Coping with the Loss of your Pet
On behalf of everyone at Heart of Oregon Veterinary Cardiology, we offer our deepest condolences and we are here to listen and offer strength as you go through this difficult time. As pet lovers ourselves, we understand that the bonds we create with our pets are great and their loss can be heartbreaking. It’s normal to grieve in the same way one would for a family member, and it is okay to grieve in whatever way feels right to you.
While grief is a personal experience, you don’t need to face your loss alone. Many forms of support are available, including pet-bereavement counseling services, pet-loss support hotlines, local or online pet-bereavement groups, books, videos, and magazine articles.
Here are a few suggestions to help you cope:
- Acknowledge your grief and give yourself permission to express it.
- Don’t hesitate to reach out to others who can lend a sympathetic ear. If you need support beyond the sympathetic ear of a friend or family member, you can receive help from Dove Lewis Pet Loss Support program. Call (503) 234-2061 or visit http://www.dovelewis.org/community-services/pet-loss-support/.
- Make a donation in your pet’s name as a personal remembrance to honor your kindred spirit’s life.
- Plant a tree in your pet’s name as a lasting tribute.
- Prepare a memorial for your pet and host a remembrance of life as you share your memories of your pet. Heart of Oregon Veterinary Cardiology hosts a yearly secular remembrance ceremony to allow our staff and clients to share in saying goodbye to our patients whom we also come to love. We offer cremation services through Dignified Pet Services (http://dignifiedpetservices.com/index.php) which include the respectful treatment of your pet’s body and the collection of ashes. We recommend spreading or burying those ashes in a place meaningful to you and your pet.
- Write about your feelings, either in a journal, blog, poem, essay, or short story.
- Help your child understand and grieve with some tips from Veterinarians.
Caring for Other Pets While Grieving
Pets experience loss in similar ways as humans do, so it’s important to acknowledge their grief and care for them with extra loving support. Try to give surviving pets lots of extra love and attention, and try to maintain a normal routine.
Surviving pets may whimper, refuse to eat or drink, and show signs of lethargy, especially if they had a close bond with your deceased pet. If your remaining pets continue to act out of sorts, contact your family veterinarian to ensure there isn’t a medical issue.
If you’ve compassionately chosen euthanasia as the best end-of-life decision for your pet, you have the option to do it in the hospital or at home. In the hospital your pet receives a series of medications for a painless, peaceful departure.
For at-home euthanasia, we recommend the following services: