SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— Coping with the loss of a pet is certainly a tough thing to endure, let alone talk about, but Dr. Jennifer Scarlett from the San Francisco SPCA addresses the issue in this week’s Animal Update.

In a survey of how Americans felt about how their pets fit into their lives, the majority said that pets are part of the family. That alone would be an enormous loss, but aside from that many pet guardians have had to make the end of life decisions, which also adds to that sense of grief and guilt.

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As far as coping and grieving goes, Dr. Scarlett said make sure you acknowledge the loss and let yourself go ahead and grieve.

“So many times I’ve had volunteers, friends or clients, start their grief with, ‘I know it was just my cat Cricket…’ or ‘I know Buddy was just a dog…’ but allow yourself to feel that grief and don’t demean it by attaching it to a cat or a dog,” she said.

Scarlett also recommends you reach out to people who understand more; people who have pets. There are also support groups at the SF SPCA that meets on a monthly basis where you can connect with others who are going through the same thing.

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If you’re not comfortable talking to others, even keeping a journal is a good way to grieve. A lot of people wonder if getting a pet soon after losing one is a good thing to do. Scarlett said everybody copes with the loss of a pet in their own individual way.

“It personally took me seven years between my first and second dog and one year in between my second and third dog,” she said.

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The bottom line is, we’re all individuals and we have to make our choices based on what feels right for us.