Coping with the loss of your dog

One of the biggest downsides of owning a pet is that, more than likely, we will outlive our beloved animals.  Tips for coping with the loss of your dog are described below.

Before your dog passes
If you are aware that the passing of your pet is imminent, it can be helpful to plan one last special day with your dog.  During this day, try and do as many of your pet’s favorite activities as possible, including special treats and attention.  Giving a dog his or her “best day ever” can help the owner feel more at ease with the sad situation.

Allow yourself to grieve on your terms
People who do not understand the bond between human and animal may make the situation worse by proclaiming, “it’s just a pet.”  When coping with the loss of your dog, do not allow yourself to suppress your grief; understand that it may take time to fully cope with your pet’s passing, especially if your dog was a part of your life for a long period of time.  Never feel guilty for the way you feel, or allow another person to undermine the pain you are experiencing.

Maintain normal routine
Especially if you have other pets, it is important to try and maintain as normal a routine as possible.  This will really help in coping with the loss of your dog.  Continue to go for daily walks and keep your own meal times the same.  During the grieving process it is easy to stop taking care of yourself, which will ultimately make matters worse.  If you do have additional pets, they will be grieving the loss of their canine sibling as well, so it is important to provide them with extra special care during this time.

Reach out to others
Look to the support of other friends or family members who have experience coping with the loss of a dog at some point in their life.  These people will best be able to help you move on by sharing in your loss as well as opening up about their own experiences.

Join a Support Group
In some instances, seeking professional help may be necessary.  If you feel especially lost whilst coping with the loss of your dog, or as though you have lost a significant amount of meaning in your life, consider seeking the help of a professional.  Both one-on-one counseling and support groups are available.  You can find references through your veterinarian or primary physician.

Understand the importance of time
While you will always hold a special place in your heart for your pet, the pain of its absence will lessen over time.  It is important to continue on with your life as best as possible in the first days and weeks after your pet’s death, knowing that your grief will become easier to bear the further removed you are from the situation.

Don’t rush out to get a new dog
Finally, avoid the urge to immediately adopt a new dog after your pet passes.  Allow yourself adequate time to heal, or else you may be unprepared to deal with the responsibilities that a new dog requires.

If you still find it a struggle to be coping with the loss of your dog, seek some local advice:

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