Understanding Pet Loss

February 14, 2019

Owning a pet can be one of the most enriching commitments an owner will make in their lifetime. The joy and unconditional love and faithfulness a dog, or cat can bring to the household, is a wonderful virtue of owning a pet.

Animals are faithful, loyal and often very forgiving of our mistakes and failures. They grow with the family and bond with their owners, taking part in their everyday experiences. To some, they are their most important friends in the world!

It is understandable then that pet owners may feel a huge sense of loss when their pet comes to the end of its life. The emotions experienced when a pet passes, or when having to make the decision to put them to rest, can be like losing a close friend or companion. Feelings of anger, denial, grief and guilt are all-natural responses felt by pet owners during this difficult time.

Sadly, however, the loss of a pet may be disregarded by others as unimportant. Often pet loss is not openly acknowledged or socially supported. Studies show that If not recognised, these unchecked emotions encountered can potentially lead to long term health problems for the owner. Knowing what to say, how to respond and where to find support for our clients’ during the time of pet loss is something the practice feels passionately about.

Recently, the team at Warwick Vet Clinic invited veterinarian Dr Michael O’Donoghue from People and Pets to talk about ways in which we can do improve on supporting our clients during this time. Dr O’Donoghue brought a wealth of experience from his time working with universities, speciality clinics and in industry and discussed ways how we can make it easier for people experiencing grief with the loss of their pets.

The day was a valuable experience. Our team now feels more confident in supporting our clients when the time comes to say goodbye to their pet; either in the clinic or in the familiar setting of their home.