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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5823
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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A month ago, I lost my precious 6-year-old dachshund to a

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A month ago, I lost my precious 6-year-old dachshund to a back injury. The trama and loss were heart breaking. Now, my 14-year-old dachshund is showing signs of dementia and my anxiety level is extremely high. I know in my head that this dog will die, too, but how do I cope with the anxiety between now and then? I'm not sleeping much because of the anxiety and because the dog is disoriented and I'm afraid he will get hurt in all his nightly roamings. This doesn't help me be patient with my husband and middle school students at school.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

I am sorry to hear about your dogs. Losing a pet is like losing a family member. It can be very hard to deal with such a loss. And when a pet is sick, it can be hard to know how to help them.

From what you said, I suspect that you are still mourning over the loss of your first dog. Oftentimes, people do not realize that losing a pet can cause mourning just like when you lose someone in your family. With such losses, people go through the stages of grief. Sometimes you can resolve the grief after a period of time, and sometimes you can get stuck in a stage of grief. With your dog becoming ill so soon after the death of your first dog, it may be that you did not have a chance to complete your grief process and now are anxious as a result.

The anxiety is most likely because your grief is still fresh in your mind. No one wants to experience grief but having both a death and an illness come so close together makes the pain and loss double and does not allow you time to heal. The fear of experiencing the grief so soon can make you feel anxious, on edge and irritable.

First, do not hold your feelings in. Talk to supportive friends, family or other people in your life. No feeling is off limits and the more you express how you feel, the faster you will recover.

If you cannot find anyone to talk with, try asking your vet for a referral to a pet loss grief counselor or for a support group. As people begin to understand the pain of losing a pet, more and more counselors and groups are available.

Talk about your dog and express the pain of helping and caring for your ill pet. Make an album of pictures, share times you enjoyed with them, write out or share funny stories of things they did, whatever you can think of that tells the story of what you shared with them. It helps to remember good times, even if your pet is still here with you.

Remember, you gave your first dog and are still giving your current dog much love, care and a safe and happy home. Many dogs do not have such a loving place to live their lives. Your pets were and are happy and well cared for. You did the best for them and still care very much.

If there is anyone who can help you care for your sick pet, ask for their help. Even if it's just a night or two, the extra rest and down time can help you get a better handle on your feelings.

Here are some books that may help you. One is called The Loss of a Pet by Wallace Sife. Another is Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss: Personal and Professional Insights on the Animal Lover's Unique Grieving Process by Sid Korpi.

I hope this has helped you,

TherapistMarryAnn and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you so much for your careing and thoughtful answer. I think you have some good insight here and I will defintely take to heart many of your thoughts and suggestions. Thank you for taking the time to care about me (someone you don't personally know) and my dear pets! Susan

You are very welcome! I am so glad I could help you. I have a lot of experience in losing pets and caring for sick ones, so I understand your pain. You will get through this and you will have some beautiful memories of your pets to make you smile again.