When a pet dies, it’s like losing a member of the family. Fortunately,there are resources to help you cope with the sorrow. Susan McVie has to put her dog to sleep after discovering he had cancer. She said,
“Everywhere I went, he was behind me. if I walked from one room to the
other and I had to stop because I forgot something, he would bang into
the back of my legs. I promised him when I first knew this was gonna’
happen that I wouldn’t let him have a bad day.”
A pet’s death can be heartbreaking and fill you with guilt, but there are places to turn for help - starting with your veterinarian. Veterinarian Dr. Nancy Soares said, “Coping mechanisms, we deal with it a lot here. we can provide people with pet support groups online or by live telephone.” While there's no shortage of books on the topic, you may also find comfort putting your -own- thoughts down on paper. Dr. Soares said, "Everyone accepts it a little bit differently, but everyone has to go through it differently. kids' emotions run the gamut when a pet dies, depending on their age."
- Encourage them to talk about their feelings. Dr Soares said, “Some
children can act out and grieve about it. Other children don’t cry about it, but
you’ll find out weeks later something might happen on the playground and that’ll
bring about their emotions of the loss of their pet.”
- Don't let your kids ignore the other pets in the house. The
four-legged members of the family can also grieve. Dr. Soares said,
“They’ll be lethargic, they won’t want to eat, they won’t want to play with
- Give your kids time to cope. Susan McVie said, “You know you’re never gonna’ forget them, you just learn to go on.”
Mourning deeply for a pet is normal, but if the feelings last more than a few
weeks, it could be a sign of a bigger problem. Check with your doctor if you're
Fast Facts: More than 60% of American homes have at least one pet. Last year, more than $41.2 billion was spent on animal purchases and
care. Pets are great companions and provide unconditional and faithful support
to their owners. One study found 30% of cat and dog owners experienced severe
grief after the loss of their pet.
Audience Inquiry: Your veterinarian or local Human Society can provide regional resources to help families dealing with pet loss.
For General Information and Support:
How did you handle the loss of a pet?