach problems. Begin slowly and build up overtime. Most pets at first will not accept brushing but with positive reinforcement you can teach them to be receptive. Water additives and oral sprays are not that effective and cannot replace the mechanical action of brushing.
People often give chew toys or dental chews to help clean the teeth. This can help a little but a lot of hard chew toys actually chip or fracture a tooth. If you cannot indent your fingernail into the chew toy then it is too hard and may do damage.
Along with daily care it is important to have a professional cleaning performed. The only effective way to do this is under anesthesia. This way the tooth can be thoroughly cleaned under the gumline and teeth accessed in the back of the mouth. Most importantly dental xrays are performed which allows us to see under the gumline and assess the root structures. A lot of disease can be detected and addressed. This is why the mouth is a hidden world, a lot of pathology is noted under the gumline that people are never aware of.
Nonanesthetic dental cleanings are only cosmetic procedures and they cannot address the disease that is present. They clean the crown of the tooth but cannot access the inner surface of the teeth or back molars well enough to prevent further periodontal disease progression. Nor can dental xrays be performed in an awake animal. Combating disease is the whole point of a dental procedure.
It is the nature of dogs and cats to hide signs of pain. But we know that a fractured tooth of inflamed gums can be chronically painful.
Twice yearly checkups are important to assess your pet’s oral health status
By: Aileen Lugo
Pet Doctor At Home