Dealing with the Loss of Pet

by | General Pet Care |

In every pet owner’s life, a little rain must fall. For the many years of love and companionship that pets provide us, their lifespans are considerably shorter than humans. Cats live on average 12-15 years, and dogs tend to average around 13-15 years. Pets today have become more to us than just animals who reside in our houses, they have become beloved family members with nicknames, favorite foods and an integral part of our daily routine. When a pet dies, it can be heart-wrenching and very difficult emotionally for owners.

When my first pet Oreo died, I admit I was surprised at how deeply I felt the loss. It was as if a human member of my family had died, and although she was old and had lived a long and healthy life, her time had come. I couldn’t help but remember all the wonderful times that Oreo and I had together, from childhood onward. I went through my photo albums (as her puppy-hood was before the time of online photo albums and digital cameras) and began flipping through the pages that contained the images of her life within our family. There were photos of her as a young pup, before she was ready to be weaned from her mother on one of the first visits we made to see her. There she was in my arms, as if it was only yesterday. Pictures of romping through meadows, giving inquisitive looks at other animals and objects, grinning happily at the camera.

Naturally, this trip down memory lane did not come without tears. I missed her so much that my heart felt like it was going to burst, and I felt like I would have done anything to have her back with me. I felt like I would never be able to get over her loss. During this sad time, I learned about various in ways that would help me cope with the sad feelings I was experiencing after she passed away.

  • Acknowledge your grief and give yourself permission to express it.
  • Talk to your friends and family about your grief. There are hotlines available with toll free numbers for pet owners who needs to express their feelings.
  • Plan a memorial or gathering to celebrate the life of your pet.
  • Sometimes writing down your emotions and memories in a book or journal will help manage your grief.
  • Call your local humane society to find a pet loss support group that you can attend.

Although I will always miss my wonderful, loyal friend I know she will always be in my heart. The photographs of our happy times together are a tribute to our friendship. Cherish the times you have with your pet, and every time they do something that may irritate you, don’t forget they won’t be around forever.

To learn more about dealing with pet grief, visit the Canadian Centre for Pet Loss Bereavement online.