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Matthew Sisk: Pets mourn loss of their animal companions, too
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About two months ago, Lemmy’s family suffered the loss of their home to a fire. No one was injured, and Lemmy has remained in good health.

That is important, as inhalation of toxic gases or even just super-heated air can wreak havoc on the lungs. Immediate damage can occur, but delayed issues may arise in the days to weeks following the insult. Luckily for Lemmy, no such problems have become obvious.

But via a phone call from Lemmy’s owners, it appears another issue is present. In the fire, Lemmy’s feline housemate went missing. No remains were found in the house to suggest the cat was killed in the fire, but the mystery remains unsolved.

This is, of course, a blow to the family. They lost their home and a beloved pet. But the lack of feline companionship is apparently a bigger deal for Lemmy.

Since the fire, Lemmy has shown an increasing tendency to show anxiety. True, he went through the fire, literally, experiencing what can traumatize anyone, regardless of species. He lost his home and his best non-human friend. And he’s older, so the loss may affect him more, as older animals tend to be more routine-oriented. “Set in his ways” is a common refrain for older pets.

Dogs are pack animals, and the loss of a pack member is distressing. It is understandable that Lemmy is showing signs of loss. If he were human, we’d use words such as “mourning” to describe his predicament. He’s eating less, interacting less and seems unhappy in general. These are the hallmarks of a lessened quality of life. And I want Lemmy’s quality of life high.

The family is moving into a new home soon, and Lemmy will hopefully have more stability. I recommend keeping him active,and offering him novel stimuli so his mind can grapple with something other than loss.

If the problem persists, we may try medication. In some cases, it is necessary. Trying to get over depression when a chemical imbalance is present is close to impossible.

Two months after the concerned phone call, I receive an ecstatic one.

Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at mattsisk2003@yahoo.com.

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