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Coping with Loss

Saying goodbye to a forever friend is certainly not easy.

Beloved pets are commonly lost to old age, terminal illness, unforeseen emergencies, behavioral issues and chronic illness. While it is never a simple decision, a pet owner must consider their furry friend’s overall health, happiness and quality of life during these tough situations. When making the heartbreaking decision to humanely euthanize your pet, please think about:

  • Immobility
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chronic vomiting or diarrhea
  • Issues with urination or defecation
  • Blindness or deafness
  • Unresponsive or unmanageable behavior

Just as it is your responsibility as a pet owner to think about your pet’s quality of life, it is our duty as veterinarians to perform a complete examination so we can give our professional opinion and offer emotional support whenever you may need it.

Allow yourself to grieve. It is natural. Think of the wonderful times and beautiful memories you shared with your furry friend over the years, and allow yourself to heal. If you need anything at all, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We are here for you. There are also countless support groups, hotlines and message boards.

Tips for Coping with the Loss of a Pet:

1. Let yourself feel. It is okay to be hurt, sad, and/or angry without fear of judgment.

2. Find support. There are many support groups, hotlines and message boards that are available to help you let go. Also, reach out to other people who have lost pets they love. These individuals will truly understand what you are going through and may offer great support and guidance.

3. If you need professional support, find it. If you are persistently struggling and it is interfering with your daily life, schedule a visit with a mental health professional.

4. Don’t forget about your physical and emotional needs. Grieving is natural, but it can be draining. Be sure to eat healthfully, rest, and be physically active to elevate your mood.

5. Memorials are healing. Having a funeral for your furry family member may help you move on and provide closure.

6. Celebrate your pet’s life. Remember the good times you have had with your pet by creating a photo album, planting a tree in their memory, sharing memories and holding a memorial.

7. Stick to your normal routine. If you have other pets at home, they can also feel the loss of a friend and sense your sadness. Try to maintain what is normal, and perhaps play with your other pets more often. This will help you and your pets!

8. Reassure children. If you have children at home, allow them to feel grief and talk to them about their emotions. Allow them to be actively involved in any memorials and celebrations, and make sure they know they are not responsible. Also, let them fully move on before getting a new companion.

If you are in need of support, we recommend:

  • ASPCA Hotline: 877-GRIEF-10
  • Cornell University Pet Loss Support Hotline (T/Th 6-9PM): 607-253-3932