1. Give yourself permission to grieve because you have experienced a tremendous loss. For many of us, beloved pets are our “children”–companions who give unconditional love.
2. Realize that you are not going crazy when you grieve deeply for a pet. It is normal when you have sustained a great loss to feel debilitated for awhile. So take all the time you need to heal.
3. Know that guilt often accompanies grief, especially over pets. Because your pet couldn’t tell you that she was sick, you may feel guilty about not taking her to the vet sooner. Or you may feel responsible if your pet was killed after escaping from the yard. Guilt–which suggests that you could have done something–can mask the fear of being powerless to keep your pet alive.
4. Find a special way to say good-bye to your pet. Often, pet loss happens so quickly that you don’t have time to say the things you wanted. But you can do so even after a pet has died. Write a letter to your pet. Have a family ritual celebrating her life and acknowledging her death. Or look at a photo of your pet and tell her all you would have said if there had been time.
5. Pick a meaningful way to memorialize your pet. You can do a scrapbook, plant a tree, write a poem, or donate money in your pet’s name to a charity for animals.
6. If you decide to get another pet, do so only when you are ready. You will never be able to replace the pet you have lost; it takes time to invest emotionally in another.
7. Find at least one other person you can openly talk to about your loss. Share your feelings without censorship. Realize that family members or other loved ones grieve differently or may be in too much pain to support you.
8. Be especially good to yourself, because it takes lots of energy to grieve. Get extra rest. Eat a healthful diet. Drink lots of water. Avoid caffeine. Exercise moderately. Deeply relax through massage or meditation. For sleep problems, consider taking non-addictive herbal drops or capsules from a health food store.
9. Find creative expression for your feelings:
- Do journaling. Write down whatever you are feeling without criticism.
- Work out your feelings in clay. Be mindful of what you’ve created because it will
- have special meaning for you.
- Use pastels, oils, charcoal, crayons, pen, or pencil to draw your feelings.
- Make a collage that captures your feelings in pictures.
10. Try to do at least one thing each day that brings you joy. Fly a kite, take a walk, garden, watch the sunset, listen to music, or see a funny movie. Allow yourself to laugh! Laughter releases the body’s natural opiates and gives you a respite from pain.
Pet Loss Support Hot Lines:
University of California-Davis: 800-565-1526
Cornell University: 607-253-3932
University of Florida: 352-392-4700, then dial 1 and 4080
University of Illinois: 217-244-2273
University of Illinois: 877-394-2273
Iowa State University: 888-478-7574
Ohio State University: 614-292-1823 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tufts University: 508-839-7966
Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Vet Med.: 540-231-8038
Washington State University: 509-335-5704
ASPCA National Pet Loss Hotline: 212-876-7700
Pacific Animal Therapy Society: 250-389-8047
Because of Flowers and Dancers. S. Breckenridge, Santa Barbara, CA: Veterinary Practice Publishing Company, 1994
A Special Place for Charlee: A Child’s Companion through Pet Loss. D. Morehead, Broomfield, CO: Partners in Publishing, 1996
When Your Pet Dies: How to Cope With Your Feelings. J. Quackenbush and D. Graveline, New York: Pocket Books (Simon & Schuster), 1985
When a Pet Dies. F. Rogers, New York: Putnam Publishing Group, 1988
Cat Heaven. C. Rylant, New York: Blue Sky Press, 1997
Dog Heaven. C. Rylant, New York: Blue Sky Press, 1995
Pets Living With Cancer: A Pet Owner’s Resource. R. Downing, Lakewood, CO: AAHA Press, 2000
The specialty hospital accepts new clients by referral only. Animal Emergency & Trauma Center welcomes walk-ins and no referral is required for emergency treatment.
On your first visit, please plan to arrive 15 minutes before your appointment. You will be asked to fill out a short form that will allow us to create a record for you in our computer system. Depending on which specialist you are seeing, you may also be asked to fill out a short questionnaire concerning your pet’s current condition and past medical history.
Please bring with you all pertinent information from your family veterinarian, such as lab work and x-rays, and your current medications. If you wish, you may have your veterinarian fax us that same information instead of your bringing it. This information is critical to us and may delay diagnosis and/or treatment if we do not have access to it!