Helping Families Deal with the Loss of Their Pet

Small dog and middle age woman cuddlingTry as you might, some pets are beyond saving. The family may decide to let go and give the pet a painless death. Even if it’s their own decision, it will not be easy. Losing a pet is just like losing a person–a family member. As the pet’s doctor, you need to be there to help the family cope with the death.

Express Sympathy

As a veterinarian, you deal with a dozen or more pets every day. A family may only have one. This does not mean that you are the expert at dealing with a pet’s death and that you do not get affected, especially if you have been caring for the pet since its birth. Express your emotions in the form of heartfelt veterinary sympathy card messages to be sent out to the family.

Leave Your Line Open

If you’ve cared for the pet for a long time, their owners will be your friends to some degree. Ask about a pet funeral or a farewell to their beloved, and see if you can attend to show some support. You are one more person who cared for their pet and will understand the loss, so make yourself available to the grieving family. For some, a pet is more than a pet. It could be their closest family member, someone they wanted to be with them for longer than the time they had.

Ask About the Children

It’s not just the adults that need support. Children might have it worse, especially if they were close to the pet and do not understand what had happened. You can help the family explain to the child why they won’t be seeing their pet anymore. Tell them it’s normal to grieve and remind their parents that children need time to get over the loss too.

A pet is a companion, and its family will surely miss it. Don’t downplay the grief and help the family accept it too.