March 20, 2013

Dealing With a Loss of a Pet

One of the saddest aspects of pet ownership is coming to terms with the death of a beloved pet. Our pets are part of the family and as such, it’s only natural that we mourn and grieve their loss.

What to expect emotionally

While some (mostly those who don’t own a pet themselves) scoff at the idea of mourning a pet, it’s actually a perfectly normal and natural response. The stages of grief for those who have lost a pet are in fact very similar to those who have lost a family member or loved one.

While the length of the mourning and grieving process is individual to each circumstance, the following emotions and stages are quite common:

Stage one: Denial – Typically, this stage lasts the shortest and occurs when the owner hasn’t yet accepted, or come to terms, with the loss.

Stage two: Anger – In the next stage, many pet owners channel their anger towards a third party for the loss of their pet.

Stage three: Guilt – There will always be the ‘what if’ component of any loss and it’s normal for a pet owner to feel guilt over what they could have done, even if there were no other options.

Stage four: Depression – The final stage of grieving is typically personified by a deep sadness that permeates the pet owner’s life and reduces their motivation.

Coping mechanisms

Thankfully though, there are coping mechanisms that you can put in place to help deal with the death of a pet, the first of which is to allow yourself to grieve. Whatever you are feeling, acknowledge the emotion and let it run its course. The following, lists some coping mechanisms you can try:

• Where possible, speak to friends, family and loved ones about your loss.
• Prepare a tribute to celebrate the life of your pet. This could be a scrapbook, a letter or a poem to your pet.
• Make a difference to the lives of other pets and either volunteer your time at an animal rescue organization or donate money on behalf of your pet.
• Seek the support of professionals, whether that is your own family therapist or an organization like The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement. The American Veterinary Medical Association also has pet loss support hotlines available for your use.
• If the sight of your pet’s belongings upsets you, you can put them away during your mourning period or donate them to charity.
• You can organize a memorial or funeral for your pet. This is one of the more practical aspects to consider. Whether you choose to create a burial in your backyard, or plant a tree in your pet’s honor, the final resting place of your pet is a special and important decision.
Other tips

• If you have other pets, understand that they may experience grief too, even if it’s just in response to your own.
• Do not bring a new pet into your life until you feel completely ready. You must be emotionally up to the demands of a new pet and able to dedicate yourself to their upbringing.
• If you have children in your family, be honest and open about your pet’s death and support your children through their grief.

And finally, be kind to yourself. This is a difficult and emotional event in any pet owners life. Ensure that you take care of yourself and give yourself the time and the space to move on.

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June 8, 2010

Choosing the Right Pet Bird for Your Family

Filed under: Choosing a Pet Bird,Pet Birds — Dr. Amber Reed @ 4:40 pm

Yellow CanaryPet birds are becoming nearly as common as dogs and cats these days but considering the wide variety of species of birds and the care required for each, it’s important to take some time to think about what kind of bird is best for your family.  Did you know, for example, that some birds live up to 100 years?  Other birds have specific dietary requirements; and if you’re considering a pet bird because you think they are lower maintenance than dogs and cats, think again.  Before buying a pet bird you should think carefully about the size of the bird, its behavior, and the kind of care it will require.

As far as the size of the bird is concerned, larger pet birds tend to require more work from the owner.  While they make great pets, large birds are usually louder and more challenging to care for than smaller species.  Consequently, it is usually recommended that first-time bird owners go for a small or medium sized bird.  Each bird, regardless of size, will have different training, housing, and social interaction requirements so be sure to ask lots of questions at the pet store.

In addition to the size of the bird, its behavior and temperament are also important.  Some birds are quite timid and don’t respond well to coming out of their cages while others thrive in social situations.  While there is a lot of variability within species regarding behavior and temperament, some birds are naturally more social and enjoy being touched.  If you don’t want to spend a lot of time handling your pet bird, it is better to choose a breed that is more comfortable in solitary.

Finally, make sure to do your research about the kind of care your bird will require.  Some birds need to eat a special diet; some birds can feed on seeds and grains while others need fruit, pollen, and nectar.  Remember that birds differ from species to species and unless you know exactly what you’re looking for you need to ask very specific questions at the pet store before coming home with a pet bird.

April 29, 2010

Avian Aspergillosis: Respiratory Tract Infections in Birds

Filed under: Pet Birds,pet health,Pet Symptoms,pets,respiratory infections — Dr. Amber Reed @ 1:52 pm

Bird owners are probably aware that respiratory tract infections are quite common in pet birds, especially Aspergillosis.This condition is caused by a fungal infection in the bird’s airways and the subsequent illness can be quite serious.Depending on the type of infection, Aspergillosis in birds can be associated with a variety of symptoms.Generally speaking, there are two forms of Aspergillosis in birds: acute and chronic.

Avian Aspergillosis Acute bird aspergillosis is more often seen in young or recently imported birds and the symptoms tend to last only a short while despite being more severe.The main symptoms of the acute form of this respiratory tract infection include lack of appetite, breathing problems, and possibly death.In fact, left untreated, aspergillosis in birds causes air sacs in the lungs to become inflamed and the bird’s lungs may become congested with white mucus.On the other hand, chronic aspergillosis in birds is more common in older, captive birds.The infection may develop over a long period of time with several symptoms becoming apparent over the course of the illness.Listlessness, loss of appetite, weakness, depression, and breathing difficulties are the main symptoms of the chronic form of this bird respiratory tract infection; moreover, some of the symptoms may become permanent.Bone changes may occur and the upper respiratory tract may become misshapen.Chronic aspergillosis can also spread to the nervous system which causes tremors, loss of coordination, and in severe cases paralysis.

Avian aspergillosis is caused by fungal contamination of food or water sources in addition to nest boxes, incubators, and ventilated regions. This particular bird respiratory tract infection may also have a variety of environmental causes but when it’s caught early it can be treated therefore any time you notice respiratory tract issues in your bird, visit a veterinarian immediately.

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Disclaimer: CritterCures is an educational resource, and all information herein is strictly for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure diseases, nor is it meant to replace the (prescribed) treatment or recommendations of your veterinarian or healthcare provider. Always inform your veterinarian or healthcare provider of any products that your pet are taking, including herbal remedies and supplements.