How to Cope with the Death of a Pet
Prints in the Sand - Paw and Hand
Ways to Remember when a Beloved Pet Dies
For many people experiencing the death of a pet is more than just having an animal die, it is like losing a cherished member of the family.
On this page I've pulled together many resources for those trying to cope with the death of a pet, resources for adults, resources for children and resources to help keep the memory of those beloved pets alive.
You will find video clips with advice, books, links to articles and a variety of commemorative and remembrance items to hopefully make dealing with the death of a pet a bit easier.
This page started out as part of a (webpage) lens written for the Squidoo website on "Remembering a Pet Who has Died," as a personal account of "The Boys," the four family dogs that we had when I was growing up.
I felt that the topic deserved to be it's own unique article, so this page is ultimately an expansion of that lens, coping with the loss of a beloved pet.
Image of Prints by miguelima.
When a beloved pet dies,
You lose a piece of your heart.— Kirsti A. Dyer
Coping with the death of a pet - Video
Good Morning America resident veterinarian, Dr. Marty Becker, talks about ways to cope with the death of a pet.
Coping with a Pet Video
Coping With the Death of Your Pet
The Humane Society of the United States offers the following advice from "Coping With the Death of Your Pet,"
There are many forms of support are available, including pet bereavement counseling services, pet-loss support hotlines scattered throughout the country, local or online Internet bereavement groups, books, videos, and magazine articles now available to help those coping with the death of a pet.
Some basic suggestions to help in coping with a pet death:
- Acknowledge your grief and give yourself permission to express it.
- Don't hesitate to reach out to others who can lend a sympathetic ear.
- Check for pet loss hot-lines (on the UC Davis Pet Loss Page) for those grieving over the death of a pet.
- Write about your feelings, either in a journal or a poem.
- Call your local humane society to see whether it offers a pet loss support group or can refer you to one.
- Prepare a memorial for your pet.
Source: Humane Society. Coping With the Death of Your Pet
A Journal to Help Cope with a Pet's Death
Paw Prints in the Stars was created by author Warren Hanson to help one deal with the loss of a beloved pet. The journal contains a place for treasured photos and journal pages for favorite memories
Information on Pet Loss from Veterinarians
- What To Do When Your Pet Has Died at Home | ASPCA
It is normal to feel sad over the death of a pet. This brochure suggests some ways to cope during this difficult time.
- Pet Loss
PET LOSS - websites, resources & bibliographies from UC Davis Center for Companion Animal Health, School of Veterinary Medicine, UC Davis
- CVMA It's About Pets - Pet Loss
The relationship we share with our pets may end for a variety of reasons. Whether our special animal friend dies, is stolen, lost, or given to a new home, we are faced with a sense of loss. Adults and children often need support to help them with the
Pet Loss - Options for Grieving Pet Owners
The end of our pets' lives can be a traumatic event for many people. The bond that we share with our pets means we aren't just losing an animal; we are losing a family member. Pet burials, memorials services and even complete funerals are becoming commonplace across the nation. There are even many pet loss support lines. Many pet owners are now finding that these "after-life" options help them to gain closure produced by the Veterinary News Network.
Tip: Hold a Pet Memoral Service
Planning and holding a memorial or funeral can be a beneficial way to help in coping with the death of a beloved pet.
Kirsti A. Dyer
Ways to Remember a Beloved Pet
According to the AVMA's (American Veterinary Medical Association) Pet Loss Brochure:
- For some people, a memorial service or ritual (such as releasing balloons or spreading cremated remains) can be therapeutic. You may choose to keep and display reminders of your beloved animal, such as photos or mementos or anything that helps you recall and treasure the good times you spent with your beloved animal.
Some suggestions for coping with the death of a pet include:
- Have a Memorial, Funeral or Celebration for the pet.
- If not a service, find some way to remember the pet, perhaps by planting a plant or releasing balloons.
- Read books or find Internet articles on coping with the death of a pet.
- Work on a journal about the pet.
- Create a scrapbook about the pet.
- Wear a special necklace in memory of the pet.
- Have a special urn or plaque for the pet.
- Make a Memorial stepping stone.
- Celebrate National Pet Memorial Day.
- Contribute to a charity in honor of the pet.
As planning and having a memorial or funeral for a family member helps in realizing and coping with the death of a person, similar rituals can also be used to help in coping with the death of a beloved pet.
Resources for Coping with a Pet Loss
Books and articles with more information on dealing with the death of a pet.
Coping with the Loss of a Pet
One of the classics on coping with the loss of a pet from Moira Anderson Allen.
When a Pet Dies
Get help from Mr. Fred Rogers when a child's pet dies.
Articles on Ways to Cope with Pet Loss
- Ten Tips on Coping with Pet Loss
Coping with grief on the death of a pet; tips on pet loss bereavement
- Coping With the Death of Your Pet : The Humane Society of the United States
When a person you love dies, it's natural to feel sorrow, express grief, and expect friends and family to provide understanding and comfort. Unfortunately, the same doesn't always hold true if the one who died was your companion animal.
- Grief-stricken? How to deal with pet death - TODAY Pets & Animals
For many people, a pet is just like a member of the family. So when it comes time to grieve the loss of a furry friend, the experience can be overwhelming. TODAY contributor Jill Rappaport shares her personal story, and the ASPCA offers tips on how t
- Grieving the Loss of a Pet
Provides guidance on how to grieve the loss of a pet.
- Pet Loss | ASPCA
Sadly, everyone who cares for a pet will one day face the illness, old age or passing of their beloved animal friend. It is as natural and necessary to grieve for the loss of a pet as it is for any loved one who dies. And it is important to have comp
- Helping Your Child When the Family Pet Dies | ASPCA
Information and resources on how to help your child with his or her grief over pet-loss.
- Helping Children Deal with the Loss of a Pet
Dealing with the loss of a pet is never easy. When children are involved, special considerations must be made to help them understand what is going on and how to deal with pet loss and grief. This article will address planning for euthanasia, how to
A Guide to Mourning When Your Pet Dies
From one of the grief experts Dr. Alan Wolfelt a guide to coping when a pet dies.
Tip: Display or Carry Mementos to Ease the Loss
You may choose to keep and display reminders of your beloved animal, such as photos or mementos or anything that helps you recall and treasure the good times you spent with your beloved animal.
AVMA's (American Veterinary Medical Association) Pet Loss Brochure
Carry or Wear Pet Mementos
Keep the memory of your pet with you always by wearing a memorial necklace or carrying a memorial keychain.
These Necklaces allow you to carry a lock of fur or some of their ashes with you at all times as a way to remember.
Pet Memorial Keychain
Carry a memorial keychain as a way to remember a beloved pet.
This one features a paw print with an angel wing.
With Me Always Ash Holder Necklace
Use this Ash Holder Necklace as a tangible way to remember a beloved pet with the reminder words, "With Me Always."
Fill with a fur tuft, cremated remains or any other small reminder of your beloved pet.
Tip: Help Children Cope with Pet Loss
For many children, the death of a treasured pet is often their first major experience with death.
Understandably, children may need extra care after the death of a pet as they make their way through the grieving process.
CVMA (California Veterinary Medical Association)
Helping Kids Cope with Pet Loss - Video
A pet's death can be extremely hard on kids. Get tips for describing the euthanization process to kids in this free video clip about coping with pet loss for children from Expertvillage.
A Boy and His Dog
Saying Goodbye to Your Pet
A helpful book for children using art therapy to cope with a pet loss.
Helping a Child Cope with the Death of a Pet
The California Veterinary Medical Association offers these tips on helping children work through the loss of a pet:
- Give the child permission to experience the grief.
- Tell their teacher about the pet's death.
- Encourage the child to talk freely about the pet.
- Give the child hugs and reassurance.
- Discuss death, dying and grief honestly.
- Include the child in everything that is going on.
- Explain the permanency of death.
It is important for parents to realize that for many children, the death of a treasured pet is often their first major experience with death.
Understandably, children may need extra care after the death of a pet as they make their way through the grieving process. Following some of the suggestions for adult on "Ways to Cope with the Death of a Pet," presented earlier, may also be helpful for children.
Source: CVMA. We Love Our Pets and Grieve When They Die: California Veterinary Medical Association Offers Grief Guidance to Help Owners Cope. Press Release. 2007.
Image: Boy and his Dog by btwist.
I"ll Always Love You (Pet Version)
A classic for helping a child cope with the death of a beloved companion dog.
Kate, the Ghost Dog
Highly recommended this book for ages 8 and up is helpful for children coping with the death of a pet.
Stuffed toys can help children and adults cope with the death of a pet by giving the grieving person something to cuddle, hold and talk to when they are missing their beloved pet.— Kirsti A. Dyer
Labrador Puppy Puppet
Stuffed Toys Can Comfort and Soothe
Stuffed toys can help children and adults cope with the death of a pet.
While a stuffed toy cannot take the place of the real pet, it can give the grieving person something to cuddle, hold and talk to when they are missing being able to cuddle and hold their beloved pet.
Scented, microwavable stuffed toys can also soothe through scent and through warmth. Microwavable stuffed toys can be warmed and provide heat when held. The scented toys (often lavender) helps ease emotional distress.
Stuffed Labrador Toys
We had a variety of Labrador mixes growing up, so getting a stuffed Labrador toy might have helped.
A plush stuffed toy could have been something to cuddle when I was missing any of our dogs.
Even better for cuddling and smelling at the same time, look for a lavender scented stuffed toy like Lucky below.
Get the soothing smell of lavender while cuddling.
Black Labrador Puppy Puppet
Lucky the Lavender Scented Dog
Cuddle and smell the soothing scent of lavender at the same time.
Scented Stuffed Toys Soothe and Comfort Children
- Scented Stuffed Toys Soothe and Comfort Children
Cozy Plush Microwavable Toys or Aromatherapy Plush Toys are a 2-for-one gift that not only gives a toy, but it also is a warm anytime hug. These scented plush toys make ideal gifts for children and adults, anyone who needs comfort.
Saying Goodbye - Loss of a pet - Video
A beautiful, healing tribute from tla0866 who reminds us that "Saying goodbye is the hardest thing to do." Have some tissues near by just in case.
Loss of a Pet - Video
Capture a Memory in Stone
Capture the Memory of a Special Friend
Kids Garden Handprint Kit
Make a Paw or Hand Print
Make your own custom tribute in stone for your favorite pet using one of these handy kits.
You can capture the memories of both children and pets as they grow up together with stepping stones.
Creating the stones while the pet is still alive gives you a memento to cherish once they have passed on.
Make a stepping stone using the kit to the right or the one below.
Make a Paw Print
Create a paw print while the dog (or cat) is still alive so you will always have one.
Celebrate National Pet Memorial Day
A beautiful tribute from timberpuppy to remember pets who have died, including those who have died in service.
This celebration was in September 2010.
National Pet Memorial Day - Video
Sympathy letter from the Vet
Send a Sympathy Note when a Pet Dies
Sending a sympathy note or card for the death of a pet is a supportive gesture to help a friend dealing coping with a pet loss.
Frequently pet owners grieving the loss of a beloved pet are afraid to show their feelings when mourning the death of an animal.
Sending a Card helps to acknowledge the death and also the loss that the pet owner is experiencing.
Those who have lost pets know the healing benefits of receiving sympathy cards.
Image of a Sympathy letter from the veterinarian by Liz Henry.
All Dogs Go to Heaven
Inside reads "But when they go, they leave such a big hole in our hearts."
Pet Sympathy Cards
Sympathy card that reads "In loving memory" on the outside.
Inside reads "Sending you caring thoughts during this difficult time."
Share Your Thoughts on Coping with the Loss of a Pet
Share any ways that you have found helpful in coping with the death of a beloved pet in the comment section below.
© 2010 Kirsti A. Dyer