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Dealing with the Death of a Loved Pet

The death of a loved pet is like losing a child, sibling, or loved one. It can be devasting! When we get a pet dog or cat, we know that our pet most likely will not live as long as we will, and at some point, we will have to deal with the loss.

At the time our loved pet arrives, we are only thinking about how cute they are, how much fun it is to play with them, and how we are going to get the animal trained to not pee in the house – not the death of a loved pet!

Dealing with the Death of a Loved Pet

As time goes on, we take our dogs on trips, to the beach to play fetch, and we grow to love them.

As the years go past, we get older and so does the pet we have grown to love.

It might happen suddenly, through some illness or injury, or it might be gradual, through the process of aging.

But the odds are pretty likely that a loving pet owner will have to deal with the loss of their best friend and loyal and devoted companion.

The Pain that Comes with the Death of a Loved Pet

Why does losing a pet hurt so badly?

We have this idea in society that animals are not our equals, and when we lose one it shouldn’t be that big of a deal, that a pet’s loss is an accepted fact of having one.

But we do grieve over the loss.

We think about the times we spent with the pet that gave us so much unconditional love.

It is okay to grieve that loss. Yes, people who don’t understand the bond a pet owner can have might scoff or roll their eyes at our grief.

So find someone who will be there for you. Find a close friend, a loved one, a family member, or someone you know who has also gone through the loss of a cherished pet.

Sometimes it can be good to be alone to deal with the loss as well, crying in the shower or just taking a day off of work to look at treasured pictures.

But try not to dwell on the loss.

When spending time with friends or family, discuss other matters, and remember that it will get better.

Depression and Sorrow

It is natural to feel depressed during times of grief.

Much has been written over the years on depression, its causes, and how to deal with it.

It is okay to feel depressed over the death of a loved pet.

But know that as time goes on, the depression will go away, and so will the sorrow.

Just like the loss of love in any relationship, time does heal.

Be conscious of the depression.

It can prevent us from going to work, and spending time with people, and in many people, depression is as debilitating as any other illness.

Depression can cause loss of appetite or interfere with work. If we feel that we can’t get away from the sorrow or deal with the loss, we should talk to someone.

If need be, see a therapist or counselor that is sympathetic to the loss of a pet.

Find a support group. But, try not to be alone for too long.

Loneliness is depression’s partner in crime, and it will only feed into your sorrow.


Do we blame ourselves in some way?

Was the gate left open and the dog ran away? Did we not recognize that illness sooner?

Guilt will eat away at us if we let it. The past is past, and life can’t be redone.

Don’t blame yourself for the loss, and don’t blame others.

Nothing can be done about it now, so we have to accept it.

It is possible that what happened might have been preventable, or maybe nothing could have been done.

Guilt can make us better people, but it has to be accepted, acknowledged, and let go of.

There can also be guilt weeks after a pet’s death when we realize we aren’t as sorrowful over the loss as we used to be.

This is normal as it is our ability to move on after the death of a loved one that makes us human.

Just because the sorrow has decreased doesn’t mean the memories will go away as well, or our love for our family friend.


Regret can also eat away at our emotions.

We might think about how we always wanted to take our dog on “that hike” that we never got around to.

Or a video of how the dog always rolled around to scratch his or her back.

We can regret that time we left the cat at home for a couple of days by itself.

Or we can regret not spending more time with our animals.

Instead of regret, know that feeling so sad at the loss of the animal means we did spend time with it.

We might have taken the dog on another hike that was just as fun or to the beach all those times.

Remember the times when the cat curled up on our laps when we were feeling sad about something?

Don’t think about the times not spent with our pets, think about the times we did spend with them.

In The End

An unfortunate fact of life is every living thing must die at some point.

If we feel grief at the loss of a pet, accept it as a real emotion and do what needs to be done.

If we need to yell, cry, break things, or just be alone then do whatever needs to be done.

Reach out to friends or find a sympathetic therapist.

Accept that the sorrow of the loss of a pet is real and justifiable and don’t let anyone tell you any different.

It will get better over time and eventually we will be able to look at those old pictures without getting tears in our eyes or that lump in our stomachs.

Also, don’t run out and get a new pet right away.

It takes time to grieve the death of a loved pet, and trying to replace the lost pet with another right away won’t make us feel better.

Take some time before making the decision to get a new pet.

Missy Cee

Thursday 17th of August 2023

My 17-year-old cat had to be PTS last week and it has been brutal. Not only is there the loss, there is the wondering if she was undertreated, and guilt because I was ill for a few years and was unable to physically get her to the vet or pay for it. She had low-grade kidney disease but no specific treatment was recommended. She had a problem with her mouth that quickly got worse but the vet wouldn't give anesthesia for an exam nor surgery. She went blind quickly. After she was PTS, the vet said that the blindness was from hypertension, but he never gave her anything for it nor did I ever see him take her blood pressure. Her last days were horrible. I have another cat but hesitate to go to a vet again.


Thursday 17th of August 2023

I am so sorry for your loss Missy! I understand losing our best friends all too well and 17 years is a long time. There is also the doubts and questions that hit us after they pass as in did we do enough. However, I choose to believe they knew we loved them. They could feel our love in their daily care and would not wish for you to hold it against yourself. I know nothing I can say will take the pain away. I just hope it gets easier.

Michael Coovert

Sunday 19th of April 2020

This is the hardest thing I have ever done. I don’t have children. But I had two canine companions who were with me for 16 and 17 years respectively and I lost both of them in a relatively short period of time a couple of years ago. My heart was so broken I couldn’t even think about opening my heart to another dog. Last November I finally felt healed enough and was able to bring home a new puppy.

How to Know When Euthanizing a Pet is Best - Miss Molly Says

Monday 27th of January 2020

[…] tell us if we are only prolonging the suffering for our own desire to not deal with the loss of the beloved pet. They can also give us a good idea of how much longer the animal has so that we can enjoy the last […]

Shannon Holmes

Sunday 19th of January 2020

I lost my Durn and it was hard on me. Thanks for sharing this with us.


Monday 9th of December 2019

Thanks for sharing the helpful tips for the loss of a cherished pet.

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