Question of the week: How do you deal with the death of a pet?

Whether it is expected or not, when a pet dies we often experience an intense sense of loss. The feelings that arise can often be overwhelming and hard to process. It’s challenging  to think about our furry companions leaving us. It’s certainly the last thing on our minds when we take those puppies and kittens home.

Sometimes death happens naturally and other times, we as owners are put in the tough situation of having to decide if it is the right time to euthanize. This can be a somewhat agonizing decision and should be arrived at after consulting with your veterinarian. The answer is not always clear, but knowing all the potential treatment options, prognosis and quality of life should at least guide you to a more educated and thoughtful choice.

It is important to know that you are not the only one that may be struggling to come to terms with what has happened. The University of Hawaii has even conducted a study showing that among 137 cases of pet loss, 30% of the study determined that pet owners experienced grieving their pets over 6 months.

Fortunately there are many resources out there to help you navigate through grieving your pet. Here in Berkeley, the East Bay Humane Society hosts a Pet Loss Support Group and UC Davis has a great page of web links that reference hotlines you can call. There are also a lot of good books dealing with the topic. If you feel you need more individual attention, there are many licensed therapist that specialize in pet loss. Sometimes just having someone to talk to makes all the difference.

There is much more to say on this topic, far more than we can cover in our weekly question feature. Please let us know if you have any questions or concern regarding this issue.