Pet owners often experience complex and profound grief reactions when their animals are euthanized. Veterinary staff are increasingly being called upon to be aware of and to respond to the grief reactions of pet owners at this critical time. The objectives of this study were to identify pet owners who are most at risk of grief and to suggest veterinary interventions during the euthanasia process. A convenience sample of 409 pet owners whose animals had been euthanized in the past year took part in a survey. Variables of interest included pet and pet-owner demographics, pet-death characteristics, attachment to pet, and bereavement reactions. Stepwise multiple regression analyses were conducted to identify factors related to the three grief reaction subtypes: sorrow, anger, and guilt. Results indicated that attachment to pets was a strong predictor of feelings of grief/sorrow (p < 0.001) and anger (p < 0.001). Sudden death was also related to feelings of anger (p < 0.05). Cancer diagnosis was negatively related to feelings of anger (p < 0.05) and guilt (p < 0.01). The findings from this study provide additional insight into the complexity of grief following pet euthanasia. For veterinary staff, anticipating the needs of pet owners and supporting them through the grief process is an integral role. Understanding which pet owners are at greatest risk of grief is an important initial step, followed by empathic communications, sensitive interactions, and the provision of grief support.
|Publisher||Taylor & Francis|
|Author Address||School of Social Work, University of Montana, Jeannette Rankin Hall 014, Missoula, MT 59812, USA.firstname.lastname@example.org|
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