Complicated grief and posttraumatic stress disorder in humans’ response to the death of pets/animals

Julie A. Luiz Adrian, DVM
Aimee N. Deliramich, MA
B. Christopher Frueh, PhD
The present exploratory project represents a cross-sectional study
designed to determine the percentage of people reporting significant
symptoms of complicated grief (CG) and/or posttraumatic stress
disorder (PTSD) in response to the death of companion pets/animals.
Human participants (N = 106) were sampled from a veterinary clinic.
Fifty-two percent of participants had lost one to three pets from
natural causes, 60% had never lost a pet to euthanasia, and 37% had
lost one to three pets to euthanasia. The study suggests that many
people experience significant attachment to their pets/animals and
experience significant features of grief reactions (about 20%) after
the death of a pet/animal. However, the percentage of people experiencing
major pathological disruption is relatively low (<5%-12%). Thus, subclinical levels of grief and sadness are relatively common human responses to the death of companion pets/animals and last 6 months or more for about 30% of those sampled. Severe pathological reactions do occur but are quite rare among human survivors. Implications for mental health clinicians working with affected populations are discussed. (Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, 73[3], 176-187) see here for more 49074510.