When a Family Pet Dies, Other Pets Grieve, Too

When a Family Pet Dies, Other Pets Grieve, Too
After the passing of a pet, your other pets may need extra comforting, too. (Cintya Marisa/Unsplash)
Q: Beau, our 1-year-old dachshund, had a small, round, pink mass on his ear. Scheduling an appointment with his veterinarian took longer than usual, and just before the appointment, the mass disappeared, so we canceled. What was the mass?
A: It sounds like Beau may have had a histiocytoma, a common skin tumor that usually disappears without treatment.

Histiocytomas generally form on dogs under 3 years of age on the front half of the body, often the head. Typically, they are round, raised, dome-shaped, hairless, firm pink masses less than an inch in diameter.

The most commonly affected dogs are dachshunds and boxers, although Labrador retrievers, Staffordshire terriers, and other breeds also develop them.

The immune system usually attacks these benign tumors, making them spontaneously regress within three months of their appearance.

Histiocytomas that don’t disappear in that time and those that cause discomfort or become infected should be removed surgically or through cryotherapy. Fortunately, they rarely recur.

Q: I live in an apartment and have elderly cats. After they die, what should I do with their bodies?
A: That’s entirely up to you. Many people who own houses bury their deceased pets in the yard, often placing a commemorative stone or planting a shrub or tree over the pet.

Other people bury their pets in a pet cemetery. Search the internet for local pet cemeteries, which are often associated with human cemeteries.

Your veterinarian may offer you the option of cremation, either group cremation or individual cremation with return of your cat’s cremains.

Two types of cremation are available: flame cremation and water cremation. Most people are familiar with the first, because it has been widely available for years.

Water cremation, also called alkaline hydrolysis, resomation, and biocremation, is newer. The process uses warm water and a small amount of an alkaline chemical, such as sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide, to reduce the body to liquid and bone.

This form of aftercare neutralizes any infectious organisms and drugs, including chemotherapy agents, so the liquid and bone are harmless. The bone powder resembles flame-cremated remains and can be returned to you.

Because water cremation is more environmentally friendly than flame cremation, it is becoming increasingly popular. To see if it’s available in your state, ask your veterinarian or visit CremationAssociation.org/page/alkalinehydrolysis.
Q: Lucas, our Labrador retriever, died recently, and we are heartbroken. Our two cats, Christie and Jimi, were very close to Lucas and seem to be as devastated as we are. They’re still eating, but they have become aloof since Lucas died. How can we comfort them?
A: I’m sorry to hear of the death of your wonderful Lucas, who was obviously much-loved.

Family pets are often more closely bonded than we realize, and it takes time for them to grieve a death. Cuddle Christie and Jimi more than usual. Leave Lucas’ bed in place and encourage them to sleep there.

Introduce some new cat toys, preferably interactive toys you play with together. Entertain Christie and Jimi by showing cat videos on your television.

Until the pain you are all feeling subsides, stay especially close and love each other.

Lee Pickett, VMD, practices companion animal medicine in North Carolina. Contact her at AskTheVet.pet. Copyright 2024 Lee Pickett, VMD. Distributed by Creators.com
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