The Vital Things Our Pets Can Teach Us About Love And Loss 

Our pets teach us about love and loss throughout their whole lives, but especially as they age, they look to us to provide the compassion and care they need, and when we lose them can indirectly remind us that it's okay to process feelings of grief to find closure.

By Iqra Butt | Published

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Pets are often considered beloved members of the family, providing companionship, love, and even therapeutic benefits to their owners. However, with the love that pets bring to our lives also comes with costs, responsibilities, and the loss of a pet. The loss of a beloved animal can be just as devastating as losing a human loved one, and the process of grieving can be equally difficult. 

There is a lot that pets can teach us about coping with grief. The loss of a pet can teach us the importance of acknowledging and expressing our emotions. By allowing ourselves to experience and process these emotions, we can begin to work through our grief and find a sense of closure.

While the benefits of pet ownership are undeniable, there are also significant financial costs associated with caring for a pet such as food, grooming, and veterinary care. These costs can add up quickly and be prohibitive. According to NPR,  something to consider is whether you have the money or not, the animal’s age, and if it will give them a short or long amount of quality time.

When caring for an ailing companion, it is essential to consult with a veterinarian to develop a treatment plan that addresses the pet’s specific symptoms. According to her interview with NPR, Veterinarian, Dr. Karen Fine touts the benefits of eastern medicine such as acupuncture, stating, “It works well for a lot of chronic conditions” that Western medicine might not help with your pets’ pain. However, it’s “not a silver bullet,” and used together can “reach the same goal.”

As the pet’s condition may change over time, it is important to monitor their symptoms and behavior closely. Providing pain relief measures, massages, or exercise can also be helpful. Sometimes pets will hide away and isolate themselves which could be an indication they are not feeling well, says Dr.Fine with NPR.

The cost of pet care also raises ethical considerations for owners. When we choose to bring a companion animal into our lives, we take on a responsibility to provide them with adequate emotional care, medical care, and attention necessary to maintain their quality of life. One of the most difficult decisions that pet owners may face is the decision to euthanize their pet. 

The euthanasia decision for a beloved companion animal is often made when a they are suffering from a serious illness or injury, and it can be a deeply emotional and painful experience for pet owners. However, euthanasia can also be a compassionate and humane choice that prioritizes the well-being and quality of life of our furry friends. Ultimately, the decision to euthanize a pet should be made with the best interests of the pet in mind, and with the support and guidance of a trusted veterinarian.

Dr.Fine recounts that one of her patients was a feral cat with an infected claw that spread its toes and stayed still. She says that “it was as if the cat knew” and “was asking for help”. She hypothesizes that during these times, animals can have a “body-mind connection” that helps them comprehend what they’re experiencing. 

By recognizing the impact that pets have on our lives, we can better appreciate the responsibility that comes with pet ownership and the importance of providing them with the care and love that they deserve. Companion animals teach us so much through the journey of loving them and losing them. It is important to approach these issues with compassion, empathy, and a deep commitment to our animal companions.