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Do pets know what is about to happen? If you are agitated or upset, your pet will detect this and also become upset. However, they don't know why you are upset and don't know that this visit to the Vet is any different from other visits e.g. for vaccinations.
Nothing really prepares us for the death of a pet, whether death is swift and unexpected, like an accident or whether it comes at the end of a slow decline. We are never fully aware of what a pet has contributed to our lives until our companion is gone. A pet's life can end under different circumstances:
We may decide not to pursue medical or surgical treatment in an ageing pet.
A pet's ailment has no cure and the best we can do is alleviate some of its suffering so that it can live the remainder of its days in relative comfort.
An illness or accident may take our pet suddenly.
We might decide to euthanase our pet to end its suffering.
We all secretly hope that our pet will have a pain free death - ideally we would like our pet to die peacefully in their sleep, and indeed many do. The impact of a pet's death is significantly increased when, as responsible and loving owners, we decide to have the pet euthanased.
About Euthanasia Euthanasia is the induction of a painless death and literally means "gentle death". Other terms you may hear are "put to sleep", "put down", "put out of its misery" or, less kindly, "destroy". In veterinary practice, it is accomplished by an intravenous injection of a concentrated dose of anaesthetic.
The decision to end a life is never easy. It is a personal, loving decision to euthanase a dog whose quality of life has deteriorated to an unacceptable level. It takes courage to assume this last duty and it is our last responsibility to a dog who has given us unconditional love and companionship. The bond between dog and owner is unique. It is easy to become emotionally overwhelmed in keeping your pet alive when you know that there is no hope of them regaining their health.
Vets don't exercise this option lightly. Their medical training and professional lives are dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of disease in animals. Vets are keenly aware of the balance between extending an animal's life and its suffering. Euthanasia is the ultimate tool to mercifully end a pet's suffering.
To request euthanasia for our pet is probably the most difficult decision a pet owner can make. We might experience all the grief feelings and reactions impacting together with intense mood swings. We may resent our position of power or feel angry at our pet for forcing us to make the decision. We might postpone the decision, bargaining with ourselves that if we wait another day, the decision will not be necessary. Feelings of guilt, dread and anxiety abound as we wrestle with the decision.
Making a decision to euthanse your dog To help you to prepare for the decision to euthanase your pet, consider the following questions. Use them as a guide. Only you can decide what is the best solution for you and your pet. Take your time and make an informed decision. Speak at length with your Vet who will go through your pets condition, prognosis and treatment options.
Consider the following: What is the present quality of my pet's life?
Does my pet have a malignancy, terminal condition or serious injury?
Is my pet still eating and drinking well? Active and playful? Affectionate toward me?
Is my pet able to go to the toilet unaided or is it incontinent?
Is my pet neglecting itself (e.g. grooming)?
Is my pet not able to get comfortable - can I do anything to make my pet more comfortable?
Is my pet interested in the activity surrounding it or is it unwilling to move about?
Does my pet seem tired, withdrawn and lethargic most of the time?
Is my pet in pain (do they cry out if touched)? Some don't show that they're in pain. Is my pet able to hold its head up when at rest?
Are any other treatment options available for its condition?
If a behavioural problem has led me to this decision, have I explored all options for dealing with this, seeking advice and intervention from an animal behaviour expert?
Does my pet sense that I am withdrawing from it because of its condition?
Will I want to be present during the euthanasia?
Will I say goodbye to my pet before the euthanasia because it is too painful for me to be present?
Will I want to wait in the reception area until it is over?
Do I want to be alone or should I ask a friend or family member to be present?
Do I want any special burial arrangements made?
Can my Vet store the body so that I can delay burial arrangements until a little later?
Do I want to adopt another pet?
Do I need time to recover from this loss before even considering another pet?
In making the decision, it is important to remember that the welfare of the animal is the prime consideration. Having seen our dog when they are happy and healthy, most of us recognise the signs given by a pet who is miserable. Discuss your dog's welfare with your Vet who will be able to advise whether the pet has a treatable ailment or is approaching the end of its life and help you to make the right decision for your pet and you.
The decision almost always causes much soul-searching, especially if you and your pet have been companions for several years. What matters to the pet is quality of life not length of life since a pet has little concept of future time. An illness may be treatable for a period of time, but there eventually comes a point when the pet no longer enjoys life. They may be in visible distress or withdrawn.
Sometimes it is possible to delay euthanasia for a day without causing suffering (e.g. where the pet has a terminal illness or is extremely old) and the euthanasia is planned. You might want to give your dog a last night of pampering, their favourite foods or food which was normally forbidden. This is a time for you and others who love your dog, to say "goodbye" and reassure your furry friend that they are very much loved. However, if your pet is suffering, or is already under anaesthetic, they will not enjoy having their misery prolonged.
How quickly does it happen? Your animal will not know what is going to happen. They may feel slight discomfort when the needle tip passes through the skin, but this is no greater than for any other injection. The euthanasia solution takes only a few seconds to induce a total loss of consciousness. Soon after, the animals breathing stops and their heart stops beating. If you are holding your dog, you will feel them exhale, relax and become heavier in your arms. Urine may trickle from their bladder as the muscles relax. The Vet will check for a pulse or eyelid-flick reflex and if there is any chance at all that the pet is only deeply unconscious, they will give a second injection. Your pet will not be aware of this second injection if it is needed.
Your Vet will place the dog into a natural looking sleeping position as if it has fallen asleep and close their eyes if necessary. Because all the muscles of the face have relaxed, their lips may pull back into what looks like a grimace. This is simply due to relaxation of the muscles and to gravity and is not a sign of pain, but it can cause concern if you didn't expect it.
Should I stay to the end? This is a personal decision. Some owners feel that it's their last duty to be there. Others prefer not to be present. Many take a friend or family member with them for emotional support. Do what feels right for you. Most Vets will allow you to remain with your pet during euthanasia if you wish. If they don't want you present, it is because you are so distressed and will upset your pet thus making it harder to handle and impossible for your Vet to perform the euthanasia - which is traumatic for all, concerned. Your Vet understands that this is a difficult time for you. If you remain calm this will reassure your pet and make the end very peaceful.
Not all owners wish to be present and there is no shame in this. Some people simply cannot stand the sight of injections. Your Vet will allow you to say goodbye to your pet and leave the consulting room. If you are taking your pets body away with you, they will call you back in afterwards. Your Vet will treat your pet with as much respect and dignity whether or not you are present.
Use something dignified to put your pet's body in: a pet bag, towel or blanket. Your Vet will normally wrap or cover your pet's body, or otherwise, place it in a black or blue bag. This is not a sign of disrespect, it is for hygiene and your own privacy. Some veterinary practices have a place where you can sit for a few minutes afterwards and regain your composure. If you do need a few moments before you are able to leave the surgery, tell the veterinary assistant.
Alternatively they may be able to help you back to your car, but bear in mind that they are unlikely to have the time to sit with you. Remember there is no shame in showing your emotions at this sad time, it is a natural reaction. Your Vet and assistant won't think any less of you if you lose control. They understand and probably feel the same for their own pets.
Getting another Dog Getting another dog following the passing of another is a personal decision that should not be rushed. Some people can not bear the silence of an empty home, while others need longer to come to terms with their loss. There is no right or wrong answer, but do make sure that you don't get a new dog while your emotions are still raw, they need to be welcomed into a forward looking, loving home. They will not replace the dog you lost but will be just as unique and special to you in their own way. You can then look forward to a future of new memories with your new loyal friend.
This guide helps you console your pet through the loss of its loved one, be it a human or another animal. You will learn some of the warning signs that your pet is having a hard time dealing with her grief, as well as some of the ways you can both be there for each other as you mourn. Remember, your furry pal is dealing with a traumatic experience, too. Although she may not be able to tell you exactly how she is feeling, there are plenty of things you can do to help her return to her normal, happy self.
Clinical Signs of Mourning in Dogs Dogs that normally display separation anxiety in their owner's absence are more likely to be affected by a permanent loss. However, many animals that aren't typically prone to stress may also be deeply affected by the loss of a loved one. You may notice that your pet initially seems to be panicked over the change and continues to act unlike her usual self in the days and even weeks following the passing of a loved one. As with people, how your four-legged friend displays and communicates her despair will be unique. And since we can't ask our pets about their feelings, it's important to keep an eye out for some of the common visible signs of depression in our furry friends. Often, these are similar to the same symptoms a human loved one might be suffering.
Lack of energy and engagement. Did your little loved one used to beg you for a morning walk, but now seems to be more interested in sleeping in every morning? Just like with humans, symptoms like lethargy, increased daytime sleeping, and a consistently mopey demeanor could indicate that she is hurting deeply and doesn't know how to cope.
Absence of play. It's not normal for an animal to suddenly lose interest in playtime unless there is an underlying physical or emotional issue. Just like we tend to have "off" days, so may your pet. But a new, regular pattern of disinterest in a game of chase or fetch is a warning sign that something more troubling is going on.
Loss of appetite or weight loss. Pet parents typically know exactly how much their creature eats on a normal basis. If your pet is affected by the chemical imbalances that are characteristic of depression or anxiety, this could directly affect how much she is willing to eat.
Reduced social interactions. If your pet suddenly seems disenchanted by other people and animals – especially those with whom she already shares a bond - she may be silently suffering.
Nighttime restlessness or insomnia. Your pet may have been used to sleeping with her human or animal companion, and now has to switch to a new routine of sleeping solitarily. Additionally, increased sleeping during the day and feeling the need to constantly search for the lost loved one may make evening rest a difficult task.
Behavioral reversal. Oftentimes, affectionate, demanding pets will become distant while independent pets will become increasingly needier following a permanent loss. Just like with humans, your pet may be looking for a way to cope, and doesn't know the best way to interact with others during the transition.
How to Help Your Pet Overcome Grief In people, depression after a loved one's death usually decreases over time. The depression can be as brief as two months, but it may last much longer. Whatever the case, sometimes medical or psychological help can be beneficial, and the same is true when it comes to our pets. While some animals will eventually recover on their own with our support, others will seem to be in a perpetual kind of funk. While it may sometimes feel like there is nothing you can do to help your pet overcome her obstacles, there are many ways to assist in the healing process of pets. The following resources provide useful information on supporting your pet in her time of distress. As people, we have funeral services for our loved ones, where we are able to say goodbye and come to terms with our loss. This same concept may also be beneficial to our pets. Whenever possible, try letting your pet see or be near the deceased. It may help her understand what's happened. If you are euthanizing a pet in a multiple-pet home, consider letting your healthy pet be present during euthanasia or let them see the deceased dog's body.
Talk to your dog using positive words and phrases. It can be therapeutic for you to share your sadness with your animal by saying something like, "I feel so sad. It's not your fault, and I know you are hurting too. You are such a good girl, and I love you." She may not understand the words you are saying, but she will pick up on your emotions and feel comforted. Make sure your pet has company during the day and at night. Just as we seek support when coping with loss, so will your pet. If you don't already, consider letting her cuddle with you on the couch or allowing her to sleep in your room at night so she doesn't feel lonely. Offer distractions like toys, treats, games and excursions. Daily exercise is extremely important for all dogs and cats, whether they are grieving or not. Regular activity will help increase the amount of feel good endorphins in your dog'ds brain, which will be a quick and natural mood booster. Groom your pet regularly. It will be soothing to your animal, and strengthen your bond with her. Cats who are depressed may also groom themselves less frequently, and your extra care and attention will keep her healthy as well as make her feel pampered and comforted.
Allow time to help heal your dog's wounds. We don't move on immediately when someone we care about passes away, and the same will be true of your pet - it may take longer than you wish it would. Trying to keep a consistent routine as much as possible will help make the transition as smooth as possible, although your pet may be a little reluctant to participate. If she is having appetite troubles, try supervising her feedings, and then limiting her to 10-minute periods of dining time. This may invoke a sense of urgency, and help her regain her appetite. However, if your dog has gone a day without drinking and more than a day or two without eating, visit your vet right away. If your dog seems uninterested in taking a walk, put the leash on her and coax her out of the house, or take her on a car ride to a nearby park. If she is small, you can start the walk by carrying her. Odds are, being outside in the sunshine will encourage her to take a stroll.
If your pet seems to really be struggling, speak with your veterinarian about anti-depressant medication. This should not be the first option you consider, but in extreme cases, it may provide a temporary or even long-term solution for your dog's depression or anxiety. Keep in mind that medication doses for humans and animals are very different, and you should never give your dog medicine without consent and instructions from your vet. Take care of yourself. Our pets often mirror our own emotional state and behaviors, so when we are feeling down, we may unwittingly be affecting the mood of our pet. Allow yourself the time and patience to grieve however you need to, and seek extra help from a medical professional if you feel you can't fight the battle on your own. Grief is a painful process, for you as well as your surviving pet. Yet our grief is part of how we honor someone’s passing and is a testament to the depth of our love. While every person and pet will grieve in their own way, the most important thing is to not let it become all-consuming. Part of honoring someone's memory is finding joy in the simple things - a theory both you and your beloved pet can put into practice together.
30 QUOTES TO DEAL WITH A GRIEF This article is proudly presented & copyrighted by WWW.PUPPYLEAKS.COM and Jen Gabbard
The worst part about owning a dog is having to say goodbye, and that goodbye often feels far too soon. Studies have shown that the loss of a beloved pet can cause severe psychological distress, and for many of us that grief can be overwhelming. Grief has a way of making us feel alone, and it's not the easiest of topics to talk about. In those dark times I have often found comfort in the words & wisdom of others. The words of others have a way of helping us see that we are not alone, and that we are not the only ones who've struggled with grief. If you are struggling with the loss of a pet I hope these words bring some small comfort. Here is 30 quotes about losing a dog and dealing with grief.
"Nobody can fully understand the meaning of love unless he's owned a dog. A dog can show you more honest affection with a flick of his tail than a man can gather through a lifetime of handshakes." - Gene Hill
"The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not "get over" the loss of a loved one, you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to." - Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
"The misery of keeping a dog is his dying so soon. But, to be sure, if he lived for fifty years and then died, what would become of me?" - Sir Walter Scott
"There is no pain so great as the memory of joy in present grief." - Aeschylus
"The bond with a dog is as lasting as the ties of this earth can ever be." - Konrad Lorenz
"Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in." - Mark Twain
"I have sometimes thought of the final cause of dogs having such short lives and I am quite satisfied it is in compassion to the human race, for if we suffer so much in losing a dog after an acquaintance of ten or twelve years, what would it be if they were to live double that time?" - Sir Walter Scott
"Sometimes losing a pet is more painful than losing a human because in the case of the pet, you were not pretending to love it." - Amy Sedaris
"If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans." - James Herriot
"I guess you don't really own a dog, you rent them, and you have to be thankful that you had a long lease." - Joe Garagiola
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." - Will Rogers
"They say time heals all wounds, but that presumes the source of the grief is finite." - Cassandra Clare
"If there is a heaven, it's certain our animals are to be there. Their lives become so interwoven with our own, it would take more than an archangel to detangle them." - Pam Brown
"Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole." - Roger Caras
"Dogs come into our lives to teach us about love, they depart to teach us about loss. A new dog never replaces an old dog, it merely expands the heart. If you have loved many dogs your heart is very big." - Erica Jong
"Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal." - From an Irish Headstone
"Dogs leave pawprints on our hearts" - Author Unknown
"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened." - Anatole France
"There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love." - Washington Irving
"Grief is like the ocean, it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim." - Vicki Harrison
"When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight." - Khalil Gibran
"Although it's difficult today to see beyond the sorrow, may looking back in memory help comfort you tomorrow " - Author Unknown
"To call him a dog hardly seems to do him justice, though inasmuch as he had four legs, a tail, and barked, I admit he was, to all outward appearances. But to those who knew him well, he was a perfect gentleman." - Hermione Gingold
"I should know enough about loss to realize that you never really stop missing someone-you just learn to live around the huge gaping hole of their absence." - Alyson Noel
"Sometimes, only one person is missing, and the whole world seems depopulated." - Alphonse de Lamartine
"Not the least hard thing to bear when they go from us, these quiet friends, is that they carry away with them so many years of our own lives." - John Galsworthy
"The pain passes, but the beauty remains." - Pierre Auguste Renoir
"Grief doesn't have a plot. It isn't smooth. There is no beginning and middle and end." - Ann Hood
"The risk of love is loss, and the price of loss is grief. But the pain of grief is only a shadow when compared with the pain of never risking love." - Hilary Stanton Zunin
"Everyone can master a grief but he that has it." - William Shakespeare
There's no question that your pet is a member of the family, especially in the eyes of your child. For some little ones, your family cat, dog, hamster, or fish has been with them since day one. They have built their lives around caring for them and know them as part of the family. Helping children through the death of a pet can feel like an impossible task, but there are compassionate ways to support their healing journey, as well as your own. When, and how, do you tell children that their pet passed away? Experts say that honesty is always key. Kids need to feel that their parents are clear and open from the beginning. Otherwise, they may develop the feeling that speaking about death is frowned upon or stigmatized. Keeping it a secret or only telling part of the truth could decrease their chances of expressing their emotions freely.
1. Be Straightforward and Honest As adults, we often use indirect language to speak about death. This can be particularly confusing for children who may be afraid or unaware of what death really means. To help make the conversation clearer for your younger ones, try to avoid using language like "they passed away" or "they moved on." This is, after all, the first time they are processing the idea of death itself. There are ways to be honest while remaining gentle and compassionate. Begin by gently explaining that their pet died and when it occurred. If the child is under five, very calmly explain that this means your pet is no longer with you and will not be coming back. Use your discretion about the details of their passing depending on your child's age. Give them a moment to let the information sink in and then let them guide the conversation with their own questions. This will help clarify both what they need and how much information they are ready to hear. Be clear that any emotions or questions that arise are completely normal and you are there for them whenever they are ready to talk. Above all, always avoid using explanations that avoid the truth altogether. Stay away from claiming that their dog went "to the farm" or to live with another family. This doesn't allow for a sense of closure and could make your child feel that you made a decision to send the pet away, which could cause resentment.
2. Explain Euthanasia If They are Ready Euthanizing a pet can be a confusing concept for young children, especially for younger kids. If you are concerned about their reaction, wait to explain the concept until they are older. Since all children differ emotionally, gauge your level of detail depending on how they process information. Some older children may understand and appreciate knowing the exact details of what happened. Explain that you and the veterinarian decided that this was the best choice based on their pet's comfort and quality of life. Be sure to note that their pet was not going to get better and describe how euthanasia is sometimes the kindest option. This may bring up additional questions about the process. As before, let them lead the conversation. They may not process the information all at once, so be sure to give them space while staying available for unpredictable signs of grief. Try to avoid using the phrase "put to sleep," especially for younger children. It's normal to take things quite literally at a young age. They could associate this language with going to sleep at night, which could cause additional stress.
3. Offer Comfort Learning about grief is just as important as sharing the news itself. Everyone responds differently and in different phases, so it's important to let your child know that there's no right or wrong way to heal. If your child doesn't seem sad at first, try not to push them in the direction of feeling a certain way. They may not be able to process the concept of their pet being gone until a few days in. Remind them that you will also likely feel sad, angry, and confused - you can work through this together. If there's something they'd like to do in the moment to bring themselves comfort - such as going for a walk, getting some rest, or spending time with a friend - encourage them to express themselves.
Answer Their Questions It's very normal for your child to have lots of questions. This is especially the case if your pet dies suddenly. They may even look for someone to blame. Explain that it's tricky to handle your sadness and anger, even though it's okay to feel both of these things. Try to avoid blaming someone in particular, like the vet. This could build up confusion about death itself and lessen their trust of medical professionals. If you feel that your own grieving process is misdirecting your child, it's okay to bring in another adult to help you all process. Create a support team at home and at school to remind your child that you're there to answer any questions that come up. To prepare for the initial conversation or conversations to come, consider a few of the most common questions children ask after learning that their pet has passed:
Will I ever see my pet again?
Is this my fault?
Is death forever?
Why did they die?
Will our other pets die?
Where is my pet now?
As we mentioned earlier, use your discretion regarding the details of their passing. Always leave out anything that could be more upsetting or depict the pet's pain in the end. Instead, redirect the conversation to clarify that they are no longer in pain. You can also ask questions to direct them toward working through their thoughts. Try to only encourage this if you feel they are having a hard time expressing their grief.
Can you name the feelings you have right now?
Do you have any questions about what happened?
What are some things you loved about your pet?
Can you tell me your favorite story about them?
The death of a family pet is often the first death experienced by a child. Children naturally develop strong attachments to companion animals, relating to them as siblings, playmates, confidants and even imaginary protectors. Although children experience grief differently than adults, they do grieve. They need support and guidance to understand their loss, to mourn that loss, and to find ways to remember and memorialize their deceased loved one.
Children look to us for guidance in word as well action. The death of a beloved pet presents an emotional stress, even for a well-adjusted adult. Thus, it is important for adults to access bereavement supports for themselves, in order to deal with their emotions and be more effective parents for their children. Also, we must avoid projecting our own overconcerns on a child, creating problems that would not have otherwise existed.
Age-Related Developmental Stages about The Death Of A Pet
Children do not respond to death as adults do. Their normal reactions are much more natural, curious and varied, until that is changed by the adult world. How the child responds will depend on the strength of the bond with the pet, as well as the child's age and developmental stage. Always keep in mind that the parent is the model here for almost everything. The general subject of death is not unknown to children. They watch movies, television. They hear reports from schoolmates and friends. You may be surprised at how much your child does know.
2-3 Year Olds: Two to three year olds do not have the life experiences to give them an understanding of death. They should be told the pet has died and will not return. It is important that they be reassured that they did not do or say anything to cause the death. Children at this age may not understand what death really means, but they will sense and copy your emotions and behavior. Note that it is good to cry and show your own feelings of grief, but these must be controlled and perceived as a normal response to the loss of a loved one. Extra reassurance, as well as maintaining usual routines will help the child. At this age one will usually accept a new pet very easily.
4-6 Year Olds: Children of this age group usually have some understanding of death but may not comprehend the permanence of it. They may even think the pet is asleep or continuing to eat, breathe and play. They may also feel that past anger towards their pet, or some perceived bad behavior was responsible for its death. Manifestations of grief may include bowel or bladder disturbances as well as a change in playing, eating and sleeping habits. Through frequent, brief discussions allow the child to express feelings and concerns. Give extra reassurance. Drawing pictures and writing stories about their loss may be helpful. Include the child in any funeral arrangements.
7-9 Year Olds: Children in this age group know that death is irreversible. They do not normally think this might happen to them, but they may be concerned about the death of their parents. They are very curious and may ask questions that appear morbid. These questions are natural and are best answered frankly and honestly. At this age they may manifest their grief in many ways, such as school problems, anti-social behavior, somatic or physical concerns, aggression, and withdrawal or clinging behavior. As with young children, it is important that they be reassured that they did not do or say anything that caused the death.
10-11 Year Olds: Children in this age group are usually able to understand that death is natural, inevitable and happens to all living things. They often react to death in a manner very similar to adults, using their parent's attitude as their model. A pet's death can trigger memories of previous losses of any kind, and this should always be open for discussion.
Adolescents: This generalized age group reacts similarly to adults. However, the typical adolescent span of expression can range from apparent total lack of concern to hyper-emotional. One day they want to be treated like an adult, and the next day they need to be reassured like a young child. Peer approval is also very important. If friends are supportive, it is much easier for them to deal with a loss. Also, keep in mind that an adolescent is trying to find his or her own true feelings, and may be prone to conflict with a parent on how to express feelings and grief, at this time. It is important to avoid antagonisms over this.
Young Adults: Although young adults can hardly be called children, the loss of a pet in this age group can be particularly hard. They may also have feelings of guilt for abandoning their pets when leaving home for college, work or marriage. There may have been a very close relationship with that pet since early childhood. Among other pressures experienced after the departure from home, this can add additional stress. Due to geographical distances, they are often unable to return to the family home to say goodbye to the pet or participate in family rituals associated with the loss.
Children see tears and grief, and they learn from total immersion what bereavement means. Don't try to protect them from this reality. Let them share your feelings to a reasonable degree, according to their maturity and ability to understand. This will help them to know that grief is normal and is acceptable, in whatever loss they are experiencing. Teach them that ultimately, all life is change and growth. That is a very hard lesson to learn, but a necessary one. They need to understand that tears in a loving and understanding environment can help people get past the worst of the sadness. And through experience they will later learn that time will always help make things feel better.
Questions That Children May Ask Children may ask many questions upon the death of a pet. This may include why did he/she die? Where did he/she go? Will we see him/her again? Is he/she with God? Can he/she hear us?
It is best to answer questions as honestly as possible - but avoid giving too much detail with extra information. Young children, in particular, need only basic answers to satisfy their wonder. Your responses should also be based on your religious or philosophical views, in regards to the soul and an afterlife. It is also okay to say that you really don't know an answer. But by all means, share your own personal thoughts, feelings and beliefs. Let children know that it is alright to ask questions, and to cry. And it is okay for you to cry with them - if they perceive that tears can help ease some of the pain.
Children, as well as adults, need good distractions from fixation on the death of a pet. The following is a list of ways to creatively memorialize a pet.
Encourage children to express their grief by drawing pictures of their pet, and sharing what the pictures mean to them. Always listen to what they have to say, and praise them for their thoughts. If a child would like the picture put in his/her room, then honor that wish. It could keep the pet closer to the child at bedtime until the grief has subsided.
Make a scrapbook or log with photos as well as drawn pictures of the pet and family members. Write memories beneath or beside them. Humorous instances should be included on the pages, which can help develop associations with happiness each time the book is opened. Other small items such as a dogtag, or small toy, can be included, as well as sympathy cards, and letters. You can find some very nice packages on the market, for making scrapbooks.
If a pet has been cremated, a special place can be arranged in the home for the urn, as well as just a few pictures and mementos of the pet. Some people keep those things on the mantle of a fireplace, or utilize a special part of a bookshelf. In choosing and designing this, make sure that children are allowed to participate in the decision - making process. But wherever that place of honor is, it is important that it never be turned into some kind of shrine to the pet's memory. That can be destructive to the bereavement and healing.
If the ashes are to be scattered let the child feel he or she was part of the decision-making. It will be more meaningful if this is done at a place where the pet loved to go. Ask for suggestions about this. It is important that a child be made to feel that his or her thoughts and feelings are important to you.
If a pet is to be buried, wrap the body in a shroud or casket that preferably a family member has made. That can also have an effect of closer bonding with the parents and family.
Planting a living memorial, such as a tree or bush in memory of a pet, can feel very satisfying. Making a small flower bed in a spot that was favored by the pet, can also be a fine memorial that brings some closure to the grief.
Some people have a ritual of lighting candles on anniversaries, and reminiscing about their life with their pets. This offers them a special sense of comfort and respect. Let the children participate in this.
It is good to invite friends to talk about their own positive experiences regarding the death of a beloved pet. It is usually a bittersweet time of laughing and crying with one another, but that is part of the healing process. It is good for children to learn about the joys that pets bring into other people's lives. An exchange of memories helps to broaden their personal perspective of the human/animal bond, and their role in this. Placing a picture memorial with a written message to the pet on our website is another way of bringing peace of mind and comfort to everyone in the family. It assists with coming to some sense of resolution, and accepting the transfer of the pet to a beloved memory. That can be especially helpful to children when they and their friends visit and honor their beloved one, there. To place a memorial, please click on the Join Us link on this website and follow the instructions. The child can help write the memorial statement with you.
A child's ability to cope with an animal companion's death can be compromised by other stresses, such as parental or sibling conflict, mental health issues, substance abuse, other family pressures or another recent death. Children in high stress families often develop early dependencies and attachments with a family pet. When that companion dies, it may create a crisis for that child.
The loss of a pet can be a significant source of grief in a family. Indeed, it is the loss of a beloved member. That can lead to disorganization in family functioning, due to bereavement and changes in routines. New ones will have to be created, and it can be beneficial to discuss this. Children will need support to cope with the changes, as well as to understand the emotional impact on everyone, including their parents. It is important to show them it is good for families to react and grieve together.
Every child will react differently depending on their age and development. They may have no idea how to process grief, and will also likely experience different feelings than adults. For example, they could go several hours or days before outwardly showing anger or sadness. Processing can take a while, so be patient and gentle. No matter their reaction, support and encourage them to accept feelings as they come. Here are some step-by-step tips for starting the conversation about losing a pet.
Celebrate Your Pet's Life Part of the grieving process is recognizing the role your pet played in your family. Be sure to explain that your sadness comes from love and you are still allowed to celebrate this feeling. After they spend some time processing the news, let them know that you can honor their life in a variety of ways. Also reiterate that there is no timeframe for loss. Specify that they will feel better with time, but that the pet will always play a special role in their memories. Here are a few ideas for honoring your pet's life with your child:
Hold a Memorial Ritual can be an important part of the healing process for people of all ages. Plan a small memorial in your backyard or at the pet's favorite park. Explain to your child that it can be helpful to spend some quiet time together speaking about the life of the animal and marking the end of their life with love and recognition. Purchase a special item or memorial stone for the event so that they have a visual to relate to.
Plant Flowers in Their Honor Life-affirming actions can help break through the initial helplessness of learning about death. Suggest planting a tree, flowers, or seeds with your child. It may be a good idea to speak or think about the love they had for their animal every time they pass by the growing plant.
Walk Along Your Route Losing a pet also means losing daily rituals. If you lost a family dog, consider memorializing their lives by mindfully walking along your route together. This may be too difficult just after your dog's passing, but it will eventually remind your child that life continues in similar ways. You can honor their memory by enjoying the same route they did.
Make a Temporary Shrine There are likely items throughout your home that belonged to or remind you of your pet such as a scratch post, dog treats, or fishbowl. Clearing away all of these items too soon may be jarring for a child. Choose a space in your home to arrange these items to honor their memory. Choose a time in the near future to put these away when you are ready.
Frame and Hang a Photo Consider displaying your favorite images of your pet somewhere special in your home. Encourage your child to help you pick out the photo and frame so that they are part of the ritual.
Draw or Paint a Picture It can be hard to find the words to express your feelings, especially for younger kids. During the grieving process, ask your child if they'd like to draw a picture with you in honor of the lost pet. It doesn't need to be of the pet itself, just anything that comes to mind to help them process their emotions.
Provide Resources Consider turning to activities that you can do as a family to help with the grieving process. These may include reading children's books, watching movies, or listening to podcasts that deal with the topic of losing an animal. Connecting with characters or hearing another expert's perspective may help them feel less alone in the experience. During the healing process, they will likely realize that this is something everyone has gone through either with a pet or a loved one. Depending on your child's age, consider one of the following books, movies, or podcasts for working through this difficult time. These either directly address the loss of a pet or handle death in a compassionate and comforting way.
The Legend of the Rainbow Bridge: (Ages 4 and up) A well-known poem with colorful and comforting paintings of pets crossing a rainbow to the next world.
Saying Goodbye to Lulu: (Ages 4-7) A coming-of-age story about a young girl and her dog Lulu. When Lulu passes away later in life, the girl learns how to keep her memories of her friend close to her heart.
When a Pet Dies: (Ages 4-8) A book in Mr. Roger's "First Experience" series that gently speaks to children about the sadness of losing a pet.
The Tenth Good Thing About Barney: (Ages 6-9) A first-person story of a young boy seeking the tenth, and most important, thing that he loved about his dog after its passing.
Wish: (Ages 9-12) A young girl learns the true meaning of family with the help of a stray dog that becomes her closest friend.
One way to help yourself focus on those positive memories is to develop a memorial to your pet, a tribute or reminder that will actively help you access and concentrate on those recollections. Creating such a tribute can be an effective tool to help you cope with grief, though it may certainly produce a few tears in the process!, and it will also provide you with a loving reminder of that pet in the years to come.
There are many ways to memorialize a pet. Here are a few of the most popular:
Develop a photo tribute. One way to do this is to choose an especially good photo of your pet and have it beautifully framed, and place it where it will bring you the most comfort. Another is to gather a collection of representative photos i.e., photos of your pet engaged in different activities, and at different ages and turn them into a collection or collage. For example, you can purchase mats with cutouts for as many as 20 photos perhaps even more, and this provides a lovely way to display a collection. You can then put the matted collection in a nice frame, which will help preserve it.
Have a portrait painted. Many pet portrait artists list their services in pet magazines, you may also find one in your local yellow pages. You can also find such services online by searching under pet portraits. Such artists generally work from photos - it being a bit difficult to persuade a pet to "sit" for a portrait. All you need to do, therefore, is to find a good quality photo of your pet - preferably one that gives a good view of its face and send or bring it to the artist. Many people consider a portrait that is an original work of art to be a better tribute to a pet than a photograph.
Create a craft tribute. If you enjoy a particular type of art or craft, consider using that to memorialize your pet. For example, I've used needlepoint kits that resemble my pets to create tributes. You can also find services that will transfer your pet's photo onto a needlepoint canvas, or create a canvas from a photo. If you have a knack for painting ceramics or plaster, consider painting a statue that resembles your pet.
Create a written tribute. A written tribute can take just about any form: A poem to or about your pet, a letter to your pet or even "from" your pet to you, an account of your pet's life, or anything else that seems an effective way of expressing your feelings and memories. This could also be done as a family project, with each member contributing their own materials, which can then be assembled in a single volume that can be shared by all.
With today's printing technologies, you can even extend this option by having an actual bound book printed that includes both written tributes and photos. The easiest way to do this is to prepare the written tributes on a computer and print them off in the desired format e.g., with your choice of fonts, formats, colors, etc.. Have your favorite photos scanned or scan them yourself if you have a scanner. You can then create a simple layout of text and artwork using a basic word-processing program, such as MS Word, or print out the photos and text and assemble them by hand. Your book can then be reproduced and "bound" at your local print or copy shop. This will cost a few dollars, but is a nice way to make copies for family members.
Post a tribute online. A number of sites offer this as a free service; you'll find some of those listings in our links section. Because so many sites do offer this service at no cost, I do not recommend paying for this service, unless you feel that the site is sponsored by a worthy organization and your fee will directly contribute to that organization. Many sites also let you post a picture of your pet.
Plant a tree. A company called Treegivers offers to plant a tree in your pet's name, in the state of your choice. Or, plant a tree or special plant in your own garden for remembrance. One person planted a special catnip patch. Your city parks department might also allow you to plant a tree in a city park in memory of your pet.
Obtain a special urn for your pet's ashes. If you have chosen cremation for your pet, you may wish to keep its ashes in a decorate urn. Today, you can find a marvelous array of urns on the market. They come in fine woods, stained glass, gleaming metal, or even as carvings of specific breeds. To find lists of urn manufacturers, check the classifieds and back-page ads of major pet magazines.
Contribute to an animal welfare organization. Often, animal shelters will provide a plaque or paving stone with your pet's name on it for a minimum donation. For example, when the humane society in Olympia, Washington, relocated, it offered brass plaques that were used to line the walls in the main lobby; for a donation, one could have one's pet's name and a message etched on the plaque. Nor are you limited to pet organizations; when the library in San Carlos, CA, opened its new facility, it offered paving stones that could be etched with a message, and many tributes to beloved pets became a permanent part of the facility.
Contribute to the cure. If your pet died of a particular disease, there may be a research organization that is seeking a cure. A contribution to that organization may help other pets and pet owners in the future.
Shop for a memorial item. Believe it or not, I've actually found shopping to be immensely therapeutic. I still have a beautiful bronze-like statue, it's really plaster, but it looks like bronze that I bought when a beloved cat died nearly 15 years ago. The cat was black, so I found a cat-themed store and bought just about everything I could find with a black cat motif.
Photo Display Gallery Box Put your pet's picture in a photo-display box one that has a place in the top for a photo. Put some of the pet's treasures inside the box, such as a collar or a lock of hair.
Place a memorial stone or marker in your garden, even if you have not buried your pet at home.
Keep a journal to help you through the grieving process. Record your pet's life story in that journal.
Here's a reader's account of her Dog Party: Diary of the Best Last Day. It's a wonderful, moving example of how to plan a "parting day" and create a farewell event for one's pet and family.
Build your own website in tribute to your pet.
Create a stepping stone for your garden in memory of your pet Or to mark its grave or the burial place of its ashes. There are many kits available that enable you to make your own stone and personalize it. The reader noted, "For example, my cat loved to eat fish and I found glass fish with which to make a mosaic."
What I don't recommend is turning a memorial into a "shrine." I realize that some people really like shrines, but in my view, this tends to keep one's mind and heart focused on "death and loss", not on living, loving, and remembering. Your pet was a part of your life, and its tribute should also be a part of your life - not a perpetual reminder of its death.
Unfortunately, since the normal life span of most animals is so much shorter than our own, sooner or later most animal lovers will experience the loss of a beloved pet. Whether struggling with an animal's chronic illness, facing a decision about euthanasia, or mourning the loss of a pet, our reactions may be so intense that we feel shocked and overwhelmed by them. Saying goodbye to our pets is one of the hardest things we ever have to do. As pets walk into our lives, our homes, and our families, they also walk into our hearts forever. Of all the worries pet owners may have around surgery, anesthesia probably tops the list. Unfortunately, their concerns are often the wrong ones. There are many misconceptions in our society about dog loss that make it an even more difficult time for grieving pet owners. These are five popular misconceptions about pet loss, as well as the reality most pet owners face.
There is nothing special about the relationship between animals and humans. Your relationship with a companion animal can be just as special and loving as those you have with any other family member or close friend. Loving an animal is different from loving a human being, because a pet loves you in a way that people cannot: profoundly, boundlessly and unconditionally.
Losing an animal is less painful and less significant than losing a human loved one. Pain over the loss of a beloved companion animal is as natural as the pain you would feel over the loss of any significant relationship. Since cherished pets weave their way into every aspect of your daily life, in some ways it may be even more difficult to cope with losing them. Once they are gone, you are repeatedly encountering evidence of their absence and constantly reminded of your grief.
Having close relationships with animals and grieving at their loss is abnormal and unnatural. You need not let anyone influence you to believe that your relationships with animals are somehow wrong or less important than those you have with humans. Loving animals well and responsibly teaches all of us to better love all living beings, including humans. Grief is the normal response to losing someone you love, and grief is indifferent to the species of the one who is lost. Love is love, loss is loss, and pain is pain.
Relationships we have with animals are not as important as those we have with humans. Having deeply meaningful, spiritual and healthy relationships with animals is not abnormal, and in some cases may be more emotionally healthy, spiritually healing and personally rewarding than those we have with humans. Pets offer us a kind of loyalty, devotion and unconditional love that cannot be found in the more complicated relationships we have with relatives, friends and neighbors.
Death of a pet can be a useful "dress rehearsal" for the real thing, especially for children. Death of a pet is often a child's first real encounter with a major loss. Suddenly friendship, companionship, loyalty, support and unconditional love are replaced with overwhelming and unfamiliar feelings of loss, confusion, emptiness, fear and grief. Far from being a so-called dress rehearsal, for most children pet loss is a profoundly painful experience.
Most people think of euthanasia as a quick and easy way to get rid of their sick, dying, old or unwanted animals. Deciding when and whether to euthanize a beloved pet is probably one of the most difficult choices an animal lover ever has to make. On the one hand, you know that choosing to end your dog's life will intensify your own emotional pain, yet postponing the decision may prolong your animal's pain and suffering needlessly. At such times it is very important to explore all aspects of the euthanasia decision with your veterinarian and with others whom you trust, to listen to what your animal may be trying to tell you, and to trust your own intuition.
Conducting rituals, funerals or memorial services for dead animals is a frivolous waste of time and money, and those who engage in such practices are eccentric and strange. Whether for animals or for humans, death ceremonies and rituals help meet our needs to support one another in grief, acknowledge the important role our loved ones played in our lives, honor the memory of our departed companions, and bring meaning to our loss.
MYTH: Grief only begins once the dog is gone... The grief that comes along with saying goodbye to your friend starts the second you receive the diagnosis that your pet has cancer, a serious illness, or that there are limited additional therapies that can make them comfortable as they age. This grief is called anticipatory grief. It is a very real form of grief and can be very strong. Pet owners facing a difficult diagnosis may experience some or all of the stages of grief - denial, bargaining, depression, anger, and acceptance, as they anticipate the loss of their friend. Some owners express that this anticipation is even stronger than the grief that begins after euthanasia when the pet is gone. Once departed, there is often a sense of relief that the pet is no longer suffering.
MYTH: I will just "know" when the time is right for euthanasia You are mistaken.. for you, there will be never a suitable time for euthanasia! Because it's your best friend. There is no "perfect" time for euthanasia. There is a window of time from terminal diagnosis to natural death, in which euthanasia may be considered appropriate. Within that window, the decision to euthanize a pet is a very personal one for each family. Working with the family's veterinarian, owners should begin to develop their own decision-making guide for their pet. For some owners, a loss of appetite may be their indication that their pet is ready - for others, their pet may continue to eat despite uncontrollable pain or loss of motor function. Discussing the dog's personality, diagnosis, symptoms, progression, and role within the family will assist a veterinarian in helping decide when the time may be right. Ultimately, I encourage family members to discuss their pet together to help decide when the most appropriate time to say goodbye to that pet, prior to any true suffering.
MYTH: No one will understand There are people who understand the depth of your grief. They may not be your friends, family members, or co-workers, but they are out there. Many towns & villages provide a safe place for dog owners to discuss their feelings and to lend support to others going through similar experiences. These meetings typically consist of a small group of pet owners, a licensed clinical social worker who facilitates the meetings, and myself, a hospice veterinarian. At the start of the meetings, a short video about pet loss and a brief presentation of the normal grief process shown and is followed by an open discussion by those in attendance.
MYTH: Time heals all wounds Dealing with your grief in a healthy way requires work. Just as the funeral ritual helps people acknowledge and express their grief when a human friend or relative passes away, rituals can also help during the grief journey after the loss of a pet. Grief work can include creating a pet memorial, keeping a journal of your emotions and memories, lighting a memorial candle, writing a letter to your pet, having a small service to spread your dog's ashes. Children are especially good at creating artwork and poetry to honor their lost friends. Many veterinarians have a page on their website dedicated to pet memorials. They allow owners to post their remembrances or light a virtual candle for free.
MYTH: I should get another dog right away Replacing the loss doesn't work. Some pet owners feel they may never get another pet because the grief is too difficult. Other pet owners feel they need a pet in the house to distract them from their grief. Regardless of the timing of a new addition, remember that it must be the pet owner's decision to get a new pet. A new relationship, even a great new relationship, cannot ever replace the relationship that was lost. If a new pet is forced on a grieving person, they may grow to resent the new pet and or the giver.
MYTH: You shouldn't be grieving for your pet this much Grieving for the death or loss of your companion is hard work. It can be incredibly exhausting, painful, and overwhelming to process through the many emotions that are faced during this time. It can be made harder if assumptions are made about a few common myths associated with pet loss. This article explores nine frequent misconceptions when it comes to experiencing the death of a companion animal and clears them up with the truth. Research shows that grieving for the death of a companion animal is just as painful, if not more so than the death of an immediate family member. You have a right to experience and feel your emotions whether or not our emotions are understood by others.
MYTH: Expressing your emotions for the death of your pet should be limited and hidden It's healthier to allow your body to process through emotions and to experience your grief. Emotions can be very high especially in the acute phase of grief, or right after experiencing the death of your companion. Knowing that your reaction is very normal can be helpful to allow yourself to start moving through your experience.
MYTH: You killed your animal by euthanasia and should feel horrible A lot of Veterinarians decide on Veterinary medicine because the option of euthanasia is available. Our pets don't deserve prolonged suffering and pain. Euthanasia can be a gift in which we can halt suffering and help our dog's transition as comfortably as possible. Facing the choice of euthanasia can be one of the worst and most difficult choice a pet owner may ever have to make, but at times it shows the immense love and compassion shared. It can be a selfless act when we want to hold on but know that our pets deserve more, no matter how painful it is to let go for ourselves.
MYTH: The Veterinarian didn't care about my dog and wanted them to die When we grieve, we try to cope with our intense emotions. It is common to misplace blame or accuse others for the death of our companion. Medical mishaps do happen, and experiencing one is tragic. Countless Veterinarians have come to my office grieving as such. I have yet to meet one that purposely wanted a bad experience during surgery or for a companion animal to be euthanized. You have a right to be angry and it can be helpful to express your anger, but finding positive outlets to funnel that anger is important.
MYTH: If I have to take time off of work for grieving my dog's death I am weak and crazy Your pet is a member of the family and the experience of grief can be immense. We need time to grieve and process through our experience. Depending on the personal life circumstances a person is facing, at times it can be just too much to keep working as normal throughout the experience. Taking some time off can be just what we need to step back and process.
MYTH: The pain of loss is too much and you should never have another pet Yes, the pain loving pet owners experience after their passing is immense. It can be hard to place the experience into words and our journeys are all very much unique. As part of the human condition, we will experience a lot of grief throughout our lifetime and some of the most substantial experiences can be the grief of losing a beloved pet. How much joy and unconditional love was shared? How many times did we experience pure and wonderful emotions shared between ourselves and our pet. The pain of grief can represent the pain in having our companions no longer sharing our lives with us. We grieve as much as we have loved, and at times even more so. Don't rush into adoption to "cover up" your loss, as no two pets are the same. At the same time, don't forever push away any dreams of future companions, either.
MYTH: I have been grieving for months, I should be over this already Grief does not follow a timeline. Commonly the beginning experience can be intense and it does lessen overtime; however, there are many ups and downs along that process. No two experiences are alike in time, intensity, or duration. The important thing is to continue meeting your basic needs throughout your process of grief to keep going.
MYTH: I should have known this was coming or been able to act quicker Our pets are biologically pre-programmed to hide pain unless you are trained to be able to identify it. We couldn't have known what the end of life looked like, or will look like for our pets, just as we cannot identify it for ourselves. Feelings of guilt can feel like they are drowning us when it comes to making choices in our dog's end of life, or having to make medical decisions extremely quickly. We do the best we can, with what we know, at the time we know it. No one can ask for anything else.
MYTH: Euthanasia is risky Okay, so this is not a complete myth. Of course there is always a risk with anesthesia, but it's immensely smaller than most pet owners believe. Of ALL patients, including the healthiest and the sickest, what percentage of pets don't make it through anesthesia? 30%? 20%? 10%? 5%? 1%? What would you guess? Out of 98,000 dogs and 79,000 cats that underwent anesthesia at over 100 different practices. This was an extravagantly large study by veterinary standards. According to PubMed, Brodbelt found that the overall risk of anesthetic and sedation-related death in dogs 0.17% and in cats 0.24%. As you can see, this indicates that anesthesia is very safe overall, much safer than most would think. With our improved knowledge of anesthesia drugs and excellent advancements in monitoring equipment, the percentage of dogs and cats that die under anesthesia is a fraction of 1%. Surely, specific conditions trauma, diseases and infections can increase the risks, but these issues are more manageable than you might think. By performing pre-operative blood work and tailoring the anesthesia drugs for each pet, veterinarians can minimize the risks.
MYTH: Most complications occur during surgery or while under anesthesia. Here is a great example of a classic urban legend. Most of the time, the biggest risks are not during surgery and anesthesia but during recovery. As a pet awakens, there are a number of complications that can arise. In the Brodbelt study I mentioned earlier, over 50% of pets who died after surgery, died within 3 hours of the procedure ending. this is why it is critical to take your pet to a hospital where trained nurses will continue to closely monitor your pet after anesthesia.
MYTH: All vets offer and practice the same anesthesia techniques Actually, every veterinarian seems subject to personal opinion when it comes to anesthesia; the same way everyone has their own personal preference when it comes to cars. Some people want a Ford, while others only buy Honda, but ultimately both cars will get you from point A to point B. Similarly, different veterinarians will use different methods. Naturally they will choose the methods that they are the most knowledgeable and comfortable with and that they feel are safest for your pet based on blood work, physical examination, disease, breed, age etc.
MYTH: Anesthesia drugs can harm my pet While all medications even a "simple" antibiotic have risks, very few pets will experience an unexpected reaction. Each drug has its time and place, which is why pre-operative examination, basic blood work and sometimes additional lab work are important before surgery. Additionally, it may be possible to temper the side-effects of some drugs. For example, some anesthesia drugs can indirectly affect the kidneys, which can be protected by keeping the patient on the proper amount of IV fluids. Please remember, anesthesia is very safe overall. What matters most is the nature of the drugs used, the knowledge of the people using them and the care provided to patients when they wake up from anesthesia.
MYTH: My pet is too young for anesthesia Young patients do present the veterinarian and their staff with a bit more of a challenge compared to adults. Pediatric pets are typically smaller and more sensitive, so they need anesthesia techniques and protocols to be tailored for them. For example, because of their usually smaller size, they lose heat quicker so their temperature has to be closely monitored and specific techniques should be used to keep them warm. Young patients also have fewer energy reserves than adults. This is the reason why your veterinarian may recommend a small meal the morning of anesthesia, whereas adults should be completely fasted overnight. Youth is not a reason to avoid anesthesia - however, your veterinarian should make sure pediatric patients are kept warm, vital signs are closely monitored and anesthetic drugs are chosen wisely.
MYTH: My pet is too old for anesthesia This is another big misconception. Old age is basically never a reason not to perform a surgical or medical procedure. Sure, it may be an issue in the owner's mind, but rarely in the veterinarian's opinion. Thanks to the advances in veterinary medicine, pets enjoy longer lives now than ever before. Although, like humans, As pets age their bodies change, resulting in a slower metabolism, greater sensitivity to medications and slower healing time. Geriatric patients often do need some additional pre-anesthesia screening including blood work, chest radiographs - to ensure their lungs are free of disease or cancer and an EKG to confirm they do not have any major heart problems. Once their overall health status has been assessed, the veterinarian can decide on any pre-anesthesia supportive care or medications. Anesthesia drugs should then be chosen to minimize side-effects for geriatric pets based on their specific condition. My philosophy is simple: age is not a disease! Cancer is a disease, a uterus full of pus pyometra is a disease, and a gallbladder about to burst is a disease, but age by itself is not.
MYTH: My dog is too sick for anesthesia Many pet owners think that their dog or cat cannot be placed under anesthesia repeatedly in a short span of time. While ideally your pets would not need frequent anesthesia, here are examples of times when they may: When pets get radiation therapy to treat cancer, their position has to be exactly the same to irradiate the tumor in the same manner every time. Since pets won't hold still long enough, this means they have to be anesthetized for every session. The "standard" protocol is to put them under anesthesia 5 days a week for 4 weeks. That's 20 anesthesia episodes within one month. And most do very well, even though many of these cancer patients are very sick already. A more common situation might be taking X-rays under sedation on a Monday, fixing a broken bone under anesthesia on a Tuesday and changing a bandage under sedation on a Wednesday. These days, there are many options for very safe drugs to perform sedation or anesthesia. These drugs leave the body quickly, so they have few harmful effects. Some drugs can even be "reversed," which means that we can give sort of an antidote to wake the patient up. Your veterinarian will carefully evaluate your dog's blood work and physical health status to determine if he is stable enough to be anesthetized, or what stabilization treatments are needed first. In some extreme or emergency situations, we may have no choice. A very sick patient may need to undergo anesthesia immediately to have the surgery that will make him feel better or save his life. For example, if a dog "bloats" or presents with a hugely distended or twisted stomach, he will need surgery as soon as possible. I will, however, give large volumes of IV fluids before anesthesia starts.
MYTH: My dog will be groggy for days after having anesthesia This concern is more often false than true. Sure, every pet, like every human, handles anesthesia differently. Even if two patients are given the same anesthesia drugs and undergo the same procedure, one may recover very quickly and act like nothing ever happened while the other may recover slowly and still seem a little groggy for a day or two. If your pet seems groggy a few days after a procedure, it is important to let your veterinarian know - your vet can look up records to see what drugs were used and adjust accordingly with alternate drugs or lower dosages. A sleepy pet may be a sign of an underlying condition. However, in most cases, pets are not really groggy from the anesthesia - rather they are groggy from their pain medications, which can sometimes cause sedation. Most modern anesthesia drugs are processed by the body within minutes to hours. Again, please double check with your veterinarian.
MYTH: There is no danger Anesthesia is safe most of the time, some pet owners seem to take it for granted. Whether a procedure is performed under sedation or anesthesia and despite a pre-surgical exam, blood work and sometimes further diagnostic tests, any pet could have a rare reaction to a medication. This doesn't mean that you should be overly paranoid. All it means is that anesthesia should be taken seriously, and that you should talk with your veterinarian before your pet is sedated.
Losing a pet is one of the hardest things a person can endure. True animal lovers know that saying goodbye to their fur baby is like saying goodbye to a best friend. They stand by your side through thick and thin and their unconditional love and companionship is incomparable to any other. Whenever we are forced to finally let go, many of us will choose to memorialize our pets in one form or another. Some may even want to carry their loyal companion with them permanently in the form of a tattoo. At least, that's what these owners decided to do and their artwork is sure to tug at your heartstrings.
PetGraveBook.com is a website where users can create virtual memorials for their lost pets. If you too have lost a pet, we invite you to sign up and use our free service. It's always here to gracefully lighten up your pet's grave, with candles that always shine and flowers that never die. WWW.PETGRAVE BOOK.COM
Many people who have a pet consider it as a part of family. Not only when they live and provide us with happy times, but also when they pass away. We honour them as family members and therefore we would like to preserve our memories when they leave us to pet's heaven. WWW.PETS MEMORIES.COM
VIRTUAL PET CEMETARY This article proudly presented by
Your pet may seem to be one of the family members and it when it passes away, a proper closure is sometimes needed and often therapeutic.
You can find many pet cemeteries online that allow you to post an epitaph, photos, and more.
Even though your pet is no longer with you, you can still hold onto the memories of its cherished life and share them with others. Visit your pet's memorial and help yourself through grieving for your lost pet with your virtual pet cemetery plot.
The Final Farewell: How to Handle a Pet's Remains Many pet owners never even think about this issue until their vet suddenly asks, "What do you want to do with the body?" Needless to say, this is not the best time to think calmly and rationally about all the options available and arrive at a well thoughtout decision. Unfortunately, this often leads to a hasty decision made at the height of painful emotion and a decision that one may later regret.
The only alternative is to consider this decision ahead of time. Asking yourself what you want to do with your pet's remains while that pet is still alive and healthy isn't ghoulish. It's a responsible way of facing, and dealing with, a painful reality. It also gives you an opportunity to evaluate all the factors that may be involved in such a decision.
The first factor to consider is your own feelings about death, loss, and remembrance. When you face the death of a pet, your goal will be to preserve the memory of that pet and your decision should be based on how you think that memory can be best preserved.
Many people feel that providing a dignified burial or cremation for a pet is a final, fitting act of farewell. They feel that it is the last act of love that they can offer a pet, and it is also, quite often, an important act of closure. Actually being able to view, touch, and say farewell to a pet's body can help one accept that the pet is really dead, that it is not going to come back, and also that it is not suffering in any way. If it is important to you to see that your pet's remains are treated with the same concern and care that you gave your pet during its life, then you should look into home burial, pet cemetery burial, or cremation through a pet crematory.
Here's a closer look at these options: Home Burial. Many people choose to bury a pet at home as a way of keeping it close a part of one's world, even if it isn't a part of one's life. This can also provide a way for you and your family to celebrate a funeral and memorial service, which in themselves can be powerful coping tools. Some pet owners have also reported that their surviving pets seem to understand that their companion is still present, and report that those pets may spend time visiting the gravesite. Home burial provides the opportunity to create a permanent memorial to one's pet a grave marker, a statue, or perhaps a tree planted over the pet's grave to serve as a living memorial. (Others choose to bury a pet under an existing shrub or tree that the pet liked to sleep under.)
In some circumstances, however, home burial may not be an appropriate option. The most obvious is if you have no place in which to bury a pet. You must also be sure that you can dig a deep enough grave to ensure that your pet's remains will not be disturbed or become a health hazard. (Don't bury a pet in a flowerbed that is likely to be redug and replanted.) Many cities prohibit home burials. You also might not wish to bury a pet at home if you rent, or if you are likely to move away from the property.
Cremation. If you would still like to keep your pet's remains on your property, but don't have a place to bury an actual body (especially that of a large pet), consider having your pet's remains cremated and returned to you for burial. This still has the advantage of keeping your pet "at home," but bypasses health problems or the concern that the pet's remains might be disturbed later. Or, you can keep the pet's ashes in a decorative urn or container; you'll find a wide range of such products in the classified ads of any pet magazine.
Many pet owners choose to scatter a pet's ashes rather than preserve them. Some choose to scatter the ashes in the pet's own yard, where it lived and played; this is another way of bringing the pet "home" one last time. Others choose to scatter the ashes in a way that symbolizes setting the pet "free" for its final journey -- such as in the woods or over a body of water, or just into the wind. Pet crematories can now be found in many cities; a pet crematory can usually pick up your pet's remains from a veterinarian or from your home. Some veterinarians also provide cremation services; some will do so at no extra charge if they have euthanized your pet or if it dies at the vet's office. (Not all veterinarians provide this service, so it might be advisable to check this in advance.)
Cemetery Burial. You'll find pet cemeteries in nearly every state; some have literally dozens. For many, a formal cemetery burial seems a more fitting tribute than an informal "backyard burial". Burial in a pet cemetery also ensures that your pet's remains will remain undisturbed, and cared for, "in perpetuity." You will not have to worry about what will happen to your pet if you have to leave the property on which it is buried. It will be cared for, no matter where you go or what happens to you. Cemetery burial can be a costly option, but many find it a comforting, secure way to handle a pet's remains. A pet cemetery will usually be able to pick up your pet from your home or from a veterinarian's office. If you wish, you can make arrangements for a complete funeral and memorial service.
How to Conduct a Pet's Funeral The death of a beloved pet affects the family in a way which is shared almost universally. For children, the death of a pet may be their first experience in confronting the death of a loved one, in particular, and mortality in general. Like adults, children find reassurance in the enacting of communal rituals, and therefore pet funerals are as common as they are healthy. Services for small pets like fish or gerbils can be conducted at home with little fuss.
1. Allow the child to select an appropriate "coffin" for the deceased pet. This may range from a matchbox to a cigar box to a shoe box. In some cases, a pretty and appropriate bag or piece of material might also serve to wrap up the deceased.
2.Have family members gather together somberly, with the child who assumed primary responsibility for the pet assuming the role of minister.
3. Say a eulogy praising the pet's qualities. Members of the family may also share significant personal memories of the pet at this time.
4. Offer some sort of prayer, if you are religious.
5. Bury the pet's coffin in a flower bed or restful area of the backyard.
Have the child say a few words sitting beside the newly buried pet. Plant or place a little flower or rock as a gravestone to mark where the pet was buried.
Remember, it is sad when any type of pet dies. It does not matter on the shape or size, so don't assume that your child won't be sad if the animal that passed away was even just a goldfish. Any loss is a loss, treat a funeral like a nice peaceful funeral, like the goldfish was as important as a dog.A child's emotion is fragile. Think of it as the pet being in a better place. Don't think about the death.
Even single adults can find solace in a pet funeral. Don't let your friends or relatives make you feel bad because you treat your animal companions with respect and mourn their passing!
Allow your child to design the service as much as possible, You may be surprised at your child's sensitivity and emotion.
Do not buy your child a another pet immediately. Everyone needs time to mourn.
Put things your pet loved or something you love in the coffin with your pet.
Tell your child that their pet is in heaven and is very happy there.
COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR DEAD DOG This article proudly presented by WWW.PETFUL.COM
Setting all skepticism aside, in order to communicate with your dead pet, believers will need a good pet psychic. It's easier said than done.
Do you think it's possible that you can communicate with your dead pet? There is a pet psychic in New York City with the natural ability to read energy auras, not only in humans, but in canines, felines, and the occasional chicken, horse, elephant and monkey. And she does this from a single picture. Seriously. Through a process she calls photo sensing, she senses the energy, vibration, colors and energy surrounding your critter.
Dates appear above the animal's head, and the picture begins to move like in a movie, the dog psychic explained. I can see the buildings, clothing and surroundings related to the past life. Not many pet psychics are tapping into an animal's past lives, and people are interested to know their pets on a deeper level.In our year together, Bandit has established himself as a member of the family, and I at least like to think that he is moderately happy with the life of leisure I have provided for him. But who really is this creature with whom I spend so much time, and more important, what is he thinking when he quizzically gazes at me? You know the look.
As instructed, I e-mailed two photos to the pets psychic: one of myself and one of Bandit sitting proudly on a rock in Central Park. The psychic offered me a phone reading based on these images.
Some of the observations didn't correlate with what I felt to be an intimate knowledge of my pup. But, then again, I don't mind thinking of being with Bandit (Joy) in 19th-century Europe. That seems a rather regal way of looking at our relationship, and at worst, this telephone reading from a pet psychic was great fun.
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