Pet death is an inevitable part of pet ownership because of their relatively short life span. Despite the inevitability of the death of a companion animal, it may be one of the most significant losses an owner experiences due to the depth of the human-animal bond. For many people the death of their pet is less stressful than the death of a human member of their immediate family, but more stressful than the death of other relatives. As a result of the emotional and social relationships, their death elicits strong feelings that often parallel the grief response to the loss of a human companion. Up to 75% of owners experience difficulties of disruptions in their lives after pets die.
Sometimes the death of a pet can be very unexpected, the result of a car accident or sudden illness. Other times, the very emotional decision of Euthanasia has to be taken. Letting go of a treasured companion is never easy and our vets will guide you about when the time is right.
The loss of a pet may have many more implications other than the loss of companionship.
The absence of the pet often creates secondary disruptions resulting in the loss of enjoyable past times such as walking the dog or a loss of emotional support that a pet offered.
The loss of a pet may leave a lot of unanswered questions, particularly if the pet died unexpectedly or without known cause. This is also the case with pets who go missing or who have been surrendered to Welfare Societies and who’s fate is unknown. In these situations it is unclear when an owner should stop asking questions and should accept the loss of the pet.
One overlooked area of pet loss is known as symbolic loss where the pet represented a last link with special people now departed. The pet’s death removes those links and old losses are re-grieved in conjunction with current ones. Grief due to symbolic loss is often very intense.
Grief is an almost inevitable consequence of pet loss. There are many myths relating to grief that actually prolong the grieving process – such as remaining strong and composed, or staying busy after pet loss.