Dealing with the loss of a pet can be one of the most difficult times in your life. This is especially true if your pet was a companion animal that you had with you for years. The feelings that come with pet loss are often hard to manage and seldom go away easily. This can be complicated by guilt if you made the decision to euthanize your pet, or simply the emptiness you experience when your pet isn’t at the foot of your bed anymore. The reality is – pet loss can be traumatic and difficult. You might have a lot of questions, so here are a few responses that may help.
- How do I know if it is time to put my pet to sleep? Talking to your vet is probably the best way to determine if it’s right to euthanize your pet. If your pet seems to be lethargic, in pain, not eating or drinking or experiencing a decrease in his or her quality of life, it is definitely time to discuss end of life issues with your vet. Here is an assessment that can be useful in determining when it is time to let go of our beloved pets.
- Should I stay in the room while they put my pet to sleep? If you come to the conclusion that it is best to put your animal down, then you also must ask whether you should be in the room. Many owners like to be there to comfort their animal and experience closure. However, it can be traumatic watching your pet die. You must think about your own personal ability to handle the situation, and what you think will be best not only for your pet, but also for you.
- How do I explain this to my children? Being honest is important, but you ultimately must decide how much to tell your children. If you have children that are very sensitive and/or young, you might just want to explain that Fluffy is free of pain and will not coming home. Don’t tell your children that the pet “went away,” because they will expect it to come home. You might use this as an opportunity to have a real, honest conversation with your children about death and ways to cope with loss.
- When should I get a new pet? This depends on your family. Some people want to fill that void immediately and search for a new pet the day after their previous pet dies. Others need significant time for the wounds of pet loss to heal before even considering a new pet. Make sure that you feel ready to move on, no matter when you get a new pet.
Pet loss is tough, but using some guides, you will get through it. There are communities of people who want to support you and help you through this difficult time.
When you feel ready to adopt a new pet, consider adopting a special needs animal. Disabled and special needs animals are loving and caring; like others, these pets can help you cope with the grief of losing your animal. The Colorado Companion Animal Sanctuary has disabled pets for adoption. We are looking for loving homes and pet owners all the time. Visit our website to learn more about us and our mission.