Current research demonstrates that, for some individuals, the loss of a pet is comparable to the loss of a family member (Clements, 2008; Donohue, 2005; Davis, 2003; Sharkin, 2003; Podrazik, 2000). What this means is that the grief process and emotions we feel when a pet dies, can be very similar to the process and emotions we feel when a family member dies. Companion animals can be a part of the family, requiring time, care, and attention. Their absence can be felt not only by the primary caregiver, but by other family members as well (Clements, 2008; Sharkin, 2003). Some researchers have found that initial grief for a pet’s death can typically last from 6 to 12 months (Wrobel, 2003; Adrian, 2009), though there may always be some level of sadness experienced when remembering the loss of your pet (Clements, 2008). If you have questions about your pet’s life expectancy, end of life care, or grieving the loss of your pet, please contact your veterinary office for support and/or visit the resources below.
It has now been 2 years since the death of my dog, Rusty , a long time patient of the Mobile Veterinary Clinic. Although at times I still get sad while remembering his loss, I know that, for me, it is not only ok, but also healthy, to allow these feelings. Please feel free to post below in memorandum of your pets that have passed on and reflect on the joy they brought you during your time together.
Disclaimer: All photos are property of the Mobile Veterinary Clinic and shall not be reproduced without permission.
ASPCA Pet Loss Hotline (877-Grief-10) and additional resources at website (www.aspca.org)
Tufts Pet Loss Support Hotline (508-839-7966) and additional resources at website (vet.tufts.edu)
UPenn Pet Grief Counselor (215-746-8247) and additional resources at website (www.vet.upenn.edu)
Adams, C. L., Bonnett, B. N., & Meek, A. H. (2000). Predictors of owner response to companion animal death in 177 clients from 14 practices in Ontario. JAVMA, 217, 1303-1309.
Adrian, J. A., Deliramich, A. N., & Frueh, B. C. (2009). Complicated grief and posttraumatic stress disorder in humans’ response to the death of pets/animals. Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, 73, 176-187.
Clements, B. T., Benasutti, K. M., & Carmone, A. (2008). Support for bereaved owners of pets. Perspectives in Psychiatric Care, 39, 49-54.
Davis, H., Irwin, P., Richardson, M., & O’Brien-Malone, A. (2003). When a pet dies: Religious issues, euthanasia and strategies for coping with bereavement. Anthrozoos, 16, 57-74.
Donohue, K. M. (2005). Pet loss: Implications for social work practice. Social Work, 50, 187-190.
Hewson, C. (2014). Grief for pets Part 2: Realistic client care so that you ‘do no harm’. Veterinary Ireland Journal, 4, 431-436.
Podrazik, D., Shackford, S., Becker, L., & Heckert, T. (2000). The death of a pet: Implications for loss and bereavement across the lifespan. Journal of Personal and Interpersonal Loss, 5, 361-395.
Sharkin, B.S. & Knox, D. (2003). Pet loss: Issues and implications for the psychologist. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 34, 414-421.
Wrobel, T. A. & Dye, A. L. (2003). Grieving pet death: Normative, gender, and attachment issues. Omega, 47, 385-393.