Losing a pet is never easy. The pain and sorrow that come with it can really knock you for a loop. Today I wanted to discuss how we cope with that pain while my own is still fresh in my mind.
Hi my name is Mike and I’m a dog lover and enthusiast. This website was started to create helpful content for dog owners out there with all kinds of canine related questions. Today we are discussing the topic of how to cope with losing your dog. Sadly, We had to put my family dog to sleep recently and it was a painful experience. I wanted to use this outlet I have to talk about it as well and hopefully bring some comfort to others who are going through the same thing.
Coping with the loss of your dog when it happens suddenly tends to be much easier than dealing with a prolonged illness. While a quick end may hold much more shock value, there is usually much less pain and suffering for both you and the dog. A sudden loss will still be painful of course but the process of grief and healing generally come into play much quicker here and being able to move on takes less time. How much time it takes will vary from person to person. My advice would be to let yourself feel how you do and take it day by day. Eventually, the good memories will hold a much stronger place in your mind.
If your dog has a disease or chronic condition that grinds away at them slowly, this can be a very painful thing to watch. There is more suffering involved all around and the quality of life for both you and your pet will be at an extreme low point until they pass on. During any kind of prolonged condition, it’s important to remain as objective as you can when a loved one is involved.
Decisions about treatment or when to put your dog to sleep are always tough questions and they can be hard to handle during any kind of prolonged illness. Taking the emotion out of any kind of decision about your pet is impossible. I try to keep the following in mind while I’m making decisions about my dog’s wellbeing:
- What is their quality of life like now?
- How much pain is my dog in?
- Will risky treatments be worth it (chemo etc.)?
There are other factors that come into play as well but this is definitely my starting point when dealing with any kind of unfavorable diagnosis. Understanding that keeping your dog around too long when they are in pain or putting them through some really toxic treatment methods may be selfish and more damaging to you and your family in the long run.
Moving On After A loss
The first few hours and days after a loss just plain stink. In my experience, there is nothing to do but feel how you do and let yourself grieve in whatever way you need to. Part of my grieving process is writing this article. While painful, there is a level of healing going on at the same time as well.
As the days and weeks pass, the pain you feel from this loss will diminish. Everyone will have a different healing process and timeline for recovery. That’s completely normal and you should never feel bad about either taking to long to heal or feeling like you are over the situation to quickly. Instead, I try to focus on the good memories of my dog and hopefully you have many many more of those than the few bad ones at the end.
Our family dog Milo just turned 10 a few months back. Up until that point he had some major health issues in his life but most of them were self inflicted.
When Milo was a puppy, he somehow cut his tail while he was outside on a walk one day. None of us noticed it until we got him back inside and his constant tail wagging started to redecorate our home in a vibrant red. Long story short, we had to take him to the vet and get his tail shortened quite a bit.
Milo also had a fondness for chewing and eating things that he shouldn’t when he was a young pup and this landed him in the vet a few more times over the years. All of this was treatable and none of it brought him too much in the way of pain but we quickly learned that he had a taste for mischief and door jams to boot!
About a year and a half ago, we noticed a mass growing on Milo’s side. He was taken to the vet immediately and the decision was made to have it removed. What the vet didn’t know at the time was how deep that mass went and how major the surgery actually became in the process.
Milo made it through ok and the mass was tested for any cancerous cells. Everything came back negative.
As the weeks and months passed after this surgery, we started to notice other masses spreading all over Milo’s body. Back to the vet we went and we had another suspicious one removed. This time the results came back as positive for cancerous cells and we were all greatly saddened.
Chemo was an option but it was not something that our vet had any real hope for. There were other mass sites that were developing on Milo’s body clearly indicating that this was spreading at an alarming rate. Our only real option was to make Milo comfortable and enjoy the time we had left with him.
Fast forward to this past Christmas. Milo hurt his leg jumping off the couch and couldn’t get around well for the next few days. Eventually, we took him to the vet to see if there was any temporary relief we could give him from that pain. The vet did give us some meds and we got through the holidays. Sadly, our vet discovered another tumor in the process and this one was growing at an alarming rate.
Now milo still had a pretty decent quality of life up until this point. He was still playing and eating with no real negative side effects from the medication.
About a week or so after Christmas, we started to notice blood stains on the floor and Milo. I’ll spare you all the details but suffice it to say that his tumors had started to give him some real trouble and quality of life was about to rapidly decline. It was at this point that I brought him back to the vet and had a very candid conversation with him. My vet gave me the facts about what was happening and what we could expect moving forward. He then laid out the available options. They all stunk.
I took these options back to my family and we made the decision to put Milo to sleep. It was not an easy call and there were many tears involved. Even in my grief though I know it was the right decision to make. Milo had a great relationship with the vet and his nurse so the process was very painless but those of us that remained after including the vet and nurse were all cut to our core.
This is where I am now. Grieving but trying to remember the good times with my little buddy. I tear up as I write this but I also understand one fundamental truth, “All Dogs Go To Heaven!”
Goodbye Milo. You will be missed!