How to Deal With the Grief of Losing a Pet You Love

Losing a dog is the most heart-breaking experience a pet owner can ever experience. It’s never easy to let your doggo cross the rainbow bridge, especially if you’ve been together for many years. In fact, experts found out that losing a pet is almost as painful as losing a loved one for some. And according to a University of Pennsylvania research, putting a dog to sleep causes the most grief. In this process, we aim to help you with how to deal with the grief of losing a pet.

In this post, we will give you some advice so you can find solace as your beloved pet goes to dog heaven.

We don’t just a lose a dog; we lose a friend

Photo Credits – Gifts For Dog Lovers

Some people tend to dismiss pet owners as whiny and sulky in the aftermath of losing a pet. While other people don’t understand the feeling, they should know that it’s a serious matter. Many pet owners even experience depression and anxiety when they lose their dog. And if it’s a service or emotional support dog, the pain is much worse.

Also, euthanizing a dog is the most difficult. Unlike natural causes, euthanasia has a sense of guilt and fleeting grief. The pet owner is the one to decide to end their pet’s life, thus the increased emotional burden.

The worst part is that comments like “it’s just a pet, get over it” add up to the distress of the pet owner.

Take note that getting another dog right away isn’t always the right move. Some pet owners feel that they are replacing their beloved pooch, which makes feel even worse about the loss of their pet.

Also, each pet owner has a varying process of accepting the death of their Fido. There’s no specific timeline on which you can say that you’ve moved on from your loss. About 50% of the people who lost a pet will take up to 19 months to grief. Meanwhile, 25% will take only 3 to 12 months and the other 25% would take as much as 6 years to recover. Yours could be different too.

The length of grief varies depending on some factors. It includes, but not limited to, the length of having the dog, the level of attachment to the dog, and the sentimental value attached to the dog.

Is it my fault that my dog died?

If you’ve been nothing but a caring and adoring pet owner, it’s never your fault that your dog died. Some dogs are born with predispositions to various diseases. As much as you can take care of them, their bodies may not be as strong as it should be.

Also, putting your dog to sleep is for the better. Veterinarians advise euthanasia if it’s the best solution for your dog’s condition. Instead of letting the doggo suffer from an illness or old age, many pet owners opt for euthanasia. And just like any natural causes, it’s never your fault.

Still, it’s important to recognize that many dog owners experience a feeling of guilt after their pet passed away. This is normal as pet owners try to find answers and justification to the death of their pooch. Although not healthy, they vent the anger on their selves.

How to deal with the grief of losing a pet

We know that it’s easier said than done, but dealing with the grief has a workaround. Dogs see us through our toughest times. And now that they are no longer around, we have to find ways to rise from our grief. As a fellow dog parent who has lost an amazing pup, here’s how to deal with the grief of losing a pet:

Talk it out

Hiding your anger and grief will not do any good. Letting it brew inside will just cause a bigger emotional turmoil later on. It’s best to talk about it with your nearest and dearest friends.

Find someone who will listen to you and not mock your grieving process. We always find solace with other dog parents who have experienced losing a furry baby before.

If you can’t find anybody to talk to, you can call various vet school pet loss hotlines. The Chicago Veterinary Medical Association has a Pet Loss Hotline at (630) 325-1600. If you’re in Texas, you can call the SPCA branch at 214-461-5131- for phone counseling. Moreover, if you’re living somewhere in Utah, Utah State University also has a Pet Loss Hotline at 435-757-4540.

For other pet loss hotlines that cover your area, you can check this list HERE.

Know why you’re feeling guilty

Remember this: it’s not your fault. Dogs only live within a small portion of our lives. When they die, it’s never our fault as long as you’ve been a responsible pawrent.

Instead of avoiding your feelings of guilt, face it and address the issue. Your grief will not pass quietly if you let it linger. Instead of seeing euthanasia as an end to your dog’s life, it’s best to look at it as a favor that you can do for your dog. Instead of letting them suffer, you can spare them from the pain. That’s the best thing you can ever give your pet if vet care is no longer feasible.

Sure, it’s painful and sad, but it’s a process that you have to do for your pet. Just be there for them when that time comes.

After saying goodbye to your dog, you must recognize that it’s normal to be sad. Your dog is now in a better place, far from the suffering of old age or an incurable health condition.

Give your doggo a goodbye ceremony

Rituals and ceremonies can help in your healing. After your dog passed away, you can hold a simple memorial service for your dog. You can also invite some of your friends who own dogs. This way, you can share the memories of your dog and celebrate the pooch’ well-lived life.

This can be a very sad and moment, but it’s also cathartic in its own sense. Some of us just need a formal ceremony to let go of our departed doggos.

Help your kids go through it as well

Take note that your kids will also be affected by the death of your dog. Kids usually see pets as a part of the family and they spend a great deal of time playing and bonding with them. And when the doggo passes away, kids will also deal with grief.

Encourage your kids to talk about their feelings. Reassure them that your dog is now in a good place. Children often process grief with physical remembrances. You can ask them to write a message for your dog and release it on a balloon.

Before your dog’s funeral, you can secure a paw print so your kids will have a remembrance of their beloved pet. You can also process the grief with your kids so they’ll have emotional support.

Don’t rush it

Grief is a process that takes months or even years to get over with. This is normal so don’t let anyone tell you how to feel or to stop sulking over the death of your pet. Take as much time as you need. If you’re not ready to give up your dog’s things, you don’t have to give it away. You can keep it for as long as you want until you can wholeheartedly let it go.

However, if the grief is already affecting your chores and day-to-day activities, you should never shy away from help. You can contact a therapist to help you process your emotions. Don’t let the stigma stop you from seeking help. It’s way easier to accept your loss if someone else is willing to listen and advise you.

Depression can set it, especially if you have been attached to the dog. There’s a cure for it and professionals can help you regain your enthusiasm in life back.

Create a memorial for your doggo

One thing that we’ve tried personally is creating a memorial for our pets. A simple way of honoring them is by growing any beautiful plant in your deceased dog’s water bowl with its collar around it. We recommend succulents as it tends to last long.

We saw this idea online and it’s actually a great way to commemorate your pet while serving as their remembrance on your home. The growing plant symbolizes the undying love that dogs give us while they are living.

how to deal with the grief of losing a pet
Photo Credits – Pinterest

You can also create a small shrine in your yard where you can light candles and put flowers whenever you miss your dog. These traces of your dog’s memory will help in your process of grief.

Don’t let yourself wondering

Another reason why pet owners can’t move on from grief is that they don’t know how their dog died. If you have questions about how your pet passed away, you should consult the veterinarian. Don’t let your questions be unanswered. If you do so, it will just keep nagging on your mind and prevent you from processing your feelings.

After your dog’s death, you must know every detail so you won’t be left wondering for years. This way, you can also move on from the guilt right away. Tying these loose ends will help you let go of your dog.

Vent your energy on something productive

Some pet owners tend to wallow in grief. As much as you should face your emotions, you should also channel a larger portion of your energy into something more productive. Go for morning runs, develop a new hobby, or volunteer on a local shelter during your rest days.

Doing something good for other dogs actually help a lot of pet owners who have lost their own dogs. You can also set up a small organization or page that helps other pawrents who have lost their pet. You can even name the group after your late dog!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How long do dogs grieve the death of another dog?

A: If you have a multi-canine household, expect that the other pooches will also be affected by the death of one of their buddies. The dogs will be sad and may refrain from their usual activities. This behavior will normalize after six months. Just note that dogs grieve differently than humans.

Q: Is it illegal to bury my dog in my yard?

A: Usually, dead pets are buried on dedicated pet cemeteries. But if you want to bury your dog in your yard, it’s worth consulting a lawyer who deals with property laws. Some states prohibit the pet burial on properties under certain conditions. Also, it’s not proper to bury a dog in your property if the land doesn’t belong to you.

Q: What are the common causes of death among dogs?

A: For younger canines, the common causes of death are congenital defects, trauma, and infections. Meanwhile, senior canines often cross the rainbow bridge due to a form of cancer.

Q: Should I get another dog after losing one?

A: If you’re going to use the dog as an escape for your grief, it may not be advisable to get a new pet right away. It’s best to process your emotions first so you’ll know if you’re ready to be a pet parent again.

Q: Can I cremate my dog?

A: Yes, you can find local pet crematories. Your dog’s vet may also recommend a crematory. The vet’s office may also process the cremation so you wouldn’t have to deal with the additional burden.

Final words

Knowing how to deal with the grief of losing a pet is a long process. Every pet owner has his or her own way of coping with the loss. What’s important is that you face your feelings and address your guilt. It’s gut-wrenching, but letting go of your departed furry baby is also therapeutic.