People should get compassionate leave from work when their pets die, according to Dogs Trust Ireland.
A survey carried out by the animal welfare charity has found that more than half of dog owners felt the grief they experienced after losing a dog was similar or worse to the loss of a family member.
Some 38% said they were surprised by how deeply they were affected and nearly 60% said it toom a year or more to come to terms with it.
Meanwhile, the survey also found that 72% have more pictures of their dog than their partner or family on their phone.
Dogs Trust is today launching its #NotJustADog campaign to “highlight the devastating effect a dog’s death can have” on their owners.
As part of the campaign, the charity is asking employers to offer compassionate leave to employees when their pets pass away.
Psychologist Dr Sabina Brennan said: “When a dog passes on, no matter how prepared we are for it, how old the dog is or how long or how short a time they spent with you, the loss can be overwhelming.”
“I think the most important aspect of coping with the loss is to allow yourself to grieve and accepting that what you’re feeling is normal,” she said.
“Surround yourself with people who understand and if you’re struggling, please seek professional advice.”
The survey also found that 66% of dog lovers worry about their dog’s passing and Dog’s Trust is urging people to visit its website for advice on how to prepare and how to talk to your children about it.
“Many people spend more time with their dogs than anyone else in their life and have a unique bond with them,” said Dogs Trust Ireland Executive Director Becky Bristow.
“As a dog welfare charity, we understand the impact the loss of a dog can have, so we offer our employees a day’s paid leave in the event of the death of their dog, and we would love to see other employers offer the same.”
To help spread their message and show that it’s ‘not just a dog’, Dogs Trust is asking people to share a photo of their dog using the hashtag #NotJustADog on social media.