Your dog is more than your best friend; he’s a member of your family.
Unfortunately, dogs don’t live forever — though we wish they could.
Losing a pet can be devastating. Even if he lived a long, healthy life and you were prepared, battling the grief of your dog’s death can feel like a struggle that’s nearly impossible to overcome. It’s important to mourn your dog’s death and heal in the process.
Follow these tips to make this difficult time a little easier for the entire family.
Making plans for your pet
It may be a hard decision to make in the midst of your sadness, but you should always be prepared for what to do with your dog’s remains. If you leave your dog at the veterinarian’s office, they may charge a fee. One way to honor your pet is by having them undergo aquacremation, which is an environmentally friendly water-based alternative to a more traditional flame-based cremation.
Many families prefer to bury their pets at their house if they have a yard because it’s a good way to organize a pet’s burial and remember them forever. Pet-loss.net suggests checking with your city’s regulations to make sure you can legally bury your pet on your land.
Pet cemeteries or pet urns are other ways to mourn your dog’s death while honoring your pet and remember them when they pass.
Finding comfort and peace
Everyone grieves in different ways. Unfortunately, some people might not understand what you are feeling for your dog.
Don’t let people tell you “it’s just a dog” or try to discourage you from taking time to mourn your dog’s death. Allow yourself to cope in your own way, and don’t try to ignore your feelings. Don’t feel silly or overdramatic for crying and grieving; it’s completely normal to feel an extreme loss.
A pet can be a huge part of your life, and most people feel an emptiness when their pet passes away.
Coping with the loss of a pet takes time — don’t rush your feelings or try to subdue them. According to a study conducted by the University of Hawaii’s animal science department, 30 percent of pet owners who lost an animal felt grief for at least six months. Talk to others who have lost pets or join a message board or support group. Creating a legacy and performing rituals can be healing, so try setting up a memorial or writing a poem. Create a photo album and share good memories of your dog.
Talking to your children
Often, the loss of a pet can be the first encounter your children have with death. It’s important to talk with them and encourage them to share their feelings and grieve in their own way. Don’t try to hide the truth from your children by telling them the dog ran away. Be honest and comforting.
The Humane Society suggests sharing your own grief with your children, so they know it’s OK to be sad. Help your children heal by encouraging them to share memories, write in a journal about your dog or draw pictures. Be patient and help children grieve in their own way and in their own time. Having a funeral or ceremony for your dog can also help everybody deal with the loss. Have your children make a gift for your pet, or let them pick out a flower arrangement to bring to the ceremony.
Taking care of other pets
If you have surviving pets, they may show signs of grief as well. They will feel your sadness and notice the loss of their friend. You may not feel like playing with your pets or giving them much attention when you are missing your lost dog, but your other pets will need lots of extra love to comfort them in this time of change. In return, the love of your other pets can help you greatly in your recovery.
Take time to mourn your dog’s death
If you don’t have any other pets, don’t feel pressured to rush into getting a new dog. It won’t be fair to you or your new pup. Take the time you need to mourn your dog’s death and wait until you and your family are ready to accept a new furry friend into your home. A new dog cannot replace your old dog but will bring you new memories and joy.
Time to say goodbye? Use our when to put your dog down checklist