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The staff at the Angel Refuge Pet Cemetery & Crematory Inc. are pleased to provide you with an online newsletter. This fact-filled newsletter is updated on a regular basis.

Included in the newsletter are articles pertaining to memorial and burial services, end-of-life care, grief counseling and more.

Current Newsletter Topics

10 Common Questions Asked after the Loss of a Pet

The loss of a cherished animal companion can cause extreme sadness, intense guilt and a whirlwind of other emotions. Often, you will seek answers to questions that may not be black and white. Below, you will find some of the most common questions pet owners ask of themselves while grieving the death of a pet.



1. When is the right time to euthanize a pet?

Your veterinarian will make a recommendation based on your pet's physical condition and long-term outlook. You, however, have the unique insight into your pet's daily quality of life. By evaluating your pet's health honestly, you will be able to work with your veterinarian to come to the most humane decision for your individual pet. The decision to euthanize will never be easy, but is often the final act of love you can provide a pet who is suffering.


2. Should I stay with my pet during euthanasia?

This is a completely personal decision that you will need to make. Many pet owners want to be there for their pets and witness it so they can see it happened peacefully and without pain. This can be traumatic, but not witnessing the death may make it harder to accept that the pet is really gone. Also, you want to gauge your own emotional strength- if you have an uncontrolled outpouring of emotions before your pet passes, it may be upsetting for him or her to witness. Euthanasia can sometimes be performed at home. Discuss your options with your veterinarian beforehand.


3. I've heard of the stages of grief, but what are they?

The grieving process is often illustrated by five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Typically, you will move through them progressively, but everyone grieves in different ways. You'll know you're beginning to heal when you're thinking more rationally and more often of the good times you shared with your pet rather than of the "what-ifs" and the guilt.


4. How can I cope with my feelings?

Having someone to share your feelings with will help you not have to keep them locked up inside. Don't deny how you feel or simply put on a brave face. You must acknowledge your feelings to work through them. Some of your thoughts may be misguided and as time passes you will be able to realize this. Do whatever works best for you as a means of emotional expression – go somewhere secluded and scream, cry, talk, write, paint, create a memorial, or find a new activity to fill the time you previously would've spent with your pet.


5. Should I just get over it?

It is common to hear the phrase "it was just a pet" when others find your emotions to be too extreme or too long-lasting. These people aren't aware that the death of a pet creates the same emotional response as the loss of a human friend or family member. Grieving is natural and thousands of pet owners can attest to that.


6. Who can I talk to?

Share your feelings with family or friends who have pets. Reminisce about your pet. Or, speak with your veterinarian or local humane association to identify pet loss counselors or support groups. Hospitals and churches also often have resources for grief support.


7. Should I do burial, cremation, or disposal?

This is another decision which should be based on your personal wishes. It can be easiest to have a clinic dispose of your pet's remains (often for a fee), but many prefer something more formal. Based on your living situation, a burial at home may be a good choice. However, both burial and cremation depend on your personal or religious values, finances and future plans. Your veterinarian or an online search will provide options available in your area.


8. What should I tell my children?

Be honest with your children and provide as much information as they seek in a way that matches their age and maturity level. Saying their pet was "put to sleep" is not advised, as they may begin to fear bedtime. Allow your children to grieve in their own ways and be open about your own emotions around them rather than teaching them to keep it all inside.


9. Will my other pets get depressed?

Your other pets may notice a change in the household. Based on their relationship, some may search for their companion, eat less and seem to be grieving. Giving your surviving pets extra love and attention during this time will be beneficial not only to them, but to you as well.


10. Should I get a new pet right away?

Generally, it is best to allow yourself time to work through your grief and loss before introducing a new pet into your home and life. A new pet is a unique individual, not a replacement. Try to avoid getting one that looks the same or naming it the same as your deceased pet, and don't expect it to behave exactly the same either. Getting a new pet too soon may lead to resentment or feelings of disloyalty because you still want your old pet back.

Burial Options for Your Beloved Pet

How you wish to handle your pet's remains after death is a personal choice dependent on many factors. Although cremation has become a popular option, other pet parents still prefer burial – either at home or in a nearby pet cemetery. Burial provides the bereaved with a sacred spot where they can go to visit with their deceased companion. It also allows the owner to feel that his or her pet is still present, still at home and not soon to be forgotten.

A burial site can be adorned with flowers, a personalized headstone or grave marker, or even a statue. Many pet parents will plant a flower or tree atop their pet's grave, or bury their pet beneath an existing and protective tree or shrub.

The Options

Home Burial

Home burial is not always an option. For pet owners who rent, move frequently, or live in an urban area, it may not make sense or it may be forbidden or illegal. Many cities prohibit home burials because of the potential hazard it may cause to public health.

If you do opt for home burial, ensure that your grave site is in an area that won’t be disturbed, is at least three feet deep, and that your pet's body is wrapped in or placed in something which is biodegradable.



Pet Cemetery Burial

Some pet owners prefer the formality of a cemetery burial – with or without an accompanying service. Others simply do not have the space of their own to bury a pet at home. Having your pet's remains buried in a pet cemetery comes with the assurance that the grave site will always be cared for and will never be disturbed. This can be reassuring for older pet parents or those who may move in the future and not be able to relocate their pet's remains.

Burial in a cemetery comes with many options for headstones and other decorative add-ons for your pet's grave or casket. Additionally, many companies exist that can pick up your pet's remains and help make arrangements for a complete funeral and memorial service if that is what you desire. Most states have several pet cemeteries. To locate the one nearest you, consult with your veterinarian or visit the International Association Of Pet Cemeteries & Crematories or the Pet Loss Professionals Alliance websites.

Financing Your Pet's Health Care

Health care costs are rising rapidly - not just for you, but also for your pet. Veterinary medical costs are on the rise and many treatment options once available only for humans can now be used on pets. This is great news for the health of your pet, but it may not be so great for your wallet. Specialized treatments, emergency surgeries and consultations with specialists are expensive and working large veterinary bills into an already tight budget can be difficult for many pet owners. However, there are many options for pet owners looking to budget for the care of their faithful companion.

When it comes to tackling a large veterinary bill, health care credit cards are an easy option for pet owners. CareCredit, the Wells Fargo and Citibank all offer credit cards that can be used to pay for your pet's health care. CareCredit was the first company to offer financing exclusively for veterinary care. CareCredit works just like a regular credit card, except that it can be used for veterinary medical care, as well as for human medical costs such vision care or dentistry. More than 100,000 veterinarians in the country accept CareCredit and CareCredit's website features a searchable list of veterinarians who take payment through CareCredit.




To use CareCredit, apply online at www.carecredit.com. Once you're approved, make an appointment for your pet with your veterinarian. When it's time to pay the bill, you can set up a CareCredit payment plan with your veterinarian. Payment plans can last anywhere from three to 18 months, with no interest; for higher treatment fees, 24 to 60 month payment plans can be set up with a fixed 11.9 percent interest rate. The average credit limit is $4,000.

Chase also offers a specialized credit card for health care costs. The ChaseHealthAdvance allows pet owners to set up no-interest payment plans spread out from three to 24 months. Longer financing periods (for 24 to 48 months) are available with an interest rate ranging from 0 to 11.99 percent. The credit limit for ChaseHealthAdvance ranges from $5,000 to $20,000.

Wells Fargo and Citibank also offer credit card financing options for veterinary care. The Wells Fargo Health Advantage Card and the Citi Health Card work much like CareCredit and can be used for both veterinary and human medical procedures.

The Citi Health Card offers three different payment plans: zero interest for three to 18 months; a budgeted 48-month plan at 12.96 percent interest and a regular credit plan at 21.98 variable interest. Wells Fargo offers similar payment plans that can be customized by your veterinarian.

Not all veterinarians accept health care credit cards. Before applying for a card, ask your veterinarian which payment plans he or she uses. It is also a good idea to find out if veterinary emergency clinics in your area accept health care credit cards, as well. Adding another credit card to a growing stack of bills is a difficult choice, but far less difficult than choosing to forego an important procedure for your pet because of high costs.

Crematory Options for Your Cherished Companion

How you wish to handle your pet's remains after death is a personal choice dependent on many factors. While some pet parents still prefer burial, cremation has become the most popular option. This may be because more people are renting or living in urban areas where home burial is often prohibited. Some believe that a body is merely a receptacle for a spirit and that more attention should be placed on honoring the memory of a pet than on its remains.

Whatever your beliefs may be, cremation offers the bereaved the option of having a pet's remains returned. They can be kept in a keepsake urn or spread somewhere sentimental. Some veterinarians perform crematory services or there are many crematories who cater just to pets. Since it has become so popular, there are several affordable options.



Private & Viewing

A private cremation ensures that your pet will be cremated alone and that the ashes you receive will be solely his or hers. Viewing cremations are sometimes possible, where you and your family can witness the process from a separate viewing room. This often provides the bereaved with the reassurance they their pet's remains were treated properly and with respect.

Semi-Private

In a semi-private cremation, several deceased pets are placed in the same chamber and divided by a partition. While the majority of the ashes you receive back should be those of your pet, some co-mingling of ashes does occur. Be sure to clarify which option you desire (and are paying for) as semi-private is sometimes labeled as private.

Communal

If having your pet's ashes returned to you is not something you desire, a communal cremation may be the best option. It results in the co-mingling of several deceased pets' ashes who are cremated together without any partitions separating the bodies.

Helping Pets in Grief

Although it isn’t known for sure if pets grieve the loss of an animal or human companion in the same way humans do, many do express their awareness that something has changed. Depending on how long your pets spent together and what their relationship was like, a death can create a significant void within the home that your surviving cat or dog may notice.

Symptoms of Grief

The ASPCA studied pet behavior after the loss of a pet companion during the nineties and found that 66 percent of dogs exhibited four or more behavioral changes. Some of these changes included:

• Loss of appetite
• More needy for attention
• More or less vocal than normal
• Restless during sleep
• Searching for deceased pet
• Wandering aimlessly



Allowing Your Pet to Say Goodbye

Many pet owners will attest to the searching behavior their surviving pets seem to exhibit after the death of a companion. When a friend suddenly leaves the house and doesn't return, he or she may anxiously wait for their return or search the house and yard hoping to find them. It has been suggested that allowing your pet to see the deceased pet's body can help him or her understand what has happened.

During this visit, your pet may: sniff, paw at, or try to "bury" the body; lay beside it; howl or whimper; invite play by bringing over a toy; or do nothing at all.

If letting your pet say goodbye in this way is not possible, consider clipping a lock of your deceased pet's hair for your surviving pet to smell. If your pet is showing any signs of grief, provide plenty of extra love and attention.

Obesity in Dogs

Americans and their dogs appear to have one thing in common: they are both overweight. The problem is that they eat too much and too often. Along with excessive eating, the amount of exercise needed to burn up the calories is not sufficient. Also, the foods we feed to our pets (as well as what we eat ourselves) are very high in calories.

There are several reasons why your dog may be overweight. The most common causes include over-eating, diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism, Cushing's disease (hyperadrenocorticism) and obsessive-compulsive eating disorder. Obesity is more commonly due to over-eating than disease.

Obese animals tend to live a shorter life than animals that are trim. Fat dogs have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, liver disease, diabetes, orthopedic problems and even neurological problems. Dogs that are overweight often experience difficulty breathing and become less able to tolerate heat. They may also experience difficulty walking or be unable to tolerate regular exercise due to muscle weakness. As responsible pet owners, we need to make sure that our pets are eating properly and not excessively overweight.

Obese animals tend to have shorter lifespans

A Proper Diet Is Key To Your Dog's Overall Health

Recent studies have shown that 53 percent of American dogs are overweight and about 58 percent of cats are overweight as well.

Planning a Diet

If your pet is overweight, work with your veterinarian to decide on and stick to a proper weight-reduction plan. Your veterinarian can help assess your pet's obesity and weight reduction plan and determine whether there are any complicating disease concerns. In some cases, a prescription type of diet may be recommended.

Weight should be lost gradually. Starvation or crash diets are inhumane and rarely work. Most dogs require 10 to 12 months on a weight loss plan before results are achieved. Dogs should eat twice a day and be fed reasonable amounts of high fiber low-fat dog food. Also, treats should be small and strictly rationed.

Help your obese animal by following a proper weight loss diet.

A Proper Diet Is Key To Your Dog's Overall Health


General Weight Loss Instructions

Weight loss should be a family effort. All members of the family must admit the animal is overweight and commit to a weight loss program.

  • One person should take charge of feeding the dog.
  • If the dog is extremely overweight, the diet must be changed to a therapeutic veterinary diet specifically designed for weight loss. Simply feeding less of your dog's regular food is rarely, if ever, successful.
  • Owners must be willing to measure exactly the amount of food offered. Minimize treats. If treats are necessary, offer low calorie snacks such as air popped popcorn or a piece of vegetable (such as carrots or green beans).
  • Most dogs do achieve ideal or near ideal body weight when the owner and family members are committed to improving the pet's health.
  • In order to maintain the ideal weight, it is often necessary to continue feeding the weight loss die. The amount of food however, is generally increased.

Food Recommendations for Feeding Overweight Dogs

Lower your pet's daily caloric intake by 50 percent of that required at their ideal body weight.

Change the pet food product to one designed for weight loss and containing:

  • less than 340 kcal per 100 g of food on a dry matter basis.
  • between 5-10 percent fat.
  • between 10-30 percent crude fiber.
  • greater than 25 percent crude protein.

Feed your pet twice a day.

Feed the prescribed measured amount of food.

Give treats only as directed. Use specifically designed low calorie treats or give cooked or raw vegetables.

Exercise your dog regularly to help maintain a healthy weight.

Exercise Your Dog Regularly To Help Maintain A Healthy Weight


Exercise is an important factor in weight loss. As with humans, exercise provides an outlet for pent-up energy. Another benefit from exercise is that it leads to the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain. Serotonin has two effects that might be relevant: first, it helps to prevent depression and has anti-obsessive properties. Second, it reduces appetite. Both are desirable for weight loss.

Recently, a new medication has been introduced for weight loss in dogs. This prescription medication is available only through your veterinarian.

Your dog's weight contributes significantly to his or her well-being. A fat dog is generally lethargic and does not live life to the fullest. A trim healthy dog is much more active and truly makes a more enjoyable companion.

If your dog is overweight, a visit to your veterinarian is the best first step.

Tick Prevention

Tick, Tick, Tick: For Tick-Borne Infections and Unprotected Pets, it's Only a Matter of Time

Last week, while lavishing my dog with some behind-the-ear scratches after a walk together in the woods, I found a tick on her leg. This was alarming for a couple of reasons. Not much larger than a freckle, the critter nearly escaped my notice. Even when I did see it, I almost dismissed it as a speck of dirt or a bit of lint—after all, it had been six months since I had needed to be vigilant. Then I remembered: It's spring, the weather is getting warmer, and here come the ticks—especially the tiny, easily-overlooked deer ticks that carry Lyme disease.

And there are even more reasons to be concerned. According to an article in Veterinary Practice News, tick populations are increasing and are poised to reach unprecedented levels in 2013, due to a number of factors including warmer winters, decreased insecticide usage, and the white-tailed deer population, which has swelled as a result of successful conservation efforts. White-tailed deer are ticks' primary mode of travel and the main reason they are so widespread, although other migratory animals such as birds and coyotes transport ticks as well.

Aside from Lyme disease, ticks can carry almost a dozen human and animal diseases, including Rocky Mountain spotted fever, anaplasmosis, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, and Cytauxzoon felis, a deadly organism that afflicts domestic cats.


Treatment a necessity, not an option

When it comes to illnesses, prevention is generally the least costly and least stressful option, and tick-borne infections are no exception.  Given the emerging statistics about tick population growth and disease, prevention protocols should be considered a standard, not optional, part of pet care—as important as semi-annual wellness exams, vaccinations, and even fresh water and food.

Talk to your veterinarian about tick-borne diseases that are specific to your area and about implementing an effective protection plan. Options include:

  • Lyme disease vaccine
  • Veterinarian-recommended tick and flea preventive products
  • A long-lasting insecticide yard spray that will kill both tick eggs and larvae

Regardless of the method, or combination of methods, you choose, it is a good idea to always thoroughly check your dog after being outside, especially in woodsy, grassy, or brushy areas. If a tick is attached to your dog's skin, remove it carefully with tweezers, and wash the affected bite area and your hands with soap and water afterward.

Renting With Pets
Is he allowed in your new apartment?

Is the rental market improving or getting worse for tenants with pets? Some say better, others disagree and scream worse...unfair!

According to a study released in 1999 by the National Council on Pet Population, moving was identified as the major reason for giving up a pet dog and the third most common reason for giving up a pet cat. Moving in itself was not the reason for giving up the pet; it was the landlord's refusal to accept pets in the new apartment or house.

Certain regions of the country are more difficult for renters who have pets. According to a study, renting with pets is most difficult in the Northeast and in California. The area of the country where it is easiest to rent with pets appears to be in the Southeast. The situation in Atlanta is a prime example of why it is so difficult for some pet owners. With only 2500 apartment complexes in the metropolitan area, only about 10 percent take dogs weighing more than 35 pounds. In the metropolitan New York area (including Long Island and New Jersey), it is very difficult for a new renter to find lodging where pets are allowed.

As frustrating as it appears, there are methods to sway owners with firm "no pets" policies.

  • Make sure your pet is well behaved. Toilet training is a must and personality problems, such as separation anxiety, must be addressed.
  • Adoption of a pet-friendly contract with set rules:
  • Spay or neuter requirements
  • Obligatory License
  • Current with vaccinations
  • Leash policy
  • Designated toilet area
  • Scoop-up regulations
  • Supplemental pet security deposit
  • Pet committee to oversee the program

The Humane Society of the United States' website offers a "Renting with Pets" section.

In the San Francisco area, pet owners can purchase a revolutionary new insurance policy. This policy protects landlords against pet-related damages. www.LeasesWithPets.com sell policies for about $200/year that cover up to $5000 worth of damage.

If you already own a pet and your landlord is trying to evict you, consult an attorney that has some knowledge in landlord-tenant law as well as in animal law. Many cities and towns have laws that prohibit eviction of a tenant who owns a pet.

For more information about renting with pets, the following websites are worth visiting:

www.hsus.org - Humane Society of the US
www.mspca.org
www.sfspca.org
www.apartments.com - Includes pets as a search criteria

Most of the information for this article comes from the ASPCA. You can visit their website at www.aspca.org.

Your Pet's Allergies

The skin is the largest organ of the body. It's major function is to protect the rest of the body from the external environment. With it's sweat glands and rich blood supply, it is also responsible for regulating the body's temperature.

The exterior portion of the skin is called keratin. In animals, this protective waterproof layer is thickest on the paw pads. Under the keratin layer are the epidermal cells. These cells are constantly dividing, as new cells are replacing damaged older cells. The keratin layer and the epithelial cells are the body's first line of defense against invading microorganisms and hazardous environmental substances. These layers are also responsible for keeping moisture inside the body, preventing the body from dehydrating.

Like humans, animals have allergies. Some allergies are seasonal while others occur year round. In the northern parts of the U.S., flea allergies are commonly seen in the summer and fall. In the southern states, flea allergies often occur throughout the year. Food allergies are not seasonal. They can occur anytime during the year. The most common types of allergies in pets (particularly dogs) include: contact allergies, flea allergies, atopy and food allergies.



Asthma and hay fever are common symptoms of allergies in humans. Animals rarely develop these symptoms. Scratching is the most common symptom of allergies in pets. Some animals scratch so much that they mutilate themselves. It is not unusual to see an allergic dog with large skin wounds and areas devoid of fur (often called "hot spots"). Once the skin is injured, the animal is susceptible to a serious bacterial infection.

There are many ways to treat allergies in pets. Food allergies can be treated with hypoallergenic diets. Certain animals respond favorably to desensitization. Unfortunately, in most cases, allergies are extremely difficult to treat and require medication. This medication should only be dispensed by a veterinarian.