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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Coping with the loss of a pet

Losing a pet is hard, they are the constant companion who listened without censure.  They are the comforter who stayed up with you all night, or when your human companions were ill/away.  They are with us for such a short time, but take up such a large part of our hearts.  Everyone feels differently about their pet and their grief, don't poo-poo anything.  If you're feeling it, it's real.  Take time to be honest about your emotions and validate they exist.  Denial, guilt, anger, and depression are all real reactions to the loss of a pet, and can be overwhelming.  Find an outlet for these feelings, either with good friends or with a professional who can help you work through the pain.  Don't stuff them inside, do activities, talk to pet loss counselors, find a support group, commemorate your pet, do waht it takes to work through waht you're dealing with.  Memorials, volunteering, etc can all help you as you decide where to go.  And don't forget to watch out for your other pets and children, they can grieve as much as you do.  Healthy coping mechanisms must be found for everyone.
The local veterinary group has an excellent pet-loss support group that meets weekly, contact the DAVMS for this info.
There are also excellent reading sources for children and adults alike, most are available through your local library.  The 10 best things about Barney is one of my favorites.  There were so many listed on the site when I searched, that I recommend doing the search and picking out the ones that interest you.  
Should you get another pet is one of the bigger questions I hear also.  The fact is, you can't replace the pet that passed on, but in time you may be ready to share your heart with a new bundle of joy.  Give yourself the time you need to heal, and when you're ready rescue a new best friend.  Then take the time to socialize and learn about this new pet.  Time will eventually heal your painful memories, so that the happy memories of the new good times can be shared.

poison info from the ASPCA website - PLANTS and FOODS; winter, etc
These 2 spots list the variety of plants and foods that our pets cannot get into without sometimes severe consequences.  Most people know some things such as lilies and chocolate, but these lists include sago palms and raisins and other weird stuff.
Fall is also the time for more problems from anti-freeze.   Either because more people are adding it in, or because the spills are the only available "water" the animals can find.  This toxin doesn't take much to destroy the kidneys of animals, so be sure to clean up and get rid of any spills you find.
With winter around the corner, I also need to mention te "salts" used for snow/ice removal.  Be sure to get a pet friendly type, and stay away from any you don't know.  I usually recommend booties to decrease contact, then wash their feet when you get home.  Leave your boots and shoes with toxins on the soles outside/ in the mudroom, or in closed closets also.  Even residues on the carpet can make a pet sick over time, so why take the chance?
Heartworm is off our minds since the musquitoes are decreasing, but don't stop that preventive!!!  The musquitoes have the ability to hibernate, so any that awaken, even in winter, can be infective.  Once an infected source is available, the problems just continues to spread.  We're dry, but we do have musquitoes, and unfortunately some positive dogs.  The preventive is so much easier than the treatment, and so much less expensive too.
Our outdoor water still contains giardia, leptospirosis, as well as some other less common nasties.  Not all water has all infectious diseases, but why take the chance at all.  Pack in water for you and your pets, and get the vaccine for lepto if your dog just can't help himself.  This important zoonotic disease is ugly, so get your dog vaccinated and keep them that way.
Spring is Canine influenze season, the vaccine is available at some area vets, I'm not carrying this one at this time due to the extremely rare prevalence in this geographic area at this time.