Grieving the Loss of a Pet

By: | January 14, 2015

Grieving the Loss of a Pet

We grieve over the loss of a pet. This reaction is only natural. When we lose a pet we lose a friend. Our feelings toward pets are so special that experts have a term for the relationship: The human-companion animal bond. When this bond is severed, the sense of loss can be overwhelming. Our society does not offer a grieving pet owner a great deal of sympathy. Even a close friend may comment: “It’s only a dog (cat). You can always get another.” Such a reaction would be considered heartless given the loss of a human friend or family member.

People who have experienced such loss need the support of friends and relatives. Psychologists now know that we need as much support–but receive far less–with the loss of a companion animal. When a pet dies, there is rarely a formal ritual, such as a funeral, that allows for a formal out-pouring of grief. In fact, to many folks, such an event would seem bizarre or eccentric. Still, the loss of a pet affects our emotions, and all the more so if the pet was an integral part of the family. The feelings we have progress through several stages, very similar to those experienced after the loss of a human loved one. Recognizing these stages can help us cope with the grief we feel.

The First Stage: DENIAL
Denial is the initial response of many pet owners when confronted with a pet’s terminal condition or sudden death. This rejection seems to be the minds buffer against a sharp emotional blow.

The Second Stage: BARGAINING
This stage is well documented in the human grieving process. Many times, faced with the impending death, an individual may “bargain”–offering some sacrifice if the loved one is spared. People losing a pet are less likely to bargain quite that way, however there are reactions such as “If Spot recovers I’ll never skip his walk again… I’ll never put him in a kennel again…etc.”

The Third Stage: ANGER
Recognizing anger in the grief process is seldom a problem; dealing with anger often is. Anger can be obvious, such as hostility or aggression. Some anger can be turned inward and that anger shows itself as guilt. Here is where we hear such statements as “If only I had taken the cat to the vet a week ago…Not put the dog in the yard at that time of day…” Whether true or false, such reactions do little to relieve the anger and are not constructive. Check with your vet for the facts about why your pet died. Then remember the facts, not the possibilities, when you consider the loss of your pet.

The Fourth Stage: GRIEF
This is the stage of true sadness. Your pet is gone and so is your guilt or anger, now only an emptiness remains. It is in this stage that the support of family and friends can mean so much. Unfortunately, by the time we reach this stage many of those close to us believe we should have “moved on” and find it difficult to offer that support. When this is not available to us the grief stage can be prolonged. If you need assistance with this sadness, it can be a good time to contact your veterinarian or professional counselor for assistance. It is helpful to recognize that other pet owners have experienced similar strong feelings and you are not alone in this feeling of grief. Share the many things you remember about your special animal companion with a human friend.

The Final Stage: RESOLUTION
All things come to end–even grieving. As time passes, the distress dissolves as memories of the good times outweigh the trauma of your pet’s death. At this stage, it might be appropriate to consider adding a new member to your family. It could be time to visit your local shelter and see if you are able to find a friendship waiting to happen.

The Advantages of Adopting a Senior Dog

By: | January 14, 2015

The Advantages of Adopting A Senior Dog

Most people envision bringing home a fluffy, brand new puppy to “grow up” with their children. It is a pretty picture, but a lot of people don’t think about the work that goes into training a new puppy. Raising a puppy is a BIG commitment. Puppies need training, socialization, lots of exercise and almost constant activity. Without this, things won’t turn out the way you envisioned.

If you don’t have the time or don’t want to do much training, remember that adult dogs need homes, too. An adult dog is often a much more laidback roommate, without all the energy, and just as cute and affectionate. Plus, dogs can live well into their teen years – so don’t let their age stand in your way!

Here are some great reasons to adopt an adult dog…

  • Adult dogs are the hardest to be adopted from shelters.
  • They are often already house trained, obedience trained, and through the entire puppy and adolescence stages.
  • They have learned many of life’s lessons – they know shoes are for walking and bones are for chewing.
  • Most don’t need the same exercise regimen that a puppy needs and would rather cuddle up with you on the couch and take a nap.
  • They are already mellowed, so they can focus on life and anything you may want to teach them.
  • They settle into a new home easily – they’ve already learned what it takes to get along with others and become part of their “pack.”
  • They have learned that if they give lots of love, they will get lots of love and praise back.
  • Adult dogs have grown into their size, shape, and personality. Therefore, there is no guessing – What you see is what you get.
  • They are not as time-consuming as a puppy – you have more time to enjoy each other.
  • They are accustomed to human schedules – that means no nighttime feedings, potty breaks, or comforting.

Adopting an adult dog is a great way to save a life. People forget that they need homes just as much as puppies do. More often than not, these dogs are not turned into a shelter because they have problems, but because their human parents have problems.

Adopt an older dog from the Animal Protective Association and you will have a best friend for many years to come!

For more information or to meet with our adult dogs, please call the Animal Protective Association Adoption Staff at 314-645-4610 today!

Keep Pets Out of Cars in Warm Weather

By: | January 14, 2015

Remind your family not to leave animals unattended in a parked car for any period of time. On a day when the temperature is about 85 degrees, inside a car with the windows opened slightly it can reach 102 degrees within ten minutes. After thirty minutes, the temperature will reach 120degrees.

At 110º, pets are in danger of heatstroke. This can happen even with a car window partially open and the car is parked in shade. Pets are not able to cool off the way people do. Be on the lookout for animals that are overheated:

  • Look for signs of heat stress, such as panting, glazed eyes, unsteadiness, throwing up, hard time walking, or a deep red or purple tongue.
  • If your pet is overheated, lower her body temperature immediately. Do this by moving her to the shade and applying cool water all over her body to gradually lower her temperature. Apply ice packets or cool towels to your pet’s head, neck and chest only. Do not pour cold water on your pet or put your pet in a cold bath.
  • Let your pet drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes.
  • Take your pet to a vet immediately.

If you see an animal in a car showing any of these signs, ask one of your parents to call the police. Do not try to pet the dog or take it out of the car.

Make it a Safe Summer for Your Pet.

By: | January 14, 2015

Keep Your Pets Safe this Summer – Follow These Tips

  • Don’t leave pets in parked cars on warm days. Learn more here.
  • Dogs should never ride in the back of pick-up trucks. In a sudden stop or quick turn, dogs can be thrown from the vehicle and seriously injured or killed. Make sure your pet rides inside and wears a seat belt harness designed for dogs or is in a crate.
  • Take care when exercising your pet. On very hot days, limit your dog’s exercise to early morning or evening hours. Sidewalks and driveways can get very hot and can even burn your pet’s paws.
  • If you have a pool, make sure your pet can’t get to it when you are not around. If you want to play in the pool with your pooch, be sure to keep an eye on her.
  • Provide plenty of fresh water for your pets. When outside, be sure dogs have access to a shady area.
  • Be on the lookout for heat stroke. Signs include panting a lot, glazed eyes, a rapid pulse, walking unsteady, vomiting, or a deep red or purple tongue. Move your pet to the shade and apply cool (not cold) water to her body gradually to lower her temperature. Apply cold towels or ice packs to your pet’s neck, head, and chest only. Let your pet drink water or lick ice cubes. And bring her to a vet right away.
  • Don’t chain or tether your dog outside.
  • Keep your cat inside to keep her safe from other animals and cars.

Play It Safe with Dogs

By: | January 14, 2015

How to Stay Safe Around Dogs

Did you know about five million people each year are bitten by dogs? Kids are more likely to be bitten than adults and most of the dog bites are from the family dog.

But the good news is that most dog bites can be prevented.

Can I Have Your Attention Please?

Dogs are meant to be part of the family. They need lots of attention, just like we do. If you spend time playing with your dog, taking him for walks and teaching him new tricks, he will be better behaved.

Also, taking your dog to obedience school will do wonders. Teaching him the basics (sit, down, stay, and drop it) will help him be less likely to bite or be aggressive.

Don’t leave him outside or in a different part of the house and never leave your dog tied or chained outside for long periods of time.

What’s Up Doc?

Just like us, dogs need to see the doctor every year. They need check-ups and shots too. Also, have your dog spayed or neutered. Dogs who get the right medical care are less likely to be injured or sick and the chances of biting are decreased.

Do’s and Don’ts of Bite Prevention

Now you know what it takes to raise your dog responsibly, but how should you behave around your dog and other dogs? Don’t go near a dog who is sleeping, chewing something or eating. Never run up to any dog. Don’t pet or play rough with any dog. Always ask permission before petting someone else’s dog.

But, what if you follow the rules and a dog still threatens you? Pretend you are a tree. Stand very still with your arms at your sides. Look straight ahead, not at the dog. Most times, the dog will sniff you and leave. Don’t run – he will chase you. If the dog knocks you down, curl up in a ball and cover your ears like you do during a tornado drill.

If you are responsible and treat dogs with kindness and respect, you can stay safe around dogs. Plus, you will have a loyal and loving companion to share your life with. What more could a kid need?

Even though they can’t talk, dogs and cats can tell us their feelings. Click here to see how the way they act and look can help you understand if they’re friendly, angry or scared.