How To Deal With The Death Of Your Dog

To sustain this free service, we receive affiliate commissions via some of our links. This doesn’t affect rankings. Our review process.

Dog graveLosing a beloved pet can be emotionally devastating. Your pet is a part of your family and it’s never easy saying goodbye that last time. If you are someone who has recently lost a canine companion, the editors and staff here at offer you our most sincere condolences. We understand the pain you are feeling right now and know that this is not easy to handle. We also feel that sometimes it’s best for people to discuss their pet after losing them as a way to begin to recover. We welcome you to leave memories of your dog in our dedicated Pet Loss Support community topic.

In this article, we will offer some strategies and insights to help you work through the mourning process.

The Grief Process

Everyone deals with grief in different ways. Denial, anger, and guilt are all strong initial reactions that preclude the inevitable sadness that comes when the shock is gone. These reactions are often taken out on those closest to the one experiencing the loss, and act almost as a means of protection for that person until they are able to face the truth. The process, as a whole, may look like the following:

  1. Denial and/or anger
  2. Guilt
  3. Sadness and/or grief
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

Dealing With your Grief

While grief is a very individual and personal thing, there comes a time for us all when it’s best to stop feeling the loss and to actively choose to move past it. The right time for you, will not necessarily be the same as someone else; depending on how long it takes you to move through denial and get to acceptance, it could take weeks or it could take years for you to become ready to deal with your grief. When you are ready, however, you don’t have to face it alone.

Facing Death Together

Aside from willing family and/or friends, there are entire communities of people who feel just like you and want to connect. Types of support include:

  • Pet-bereavement counseling
  • Pet-loss support hotlines
  • Online and/or local pet-loss support groups and forums

If sitting down for a one-on-one with an actual counselor, or even getting up the nerve to attend a local support group proves too much at this point in your process, Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary medicine offers a toll-free, Pet Loss Support Hotline for grieving parties. We have also recently set up a Pet Loss Support in our community that may prove helpful.

Personally Facing death

While outside support is an important tool for coping with your grief, there are some things that a support group can’t do for you… you have to do them for yourself. A few things that you can do on your own to help move past your grief include:

  • Acknowledge your sadness, embrace it, and give yourself permission to feel and express this pain! It’s a vital part of the healing process.
  • Write out your feelings. Whether it’s in a personal journal or an essay on Fido that you submit for publication, writing is extremely cathartic.
  • Volunteer with a local animal shelter. While this may be best left for the later stages of grief, just like helping other people helps you forget your own problems, helping other animals will help you move past your loss.
  • Prepare a memorial for your pet. The act of having a service, saying a few words, and laying your pup to rest will definitely help give you the closure you need.

Dealing with Reality

Beyond your grief lies reality: Whether you’re having to make the tough decision to euthanize your sick or aging pet, or if your pet is already gone and you’re having to deal with the memorial, and burial or cremation arrangements, the reality of these situations can come crashing down on you like a ton of bricks. This can leave you feeling overwhelmed and unsure of where to turn. We’ll walk you through these separate scenarios so you can confidently cope with whatever comes your way throughout the process.

Dog Euthanasia

As your pet ages, or in the event that your otherwise healthy pup should become unexplainably ill or injured beyond recovery, it may be necessary to become emotionally prepared to euthanize your pet. From knowing when it’s time, how to say goodbye and what to expect next, our article on Dog Euthanasia will walk you through this difficult process so you don’t have to do it alone.

Dog Cremation

Whether your dog’s death was of natural causes, or you were forced to make that tough decision yourself to end his or her pain and suffering, once your dog has passed comes the matter of cremation or burial. Our article on dog cremation and burial offers information on the process of dealing with the remains, and options for memorializing your pet after death.

Remembering your Pet

Don’t forget: The best way to honor your pet, your four-legged family member, is to remember the good times you had together and to be grateful that you were given the valuable time you had. Gratefulness goes a long way in the healing process, and helps us remember that, despite the heartache when our sweet ones pass on, that it was worth it… and that one day, it will be worth it again.

Rainbow Bridge Can Comfort One Dealing with the Loss of A Pet

Whether you are dealing with the loss of a pet yourself or helping a loved one manage their pain, the Rainbow Bridge is always a nice story to share your sympathy in a very empathetic and caring way.

Rainbow Bridge Poem


To share this infographic on your site, simply copy and paste the code below:

Video: Rainbow Bridge Song

Disclaimer: The information provided through this website should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.

Disclaimer: This website contains reviews, opinions and information regarding products and services manufactured or provided by third parties. We are not responsible in any way for such products and services, and nothing contained here should be construed as a guarantee of the functionality, utility, safety or reliability of any product or services reviewed or discussed. Please follow the directions provided by the manufacturer or service provider when using any product or service reviewed or discussed on this website.

Sara is a writer for Canine Journal. She adores dogs and recently adopted a rescue pup named Beamer. Whole she may be adjusting to life with another being to care for, she needed no time to adjust to all the extra love.

Leave a Reply

newest oldest most voted
Monday February 11, 2019 was our beloved Angel’s last day with us. A very special thank you to our local SPCA for their compassion and help during the most difficult day of our family’s lives. We took Angels sister, Allie, with us to say goodbye. They both came home Christmas Eve 2006 as a present for our daughter. We all were present as Angel took her final breath. The vet allowed us as much time with Angel after the anesthesia as well as after she was given her final moment. Grief does not even begin to describe the pain, emptiness, and sorrow we all feel. Angels, best companion and sister Allie did sniff her after she passed. She knows and she is sad too. Always knew there would be a time to say goodbye but didn’t think it would come so fast. Angel, you gave us 12 wonderful years girl. You were beyond smart. We will forever miss you, your communication, and your beautiful personality. I’m sorry baby that we had to let you go. LOVE YOU SO MUCH!
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
I’m so sorry for your loss, Donna. Your family is in my thoughts.
I had to say Good bye to Mylie, my 7 year old Yorkie. I am still in Shock. It was totally unexpected. I held her in my arms and talked to her, Prayed for her and thanked her for all the Love, Laughs and Joy she brought to my life. I don’t have children so my two Yorkies were my babies. They helped me get through the loss of my Mother and only brother. Cinamin and I are helping each other get through. The next hurdle will be picking up her remains from our Vet.
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
I’m so sorry for your loss.
I lost my Miniature Poodle Sunday two years ago. I miss her dearly and think of her daily. Will the pain of losing her ever go away? Sunday was 4 years old…
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
I’m sorry for your loss, Keith. Grief is different for everyone. A part of you will likely always miss her but you may learn to manage those feelings better as time passes. You are in my thoughts.
Nana Gayle
Our sweet one eyed Addie crossed to the Rainbow Bridge yesterday morning. There is such an absence. Thoughts swell and tears come. I know time will help and memories twill take over but now it is devastating to be without her.
My Roxy left yesterday. It was heavy and one of few times I cried in my adult life. Rest now my fat princess. Thanks for being a part our family.
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
I’m sorry for your loss, Max.
Tasha left me on Wednesday at 2.30 pm I can’t believe she’s gone
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
I’m so sorry for your loss, Maggs.
My beloved Yellow Lab Max succumbed to cancer in his liver yesterday. I feel exactly like the other dog owners here. I see him everywhere in my house and imagine he is still following me and playing with me all day. I hope that this gets easier as time goes on, but I’m not sure…
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
I’m sorry for your loss, Steve.
I rescued my Amba ten month ago, of course didn’t have any medical records, she was the most beautiful smart funny happy loveable (spoodke)doggie I ever had,she had bit of allergies but was under control.. last week she started to throw up, I didn’t make much of it I thought she must have eaten something that upset her tummy, and I thought it will pass, the second day she wouldn’t move her eyes followed me everywhere.. I could see she was in pain, took her to the vet had test done and come out she had acute pancreatitis, was put on a drip and was given lots of meds to relieve her pain, but unfortunately she died during the night.. I feel sooo bad , I feel so Quilty , why didn’t I took to the for test the very first.. why did I had to wait till the second day.. it’s my fault she died.. all alone.. how am I gone to get over this.. I miss her… I want her back… my heart is so broken.. I can’t even see what I’m writing cause can’t stop crying.. can’t even talk about this with family they think I’m dramatic.. I miss my gorgeous doggie❤️
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
I’m sorry for your loss.
I didn’t have to have put to sleep thank god she left me on our walk she became tired
So I said come on let’s go back my best girl I always called her that Tasha was a husky / mulmut
The most beautiful blues eyes you have ever seen really people would stop me to ask her name
She didn’t have pups I decided that she was 13 years & 3 months old when she went over the
Rainbow .we have buried her in our garden just as the sun was going down my son did the
Digging crying am totly gutted not stoped crying but I have my husband who loved Tasha too.
To every one who’s pet has passed in 2019 I wish you love
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
I’m so sorry, Maggs.
My beloved Tasha passed away on Wednesday at 2.30pm on our last walk.
She had been poorly but I just wasn’t ready for her to leave me .
I think I’ve gone mad x
Becky Lester
Had to put my beloved Ella May down two days ago. She was a yorkie,chihuaua,jack Russell mix. Almost 9 years old. 6 months ago we found out she had diabetes was dealing with that ok. Then last Monday she got very ill went to vet they gave her meds. Got worse took her back did x-ray found a cancerous tumor by her stomach. What a slap in the face had no idea it was there. She seen the vet regular. I miss her so very much but I was the good pet owner and stayed with her right to the end.It was hard but I promised her.
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
I’m sorry for your loss.
My little Jojo is almost fourteen years old. I got her when I was five, and I’ve grown up with her. I’ve watched her get old and weak, and I haven’t brought myself to even think about death until I realized she couldn’t climb the steps anymore. Your writing is going to help me a lot, because I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it will be when she really is gone forever.
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
I’m sorry you are having to think about this, Megan. Enjoy your time left with Jojo. Take lots of photos of videos so you can cherish her when she is no longer around. We are thinking of you and Jojo.
I had to make the decision to put my beloved scooby a 10 year old beagle jack Russell cross to sleep this afternoon due to “the worst case of diabetes the vet has ever seen “, i just cant believe he is gone, I really want him back more than words can explain i pet him on the head and gave him a kiss, but i felt so guilty and like it was my fault, i just really miss him and want him back.
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
I’m so sorry, Nathan.
Nathan I can just imagine how you are feeling, I loss my beagle a month ago to a drowning in a swimming pool, I still cant even look in the direction of the pool, still grieving her loss. But I feel she is just waiting for me on the other side of the bridge.
Me too my beloved baby is gone my heart is broken
lost my baby gracie, a 10 year old miniature schnauzer about 3 hours ago. she went into congestive heat failure and had trouble breathing, but i got to kiss her little head and pet her in all of he favorite places one last time. the grief is nearly unbearable, and i long to hold her in my arms again. can’t wait to cross the rainbow bridge and see her again, i miss her more than words can explain.
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
I’m sorry Maggie. You are in my thoughts.
Maggie,I too feel the same pain.My schnauzer was a rescue almost 12 years ago.I have no idea how old Painter is but his health spiralled after Christmas-We are counting hours and making him as loved and comfortable as possible.I fear facing the moment and the days without my little buddy:
Maggie I as well feel the pain you are going thru, its been a month and I just cannot get over the loss of my Lucy. Not sure if I should go out and get another dog to help ease the pain
Schanell Rivas
Omg I lost my miniature schnauzer on Wednesday . I’m devastated. I too long to be with her soon. Bonnie would have been 10 in april
Claire Morris
I lost my beautiful big black girl Betty the Greyhound Saturday 5th January 2019. She had been on a steady decline and I had to make the heartbreaking decision to have her euthanazed she was eleven years old. I talked to her the whole time stroking kissing and cuddling her she was so so brave my beautiful loving funny girl. The pain is overwhelming it was just Betty and me and now she has gone. I hear her tag jingling but she is not there I see her greyhoundo grin in the shadow but she is not there. God bless my beautiful girl, run in those meadows with your new friends and keep me in your heart forever as I will you. You were my sweetest sweetest loyal loving friend and I am totally heartbroken x
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
I’m sorry Claire, you are in my thoughts.
Jing Santos
I lost my youngest dog yesterday when i brought him home i opted for home medication and support instead of euthanesia. After an hour he passed away. I was able to tell him goodbye and how much i love him and it’s ok to stop the fight already as i know he’s braver than me because he didn’t show any signs of him suffering.
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
I am so sorry for your loss.
My beautiful whippet panda had to be put to sleep on the 3rd of January 2019 she had been poorly for a couple of months , we had many tests done , even a CT scan which showed nothing , we even tried medications , she lost more weight in the end and the vets said there was nothing more that could be done for her , I’m absolutely heartbroken , she was so loving and loyal , my house seems so quiet ,I keep going to call her name and then I realise , I can’t sleep , she’s all I can think about , I haven’t stopped crying , I don’t know how to deal with it , I am utterly broken
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
I’m sorry for your loss, Bex. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a friend or family member for support. It is perfectly normal for you to feel so sad after losing someone so close to you.
I am so sorry for your loss. I know exactly what you’re feeling!!! This heartbreak is unbearable. I can’t blow dry my hair- my girl would come over and want to be blow dried, I can’t sleep- my girl slept literally curled up at my stomach, I can’t sit on the sofa or anywhere for that matter because she was always in my lap. She made 4 trips across country with me and was MY love. Everyone says it will get easier- God I hope so because I know I can handle this pain. ❤️ Hope you feel better soon.
Alina I am going thru the same thing, I think I have grieved more for my Lucy, than anything. I know I have to move on but its easier said then done,I was just too attached to my Lucy, everywhere I went so did she.
Diana West
I’m so sorry your loss. It feels like your heart will never mend. I lost my lovely girl meg on the 7 January 2019. She was a westie and 12 years old. I miss her so much. She went everywhere with was always just me and her. We had hoildays together. I remember one year taking her on a steam train. She loved it looking out the window watching the world go by. She had arthritis as she got older but she was on medication. She had flare ups and went to the vets but I always brought her back home. Only this time her back legs collapsed completely and she was put on morphine for the pain. Nothing more could be done for her so she had to be put to sleep. The pain in my heart is unbelievable. I had her cremated and purchased a memory bear that her ashes are now in so I can at least still give her a cuddle.. but I can’t cope with the lose and can’t stop crying.
My sweet baby was put down 2 days ago. He was a happy healthy jack russell and in a matter of 3days, he fell so ill that when I took him to the vet, she advised we put him down because he was so far gone and was suffering in pain. She explained that his liver shut down. We still don’t know what caused the liver failure. I keep hearing him every where in the house. I literally heard him sniffing by my bedroom window. I haven’t removed his belongings, I don’t know where to start. I lost my baby, my best friend and confidant. I am hurting beyond measure. He was my first baby. He taught me unconditional love. I hope and pray that I was a great mom. Wherever he is, I hope he knows that I’ve loved him, truly. I don’t know how to cope. I don’t even know how to deal with his passing. I’m emotional. I’m hurting so badly.
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
I’m so sorry for your loss.
Gary. Bratsos. Tel 339-987-1543
My dog died March 20019, would like to go to any meetings talking about. The dogs that died,
Kathy Scott Long Island New York
February 2004 my family adopted the most caring loving dog. On December 27, 2018 she was euthanized.
It’s s a cliche but she adopted us, she was with my children during elementary school, middle school, high school and almost thru college. She would stare at me with such love, I can’t help but think about her constantly, I miss her so much. Family and friends have comforted me by saying I was a great dog mom but still i can’t stop crying.
After reading the comments though I am happy she lived a great happy life. Rest In Peace my sweet.
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
I’m sorry for your loss, Kathy.
Thank You
I just lost my dog on the 22nd of December. He was 13 years old. It’s 2:50 am and I am reading articles about how to mourning a pet. It hurts so much.
6 weeks ago my constant companion (a shitzu) of 14 years was put to sleep. I have been crying ever since. I still hear him and see him everywhere in the house. My heart is shattered and I am in a black hole. I miss my little boy so much.
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
I’m so sorry Julie. You are in my thoughts.
My name is Gary and I am as well having much difficulties getting thru the grieving process, I owned 2 beagles, that were 11 years old. I lost Casey 4 months ago to Lyme diease , I had a tough time dealing with her lost, but I knew it was coming and she was better off instead of the suffering she had endured and I always had my Lucy. Well Christmas eve I let her out to do her business , I have a fenced in yard so she was safe. Until I started looking and calling for her. the only thing I thought was maybe someone left the gate open, so I spent hours driving around looking for her . After returning home , I thought to myself, something isnt right, I have a pool in our area, that is fenced in accept for the deck area, I started looking in the pool , which has a vinyl cover. Then I seen my beautiful beagle , drowned underneath the cover, I liked to died, I tried everything including cpr for and hour, but she had already passed. I am crying as I write, for she was the last thing I had cared for in my life.
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Gary, I’m so sorry for your loss. Please make sure you take care of yourself and seek out help and support from others if needed. It’s important to allow yourself time to grieve and it’s ok for you to not be ok right now. You are in my thoughts.
Thank you so much for the kind words Kimberly, and you are so right, time will heal all wounds
Two weeks ago today I lost both of my babies on the same day. Pumpkin was my 13 years old Pomeranian. She had been sick for a while with liver problems, she was on meds and we were trying to get her healthy again. She had good days and bad but mostly bad. Towards the end she needed help going to the bathroom and standing up in order to eat and drink. The night before she got very sick and I spent the whole night with her in the downstairs spare room. The next morning she was still very sick just laying there crying and getting up bc she kept having diarrhea. She was walking around the house for a bit and I went to do something real quick when I went into the kitchen to check on her a minute later there was yellow liquid all over the floor and she was just sitting there. I called my mom who works across the street from her house at the vet, she told us to bring her in and that this was probably it. We brought her as well as my 2 year old Maltese Lulu for emotional support. We had to make the decision to put Pumpkin down since it was the final stages of her life and she was suffering. We said our goodbyes and eventually we left and walked to my moms house with Lulu. About an hour or so later we were all together grieving. Lulu and my parents dog had to go outside so my mom let them out into the fenced in backyard. No one knew the side gate which no one ever opens somehow got open. My mom went to check on them saw the gate was open and started yelling. Myself and my husband ran out, when we got to the street I saw Lulu just laying there. I just started screaming. I couldn’t do anything else. My husband carefully picked her up and ran her back to the vet. I ran inside calling for my Dad and brother. My Dad tried to get me to calm down while my Brother went to check to see what was going on. A little while later I went over there, they were trying to stabilize her so we could get her to the hospital, but she never made it. That was the absolute worst day of my life and I just cannot get past it. I knew it was coming with Pumpkin but it was still the most heart wrenching thing to experience. Lulu was supposed to be here to help us get through it. I have just felt so much guilt for letting my guard down due to my grief over Pumpkin. Pumpkin was with me for 13 years, she was there for my first apartment, my marriage, buying my house. Lulu was my little shadow. She followed me everywhere and constantly was in my lap. I miss everything about them. I miss the feel of their fur, the way they smelled, the sound of their bark. The way Lulu would give out a little growl at me when she wants my attentions. Seeing their little faces every morning when I woke up. Taking them to the park and seeing how happy they were to be outside walking with us. I miss seeing Lulus face in the window when I would come home from work and how she would jump around when I got into the house. I miss playing ball with Lulu and even taking care of Pumpkin even when she got sick. I miss all of the little things they did that only I knew about because I was their Momma. I feel so useless and lost and like I’ll never find that same happiness again. They were my soulpups. I love you girls and I will never forget you.
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
I am so sorry, Stefanie. My thoughts are with you.
Oh Stephanie. I’m so sorry for your loss. You put perfectly what it is to be a dog mom. I just lost my baby boy. I miss him so much. C.
I know the pain you are going thru, just loosing my Lucy on Christmas eve, Drowning in a swimming pool, she was everything to me.
My kelpie meg was found to be diabetic in spring and being 13 and very active we opted for the insulin course. She had 2 jabs a day after her meals and was her same usual self. Last Friday we where let down by the delivery of insulin claiming they couldn’t find the house. Saturday she was fine, through Sunday she began to take a turn for the worse, so I called the emergency vets and bought a vile of insulin and gave her usual amount jab, by now she was drinking water and throwing it up minutes later, she was laying on the floor and wouldn’t move, her breathing got heavier through the night and she would refuse her water. While I was up stairs in the bath she managed to get to the mat in the living room. I was thinking she must be getting better, her breathing became less labourerd. I put a bowl of fresh water near her and a blanket around her. I tried to give her some water using a pipet she licked it up. By now it was 4.30 in the morning and I could barely stay awake. I decided to sleep on the sofa at the side of her to comfort her, I could see her watching me as if she was begging to come on the sofa. I left the t.v on quiet in the background and drifted off. For some strange reason I woke up at 6.30 well before my alarm. When I looked across I couldn’t see her belly moving. I put my ear near her chest to listen for a beat and she was still very warm, but nothing. She must of passed away not long before I woke up. I feel really angry about the delivery and blame myself for maybe not going to the vet Friday and getting some emergency insulin. I feel like I should of stayed up that extra hour to hold her and tell how much I love her when she passed. My mind is researching whether I should of give more insulin than her normal dose. I feel so lost and the house is so cold without her. Not hearing her scratch the door to go to the toilet, the little dance she’d do when I come home, and all the other little things that made her. I just hope she died in her sleep peacefully. I miss her like crazy,
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
Robert, I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine the pain you are feeling. My thoughts are with you.
My big guy Jack, a pug, passed away last night suddenly. It was so sudden and heartbreaking, I’m having trouble dealing with it. Me and my wife always said he’s what kept us together when we were dating. We got him after only dating for 2 weeks. He was our first kid. I’m sitting here watching the Eagles game and normally he would be laying next to me with his head on my leg. It’s gonna take a long time, if ever, to get over losing him. I miss you Bubba Jack.
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
I’m sorry for your loss, Scott. How amazing that he was with you throughout dating, an engagement and marriage. I hope you have many wonderful memories with him. My thoughts are with you.
Ellen Bugansky
How do you get over a pet that looked at you with love lights in his eyes. Followed you like you were the only one in the world. That asked me to save him and I just couldn’t. All the money and supposed best specialist s a couldn’t diagnosis him and he went so fast. My heart us broken
Ellen I feel the pain, so sorry for what we have to go thru, loosing a pet. I lost my Lucy on Christmas Eve, I just cannot stop crying thinking of her
Hi,Well today I got off the bus and my neighbors who are my friends parents that live on our block broke down the news that my dog had passed,he got ran over and I really don’t know how,but we were told he didn’t look in pain,he was a happy dog,and he was my baby but now that he’s gone I feel like there is a missing part of me,and it’s him,I loved him,I only had him for two years and that was the best time,my dad said I could get another one,but he just can’t be replaced,and I don’t wanna go through any pain anymore so long libe Bailey,fly high my little king❤️
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
I’m so sorry, Lea.
Sofia Michelon
Yesterday, my little Terrier Tess got loose, ran into a busy street and got hit by a car. My father called telling me the bad news after I had finished my classes. She died on the spot from the impact. I’m so heart broken by her death. I just wish she didn’t have to die alone, in the cold, on the road. If I had known it would end like this I would’ve spent more time with her or done more for her. I only had Tess for five years, but they were the best 5 years since my previous dog died from becoming paralyzed. The feeling of knowing that I am never going to see my little Tess again is so painful but I guess these things happen. 🙁
Rest in peace my angel, November 27, 2018
Kimberly Alt (Admin)
I’m so sorry for your loss, Sofia.