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Pet owners' expectations for pet end-of-life support and after-death body care: exploration and practical applications

By K. A. Cooney, L. R. Kogan, S. L. Brooks, C. A. Ellis

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Category Journal Articles
Abstract

Pet owners caring for a pet during the end of its life are faced with aftercare choices and decisions. This study, through the use of an online anonymous survey, explored the perceptions and expectations of United States (US) pet owners regarding end-of-life issues, with a focus on after-death body care. Participants living in the US who were the current owners of at least one cat or dog, had a regular veterinarian, and had made end-of-life decisions for at least one pet were recruited for the study. Survey respondents included 2043 dog and/or cat owners (41.4% male, 57.9% female) of which 68% had made cremation decisions and 32% had made burial decisions for at least one pet in the past. The majority of these owners indicated they preferred to work with a specific crematory (43%) or cemetery (70%) and over 95% of these owners reported feeling it important to work with their preferred after-death body care service. In terms of guidance, most owners indicated they rely on their veterinary team to help them with end-of-life decisions and orchestrating arrangements on their behalf with tertiary pet aftercare services/companies. Participants indicated being more likely to use veterinary staff for pet death and dying as well as after-death body care and memorialization than any other source. When asked about these after-death body care conversations, 73% indicated they need 20 minutes or less. Participants expressed significant concern over several aspects of after-death body care (e.g., body mislabeling, type of container used for short term and long-term storage). Results of this study create the foundation for practical, ethical after-death body care recommendations to help guide veterinary teams acting on their clients’ behalf.

Date 2021
Publication Title Topics in Companion Animal Medicine
Volume 43
ISBN/ISSN 1938-9736
Publisher Elsevier
DOI 10.1016/j.tcam.2020.100503
URL https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S193897362030101X
Language English
Additional Language English
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Tags
  1. Grief
  2. open access
  3. Pet loss
  4. Pets and companion animals
Badges
  1. open access