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The loss of a pet can be devastating. Today, we discover why we grieve our pets and how to deal with the loss.

Why the loss of a pet is so hard?

Our pets are our family and losing them is hard. We lose the routine we had when they were alive and we lose their company. It is therefore normal to feel lonely or even depressed after the loss, especially when the pet that has passed was lively and made his presence known.

We outlive our pets

A furkid’s lifespan can be anywhere between 8 and 15 years. Some pass away earlier from illness or an unfortunate incident, while others live to see that second decade. However, it is always important to keep in mind that like human life and death, pet life and death is both unavoidable and unpredictable.

It is not your fault

It is human nature to blame yourself for the loss of your pet, especially when the loss occurred as a result of an accident. If you are struggling to cope with the reasons for the loss of a pet, speak to your veterinarian or a psychologist.

Dealing with the loss

Allow yourself time to grieve

Don’t rush out for a ‘replacement pet’. If you bring a replacement pet into your home before you have fully come to terms with your loss, your new pet will not get the start he or she deserves. One day, when the time is right, you will bring a wonderful bundle of joy into your home again. And when you do, remember that every furkid is unique. Your new pet, whether he is the same breed or size as your previous pet, will not be a replacement but a new and once again irreplaceable addition to the family.

Don’t hide your grief

If your immediate family and friends do not understand your grief, find a support group or speak to a psychologist. Your grief is normal and no one should tell you that it is not because it is “just a dog” or “just a cat” that died.

This is an extract of a study that featured in an article on Cesar’s Way:

Back in 2017, “The New England Journal of Medicine” reported that after suffering the loss of her dog, a woman experienced what is known as “broken heart syndrome,” which is a condition where the grief response is so severe that the symptoms a person experiences mimic those of a heart attack – these include hormone levels that can be elevated up to 30 times greater than normal.

Cesar’s Way, 2019

Take time to make decisions

The loss of a pet always seems as if it happened too fast. It is therefore advisable to take time to make decisions that will potentially influence the grieving process. One such decision is what to do with the remains. If you cannot decide on what to do with the immediately after your furkid passes away, ask your veterinarian to explain what each process entails so that you can make the right decision for you and your family.

Should you go to work after the loss of a pet?

Many of us feel reluctant to tell our employer that we need time off because we have lost a pet. However, if taking time off to be with your furkid during his last days or the days immediately after he passed away will help ease your grief, then you should definitely consider it. Nowadays, employers are obliged to respected privacy and employees’ personal time, which makes it easier to take leave for personal reasons than what is was only a few years ago.

Is it easier to make the decision to put your pet to sleep?

This is not a question that one can answer for everyone. Some find it easier when the decision to reduce any prolonged suffering was theirs, whereas others cannot make the decision to euthanize and find it easier when life takes its natural course. Again, this is something that a good vet can help you with. Additionally, support groups and psychologists may also be able to help you with difficult decisions and coping with the stress.

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