Grieving a Pet - How to Deal With Loss

Grieving a Pet - How to Deal With Loss

Author WDF Staff


Dogs have taken a much significant role in our lives in the past 100 years. They are not just a tool we use for herding, guarding, or hunting - dogs are a part of our family. They are our best friends. It doesn’t matter if it is a pureblooded breed or a mixed breed, the love and support they provide us with are the same. Dealing with the loss of our four-legged best friend can be too much for some of us, and their departure can leave a profound feeling of emptiness and loss.

Dealing with grief

People that haven’t had a dog can’t understand the feeling of grief dogs can leave behind them. Sometimes, it can be pretty hard to express our emotions if we don’t have anyone to talk to and, most importantly, someone who understands.

Talking to people that can’t understand the significance of the loss of a pet can be damaging. Having a supportive family member or friend can mean the world to the person grieving a pet. Keep in mind that people who didn’t have such a close relationship with their dog can’t understand its importance. They are not mean or cold; they simply don’t understand.

Support groups for grieving a pet

In a time of great sorrow and sadness, the best thing we could get is a compassionate person. Even if they don’t understand how hurtful losing a pet is, a compassionate person can listen to you and help you deal with your sadness. Unfortunately, some of us are not lucky enough to have that type of person in our lives, making this process even harder.

Good places to start looking for support for grieving a pet are support and online groups. There is also the option of private therapy and hotlines that can connect you with someone going through a similar process. There is something very comforting about knowing other people are going through the same process of grieving a pet. You will get a sense of acceptance, and you’ll know there is nothing wrong with you because you feel this way.

There is no reason you should grieve alone!

Honor your pet

Seeking support while grieving a pet is a great place to start your healing process. Some therapists and psychiatrists say that honoring your pet can be a significant step in that process. You will never forget your pet, and having a project can help you honor your pet’s life and create memories that will last even long after they are gone. Here are some creative ideas to help you start;


Afton Strate, a licensed family therapist, gave some ideas to his patients grieving a pet. His suggestions are aimed at creating a legacy for their deceased pets. Some of the ideas he suggested are;

  • Starting a scrapbook with your favorite dog photos.
  • Naming a star in honor of your pet.
  • Planting a tree or flowers in your pet’s favorite spot.
  • Make your pet’s portrait.
  • Start a shadow box with your pet’s items (collars, blanket, toys, etc.)

Memorial service

Having a memorial service for your pet is an excellent way of allowing you and your family to say goodbye to your beloved pet. They played a massive role in your life, and it is expected that their death left a considerable toll. You can bury your pet’s remains or scatter their ashes in a place that holds a special place in your heart.

Take photos of your dog

Having great memories with your dog captured by a skillful photographer can be priceless. If you know your dog’s life is nearing its end, hiring a professional photographer might be a good idea. Some owners said having photos of their dog helped them in their grieving process.

New traditions

A great way to honor your pet’s life is to start new traditions on days you find significant. You can volunteer in a dog shelter on your pet’s birthday. Some owners said that helping others at the time they were grieving a pet helped them feel better. Take at least one day each year when you will allow yourself to become vulnerable and remember all the good times you shared with your pet.

Grieving a pet in multiple pet household

Other dogs can grieve after other pets. Dogs will demonstrate their grieving in a different way you would, but they will grieve a pet that was their companion as well. The key thing to know is - you can help your dog grieve, and the dog can help you. You still have the love and support of your dog, and if you find new activities you can do together, you will both go through the grieving process easier.

Make sure you give your dog plenty of attention and love. Keep them as busy as they can be. Dogs will grieve differently than we do, and you can notice your dog becoming lethargic or even experience a loss of appetite. They can even stand close to the crate or bed of the deceased pet. Try thinking of new things you can do with your dog. Even basic clicker training can be helpful.

World Dog Finder team

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