Pet Loss & Grief

Here are 10 things you should never say to anyone whose dog just died, regardless of the dog’s age or cause of death. Even if you mean well in your heart, any of these 10 things should never be said to any person who’s recently lost their dog.

We love our pets. They are our family and our best friends. We know, sadly, that their lifespans are all too short! You may be wondering if there are other options besides burial and cremation. Aquamation is a dignified, earth-friendly alternative to cremation.

Dogs, just like people, mourn the loss of their canine companions. In some ways, their grief is similar to humans'. Fortunately, there are several ways to help a grieving dog. Some of these tips can help grieving owners, too.

Losing a dog leads to a mix of emotions that may be difficult to comprehend at times. Understanding the stages of grief when losing a dog may help the grieving dog owner better understand what is happening to them.

Owners of an aging dog—perhaps one affected by terminal cancer—may wonder what to expect and what common signs indicate that a dog is dying. Recognizing these signs is helpful so that dog owners can be prepared for euthanasia or hospice care with the support of a veterinarian.

Anticipatory grief is the fear of losing a dog. It is often felt when a dog is diagnosed with a terminal condition such as cancer or with aging, geriatric dogs. Preliminarily mourning doesn't have to be a negative experience, it can be turned into a proactive experience.

Saying goodbye to a pet is part of loving them. The grief is real, but as with any loss, the right song can play a role in getting through it. Here are some songs to help.

You've just found out that your co-worker's pet has died and you want to offer them support. You know how painful pet loss can be. Here are some tips on how to help them cope with the death of their beloved companion and process the grief.

The death of a pet can be truly devastating, and while it's important to show someone who is grieving that you care, it can be hard to know what to say. Here are some simple messages you can use in a card, a text message, or on the phone to console your friend after the death of their beloved pet.

These sympathy gifts for someone whose cat or dog has just passed away can bring hope and comfort to a friend or loved one coping with pet loss.

The death of a dog is a painful experience, regardless of your prior experience with grief. Whilst some people believe it's not OK to feel grief, this articles discusses why it's perfectly acceptable.

A guide to help people whose pets are nearing the end of their lives to help them decide when to let them go.

When our pet dies, we can be overtaken by a deep sorrow that hits us harder than we expected. We might feel guilty or embarrassed for crying buckets of tears over Fido's death when we couldn't muster up a sniffle at Aunt Peggy's funeral. To heal our pain, we need to take deliberate steps to honor our animal friend.

I have read countless articles in the last year about people's pets dying. It is something all pet lovers have to experience and is always a sad time. This article and the poems relate to how I cope.

Some don't understand the intense heartache and sorrow many pet owners feel when they lose a beloved pet, but the heartbreak is real. Find ways to deal with the grief of losing a pet.

The death of a pet can be heartbreaking. But does that mean you should get a new pet right away? Find out if you are ready to adopt a pet after a beloved furry friend has passed away.

Children can be deeply affected by the death of a pet. Here are some tips on how to help them cope when an animal friend passes away.

Do dogs, cats, horses, hamsters, and other pets go to heaven? This Christian perspective examines the question and looks at the beliefs of both famous theologians and pastors, and what the Bible has to say on the subject. Pets and heaven is a controversial subject in Christendom.

These are examples of pet loss sympathy messages that you can use to write in a card for someone you know whose pet has died. Personalize these by adding specific details about the pet.

It is always heart-breaking when it comes time to putting your dog to sleep, whether due to an accident or just old age. Saying goodbye to a friend is one of the hardest things to go through.

Our pets are always dear to our hearts and are considered to be like our children. When one passes over the Rainbow Bridge, we need closure. This article outlines the best way to celebrate your pet's life with a Wiccan ritual.

If your beloved pet has passed away at home, or if you've put him to sleep at the veterinarian's office but can't face the idea of leaving the body behind, you're going to need to bury him yourself. As a child, I'd buried hamsters and gerbils, but...

We know how much pets mean to most people. People love their pets and consider them members of their family. Caregivers often celebrate their pets' birthdays, confide in their animals and carry pictures of them in their wallets. So when a beloved pet dies, it's not unusual to feel overwhelmed by the intensity of your sorrow.

Animals provide companionship, acceptance, emotional support, and unconditional love. If you understand and accept this bond between humans and animals, you've already taken the first step toward coping with pet loss: knowing that it is okay to grieve when your pet dies.

Finding ways to cope with your loss can bring you closer to the day when memories bring smiles instead of tears.

Honor your pets memory by creating a memorial fundraiser. myHumane

Tips for seniors grieving the death of a pet

As we age, we experience an increasing number of major life changes, including the loss of beloved friends, family members, and pets. The death of a pet can hit retired seniors even harder than younger adults who may be able to draw on the comfort of a close family, or distract themselves with the routine of work. If you’re an older adult living alone, your pet was probably your sole companion, and taking care of the animal provided you with a sense of purpose and self-worth.

Stay connected with friends. Pets, dogs especially, can help seniors meet new people or regularly connect with friends and neighbors while out on a walk or in the dog park. Having lost your pet, it’s important that you don’t now spend day after day alone. Try to spend time with at least one person every day. Regular face-to-face contact can help you ward off depression and stay positive. Call up an old friend or neighbor for a lunch date or join a club.

Boost your vitality with exercise. Pets help many older adults stay active and playful, which can boost your immune system and increase your energy. It’s important to keep up your activity levels after the loss of your pet. Check with your doctor before starting an exercise program and then find an activity that you enjoy. Exercising in a group—by playing a sport such as tennis or golf, or taking an exercise or swimming class—can also help you connect with others.

Try to find new meaning and joy in life. Caring for a pet previously occupied your time and boosted your morale and optimism. Try to fill that time by volunteering, picking up a long-neglected hobby, taking a class, helping friends, rescue groups, or homeless shelters care for their animals, or even by getting another pet when the time feels right.

Do Pets Grieve and How?


September 10, 2020 – We all can relate to and understand the extreme sense of loss and grief when we, our friends and family members lose a beloved companion animal. Less understood is whether or not our pets grieve after a similar loss. But many people who own multiple pets report changes in the behavior of remaining animals following the loss of a companion animal in the home.

In a recent Morris Animal Foundation-funded study , Australian and New Zealand researchers surveyed 279 owners, investigating changes in behavior in dogs and cats that had recently lost a companion animal in their household. The survey helped document owner-perceived behavioral changes in 414 surviving pets, split evenly between cats and dogs. Behavior categories include changes in affection, feeding, sleeping, vocalization, elimination, aggression, and territoriality.

While many of the reported changes in behaviors were similar between dogs and cats, there were some key differences. For example, cats were more likely to increase vocalizations than dogs and dogs were more likely to change their eating patterns following the death of a pet in the home.

The team’s findings include:

Increases in affection were by far the most reported observation by owners, with 74% of dogs and 78% cats in the survey displaying more affectionate behaviors with their owners. These behaviors included a need to be closer to, or demanding more affection from, their owners. But for a few pets, just the opposite happened. About 10% of dogs and 15% of cats sought less attention from their owners.

While some dogs and cats reduced their consumption of food after the death of a companion animals, dogs were more likely than cats to increase consumption of food. Interestingly, dogs that lost another companion dog were more likely to slow down the speed at which they ate food, not necessarily the amount eaten, than dogs that lost a cat companion.

More dogs than cats experienced changes in sleep patterns. Surveyed owners reported about 42% of dogs experienced changes in sleep behavior, with 81% of those sleeping more.


Cats seemed to be more prone to changing how they vocalized, both in frequency and volume, than dogs after the death of a companion animal. Vocalization patterns usually returned to normal in about two months or less for most cats.


Most cats and dogs in the survey did not show any changes in the location of elimination or toileting, suggesting this may not be a key behavior change following a loss of a household companion animal.

Few pets in the survey exhibited increased aggression following a loss of a companion animals. The ones that did were more often cats showing increased aggression toward other animals within the house. Studies show that aggressive behavior is one of the most obvious signs of stress in cats. These findings leave the door open to debate if increased aggression is a hierarchical or territorial behavior, and if cats are just setting up new boundaries in the household.


Sixty percent of dogs and 63% of cats displayed a change in territorial behavior, of which 50% of these dogs and 56% of these cats sought out the deceased pet’s favorite hangouts. This behavior usually resolved itself in about two months or less.

Reactions to Deceased Body

Many owners believe seeing the deceased body will help their surviving pets understand that a loss has occurred. Owners surveyed reported 58% of dogs and 42% of cats viewed the deceased body of their companion animal. No distinct behavioral differences were noted by owners between the animals that saw the deceased body and those that did not. However, many of the animals that saw the deceased body of their companion were prone to sniff and investigate.

Behavior and Grief

The researchers note the behavioral changes observed in this study parallel similar behaviors observed in separation anxiety. The behavior changes tended to resolve at different times, with changes in affection subsiding between two to six months following the death of a household pet, for both dogs and cats and most other behaviors gradually stopping within two months of the loss.

The team hopes these findings open the door to more discussions on how animals cope following the loss of a household companion animal and maybe signs to watch for and discuss with your veterinarian. It is important to note that many of the grief behaviors described in the study, including changes in sleeping, food consumption, vocalizations, also can be associated with health issues.

Morris Animal Foundation has funded more than 50 behavior studies over the years, from our first studies on behavior changes due to aging to our two most recent proposal calls for horse and cat behavior studies in relation to the health and welfare of these species. As animals can’t directly talk to us, owners need to watch for both subtle and extreme behavior changes in their pets after the loss of a household companion. Understanding what is expected behavior can help ease both owners and surviving pets through the grief process.

Watch the video: Sadhguru How to deal with grief and loss of a loved one (July 2021).