The researchers confirmed what we knew so far -grief from the loss of a pet is comparable to the loss of a loved one, and sometimes it can be more traumatic. Scientists believe that our attitude towards the loss of pets has changed over the last century. Today, pets are increasingly considered full-fledged family members. However, the loss of a beloved animal friend is complicated by the relative novelty of the experience, which is often the first human encounter with death, and also because most people choose euthanasia.
How has our attitude to pets changed?
Researchers believe that with petswe share one of the closest relationships - we see them every day, they depend on us, we adapt our life to their needs. Today, pets become family members because they actively shape our lives. According to Popular Science, many people who have pets wake up at certain times because it is necessary to walk with the dog. People and animals get up together, eat, spend time in the bathroom and so on - so animals become part of the rituals that make up the family. Partly for this reason and depending on the relationship, losing a pet can be more traumatic than the grief we experience after the death of family members and friends.
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According to a 2015 study,published in the journal Science, we form attachment to animals in the same way as attachment to people. During the study, dog owners looked into their eyes, as a result of which both the person and the dog increased oxytocin levels. Oxytocin, sometimes called the hormone of love, regulates social interactions. The amount of oxytocin increases when people look into each other's eyes and when parents look at their newborn babies.
According to a psychologist from the University of MichiganThomas Wrobel, the death of a pet is often the first encounter of a person with the loss of a close relationship. Human death is relatively “accepted” by us, since there is a whole industry of burial and cremation and it is not necessary to deal with a dead body. In contrast to the loss of a pet. For this reason, researchers advise you to think about whether you intend to euthanize the animal and when. Often, euthanasia is medically necessary. In such cases, this is the best thing that can be done for a dying animal. However, such a decision may be accompanied by feelings of guilt. The results of a study on the relationship between symptoms of grief and affection for pets were published in 2005 in the journal Journal of death and Dying.
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Researchers and veterinarians reportthat the possibility of euthanasia at home, as well as a hospice for pets, can facilitate death for family members. Euthanasia at home helps to eliminate the negative experience of realizing that you are bringing an animal to die in a place that most likely causes it stress.