1200 Bald Hill Road, Warwick, RI 02886 | p: 401-828-5767 | f: 401-826-8903

westpaws@westpaws.com  © 2015 WestPaws Veterinary Center

Contact us today!

  • Facebook - White Circle
  • White Blogger Icon
  • Google+ - White Circle
  • Twitter - White Circle
  • Yelp - White Circle
WestPaws VetSource Online Store

Pet Loss and Bereavement Services

 

Losing a pet is like losing a beloved member of the family. Grieving over this loss is normal and natural, and it is both an emotional and physical burden to bear. While the hurt of losing a pet never truly goes away, dealing with the grief does become easier over time.

 

On this page you will find helpful resources, including links to other pet loss and support websites, regarding what to expect when your pet is nearing the end as well as how to cope with the loss after he has passed.

 

Coping with the loss of a pet

 

Grieving over the loss of a pet is normal and natural. Your pet was a beloved part of your family, a source of joy and unconditional love, and a constant part of your life. It is understandable and expected that the loss of that relationship is difficult to cope with and that you may be experiencing mixed emotions that might include sadness, anger, selfishness, frustration, or even guilt.

 

It is important to not deny yourself any feelings you may be having, even if it feels wrong to have them. Anger, denial, guilt, or depression are all natural parts of the grieving process. It is ok to cry, just as it is ok to laugh a little. Many people find comfort in sharing fond memories of their pets with family and friends after their pet is gone. Especially for children, drawing pictures, creating a collage, or writing poems can also help after the loss of a pet. It is important to allow yourself time to acknowledge any feelings you may have over the loss of your pet. In order to truly cope, you cannot continually push those feelings away.


Feelings of guilt or anger are not uncommon, especially if your pet was lost due to an accident or sudden illness. It is important to remember, though, that it is impossible for us to control all aspects of our lives. It does not help to dwell on the "if only's" and "what ifs." The sooner you can acknowledge and let go of your anger or guilt, the sooner you will be able to start resolving your grief.


Many people also feel guilty when they notice periods of time in which they are "forgetting to grieve." They feel they should be grieving 24/7 and anything less is disloyal to their pet's memory. However, it is normal to allow yourself moments of happiness after your pet has passed. Learning to enjoy yourself again is a natural step in the healing process. Allow yourself to have some fun, and even laugh a little! On the other hand,


If you find yourself struggling with constant reminders of your pet during particular times of the day, try filling that time with another activity. Often, rearranging your schedule to fill those times can help you process your grief and make it easier to bear. If you have surviving pets at home, spend some extra time with them. They are likely grieving the loss as well and will appreciate the affection. Overall, remember that everyone's timetable is different and that only YOU know how you are feeling and what will help you cope.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens during a euthanasia?

Understanding the process of humane euthanasia can make it easier to bear when the time comes. At WestPaws, every euthanasia appointment is prepared in a private room with a comfortable blanket for your pet. Human family members are welcome to attend. However, we strongly advise against bringing other pets along. They do not seem to experience the same benefits or feelings of closure as we do when it comes to witnessing their companion's passing and may add unnecessary stress to the process.

In most cases, your pet will first receive a catheter in his leg. Our euthanasia process includes two injections: a calming sedative prior and the final injection. The catheter allows us to easily and painlessly inject both medications without having to use additional needles.

The sedative is given first. This injection has a calming effect and helps alleviate any discomfort. It also gives you some extra time to spend with your pet to say goodbye. As the sedative takes effect, your pet will fall asleep and slip into unconsciousness.

When you are ready, the doctor will inject the final solution. Essentially an overdose of anesthesia medication, this final injection painlessly and nearly instantaneously stops heart and lung function. Since your pet is already unconscious, he does not feel anything. He will peacefully slip away within seconds. The doctor will confirm his passing by listening for the absence of a heartbeat.

In most cases your pet's eyes will remain open after death. Sometimes there may be involuntary muscle twitches as a result of the chemicals released by the nerves. In addition, since all of your pet's muscles are relaxed, urination and defecation sometimes occur after death. These are things you should be prepared for.

As difficult as it is to bear, humane euthanasia is the least selfish and most kind final gift you can offer your pet. If you do not wish to be present at the euthanasia, our staff promises to be with your pet the entire time, offering a loving pat and friendly voice.

We work with Final Gift Pet Cremation services for cremation and burial options. Of course, you are always welcome to take your pet home to bury as well. Please call us at 401-828-5767 to discuss the available options.

How do I know if my remaining pet is depressed?

Animals can experience a period of grief just like humans after the death of a close companion. Many times, they also perceive our sadness or discomfort, which compounds any feelings they may be having. Common signs of animal grieving can include:

 

  • unwillingness to leave the owner alone or clinginess

  • changes in appetite or activity level

  • depression or lack of interest in normal activities

  • crying or unusual vocalizations

  • inappropriate urinations or defecations around the house

  • searching for the lost pet

 

You can often help your pet cope by spending extra quality time with them, going on walks, or playing special games. If any of these symptoms becomes severe, contact your veterinarian for specific recommendations.

When should I get another pet?

There is no right or wrong timetable when it comes to getting a new pet. For some people, having a new pet was always part of the plan and the joy of loving another animal can help fill the emotional void left by your old pet. For others, the sense of loss is so great that it may take years to find the emotional strength for another animal. Despite what friends or family may tell you, only you will know when the time is right. Try casually browsing available animals when you feel ready. Wait for one to "speak" to you. If this fills you with sad memories, it is ok to wait.

Use caution if you find yourself drawn to pets that look just like your previous pet. Having a constant reminder of your old friend often makes it difficult for you to truly enjoy the new pet. Inevitably you will compare them to your old one as well.

Getting a new pet can ultimately help many people move forward, but everyone's timetable is different and you should give yourself plenty of time to personally deal with the loss first. It is difficult and often frustrating to build a new relationship if your emotions are still in turmoil over the loss of your previous pet.

It is not uncommon to feel some resentment over a new pet "taking the place" of the old one. However, these feelings are often an indication that it is too soon for you to get another pet. You should wait until you can look forward to loving a new companion without reminders of your old pet getting in the way. It is not disloyal to your old pet to get a new one, but it is unfair to bring a new pet into a house where the memory of the old pet is too fresh.

 

Getting a new pet can ultimately help many people move forward, but you should give yourself plenty of time to personally deal with the loss first. Remember, everyone's timetable is different. It is difficult and often frustrating to build a new relationship if your emotions are still in turmoil over the loss of your previous pet, especially if you feel some resentment over the new pet "taking the place" of the old one. When you feel ready for a new companion, it is often helpful to casually browse. A new pet will often find you.

 

Use caution if you find yourself drawn to pets that look just like your previous pet. Having a constant reminder of your old friend makes it difficult for you to truly enjoy the new pet, and inevitably you will compare them to your old one. It may be a sign that you are not emotionally ready to offer your love to another animal. Finally, do not allow feelings of disloyalty to the pet you lost to enter your mind. Offering your heart and home to another animal is not meant to replace your old pet.

Please reload

For more information on pet loss and bereavement, please visit the following sites: