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There for You: Attending Pet Euthanasia and Whether this Relates to Complicated Grief and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

By Julie Ann Luiz Adrian, Alexander Stitt

Category Journal Articles
Abstract

Recognizing the deep relationship between grief and the loss of a companion animal, veterinarians and mental health practitioners often find themselves consoling pet owners both prior to and in the aftermath of pet euthanasia. Yet how does euthanasia influence this bereavement process? To explore this we examined, using a survey, the correlations between pet euthanasia, Complicated Grief (CG), and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) amongst a diverse range of pet owners from the state of Hawaii. Participants (n = 236) completed a 37-item questionnaire, the Inventory of Complicated Grief Revised Short Form (ICG-R-SF), and the PTSD Checklist (PCL). Of the participants, 3.4% and 4.7% met the criteria for CG and PTSD, respectively. This paper explores and subdivides respondents into those who attended their companion animal’s euthanasia and those who did not. Our results indicate that physically attending a companion animal’s euthanasia is not correlated with CG or PTSD. As the experience of pet loss itself may be more indicative of psychological distress than whether or not the owner was present at the moment of euthanasia, veterinary staff need not dissuade pet owners from sharing their pet’s final moments.

Publication Title Anthrozoös
Volume 32
Issue 5
Pages 701-713
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
DOI 10.1080/08927936.2019.1645515
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Tags
  1. Euthanasia
  2. Grief
  3. Human-animal interactions
  4. Pet bereavement
  5. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder