Learn About Ailments | Pet loss

Pet loss

Pet loss can trigger the same feelings associated with bereavement and grief after the loss of a loved one. People suffering with pet loss can go through the stages of grief such as anger, disbelief and denial. Pet loss can be difficult to cope with around feeding times or moments in the day when the owner would walk or play with the pet.
Pet loss

In This Article
Causes of pet loss Symptoms of pet loss
Diagnosis of pet loss Related Terms

Pet loss is caused by the bereavement or disappearance of a much loved pet. The feelings are the same as if losing a family member or friend and the owner enters a mourning process that can trigger physical and emotional problems.

When losing a pet, the owner enters a process of grieving which is the body's coping mechanism for accepting loss. Without this process, emotions can bottle up leading to further and more chronic problems with health.

The symptoms of pet loss are the same as those of bereavement and grief and are experienced in stages. Initially, the news of the loss will trigger a stage of shock and disbelief (sometimes referred to as a numbness). Although it doesn't feel natural, this stage is actually a defence mechanism to prevent the body and mind being overwhelmed with emotional pain.

The second stage can involve more intense feelings such as anguish at which point it becomes difficult to make future plans (such as getting another pet). During this stage it is common to feel resentful, angry and guilty. The final stage is one of acceptance and hope for the future.

Pet loss can have strong associations to certain times of the day such as feeding times or the time of day when the pet would be taken for a walk.

Unlike humans, pet owners have the choice to euthanise a pet that is ill. This can be an extremely distressing choice to make but it is essential to discuss the option honestly and openly with your vet.  Prolonging the suffering of a pet to prevent your own emotional pain is unfair and doesn't help either you or the pet in the long term.

Pet loss is a form of bereavement and grief and a perfectly natural process to experience. In the majority of cases, no medical intervention is required even though it can take months to finally come to terms with the loss.

However, prolonged feelings of grief can lead to chronic problems such as depression so it is important to recognise when your quality of life becomes affected. You should visit your GP and discuss how you feel. If necessary, the GP will refer you to a mental health specialist such as a counsellor.

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