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We don't want to give it much thought but the moment will arive for every pet owner: saying goodbye to your pet. In many case, the life of our pets end naturally, put in some cases pet must be put to sleep which is a very difficult decision for every pet owner. Either way, the death of a pet causes a lot of grief and this is a normal process. Yet there are still taboos around mourning for pets. Fortunately, it is totally up to you how you cope with your loss, this is anindividual process. This is what you should know when your pet dies.
When is the right time...?
Fortunately, our pets are getting older thanks to better knowledge about health and care. But this also means that more pet owners are confronted with the question of of euthanasia. Because how do you decide what's the right time to let go? Fortunately, your vet can give you good advice. He or she probably knows the (medical) history of your pet and can advice you about prognoses and quality of life. Take a good look at whether your animal is still enjoying the day-to-day things like eating, cuddling, walking or playing. Keep in mind that animals do not "complain" when they are in (constant) pain. They like to hide their grief for us. Euthanasia can - no matter how hard - can stop the unnecessary suffering.
Rituals around grief and goodbyes
Taking the time to say goodbye to your pet is important for your grief process. If you have children, it's important to involve them in this process and let them talk, play, cry or create. You could make a drawing together or put together a photo book with beautiful pictures of your pet.
After death you can choose to bury or cremate your pet at a special pet cemetary. After a cremation you can also choose to scatter the ashes in a special place in nature or to keep them in an urn or even a special piece of jewelry. Many pet owners find it a comforting idea to bury the animal in their own garden. The rules for this differ per region but usually, you can have small pets buried on your own property: a maximum of 1 meter deep and not wrapped in plastic.
If you're someone that doesn't value a special cremation or funeral, you can decide to have your pet picked up via the vet or your municipality. The animal is then processed by a rendering company.
Another a nice way to give meaning to the death of your pet is the animal donor license. You can then donate the remains of your pet to science.
Mourning for all animals
A pet can really be an important companion in life. Mourning doesn't make a distinction in pets: one might mourn the loss of their dog, others might grieve for their guinea pig or rabbit. Process your loss in your own way and do what feels good to you.
Health insurance for pets
At the end of life you can be confronted with extra costs. If you decide not to provide euthanasia yet but use palliative care instead (care aimed at a comfortable end of life), you have to take into account considerable additional health costs. That's why it might be wise to start putting money aside or apply for a pet health insurance. There are no special funeral insurance policies for pets, but keep a cost of between 80 and 200 euros for a funeral.
'A new pet so soon ...?
If your pet passed away, the house can feel pretty empty and quiet. That's why many people decide to have a new pet. Some pet owners want to wait a while because they feel that the previous pet cannot be replaced. Others choose to mourn and to welcome their home to a new pet at the same time. Here too, there are no rules for grief so do what feels right for you. It is possible though, that another pet at your house will miss their deceased friend too. In that case, it may even be recommended to take a new pet. Certain animals like rabbits and guinea pigs can't live alone and need a friend to stay happy and healthy.
Pet sitting or doggy daycare
There are also many Pawshake friends who decide start pet sitting after their pet passed away. They make their house available for doggy daycare for example. This can be a great solution if you're not ready yet for a new pet, but want to enjoy the companionship of animals and help your neighbours out at the same time. Sign up as a pet sitter here.