Paws for Thought | When a pet crosses that rainbow bridge

SAYING GOODBYE: It is important we allow ourselves, our families and our pets to grieve when we lose a much-loved companion.
SAYING GOODBYE: It is important we allow ourselves, our families and our pets to grieve when we lose a much-loved companion.

Grief is a topic that is rarely discussed and usually avoided. Unfortunately, grief is often experienced when you have pets as it is highly likely that you’ll outlive them, but it is never easy when the time comes. 

Grief is a completely natural emotion. It is okay to express sorrow and there is no right or wrong way to do so. Everyone’s bereavement journey will be different. The lost pet is often more than just a ‘pet’, they are a companion, a family member and a friend. However, people often feel their grief is not appropriately acknowledged by others who perhaps don’t appreciate the loss.

It can also be difficult to deal with the loss of a pet when children are involved.  It is important to let children see your feelings and allow them to express theirs. Having an honest conversation about what has happened is critical to the children’s understanding of the situation. 

Our other pets also suffer from grief. Signs your pet is suffering can include; being withdrawn, lack of interest in play or anxious behaviours such as pacing, not settling at night or scratching at doors. They may also have changes to appetite, spend time looking for their lost animal friend or seek more physical contact from their owners.

To support your pet, keep up normal routines including walks and feeding times. Seek veterinary advice if your pet appears unwell or there is no improvement in appetite and anxious behaviours remain. Medication may be required until they adjust to the new situation.

Dealing with the loss of a beloved pet is difficult.  If we let ourselves grieve properly, our hearts will allow us to love another pet in the same way we did with the one that has passed over the rainbow bridge.