How To Deal With The Death Of Your Dog

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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 CanineJournal.com 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 Forum.

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 Forum 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

Video: Rainbow Bridge Song

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.

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35 Comments on "How To Deal With The Death Of Your Dog"

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Kenny
Kenny

Hi my thoughts are with you. Tomorrow we have decided that our friend Henry must have the injection. He can’t breathe any more the poor chap.
As l write l cry.

Kimberly Alt
Admin
Kimberly Alt

I’m so sorry Kenny.

Bryce
Bryce

My dog who I had for eight years died five hours ago I miss her so much

Gillian Morris
Gillian Morris

Im so genuingly uoset for you. Im so sorry i really am

Kimberly Alt
Admin
Kimberly Alt

I’m so sorry for your loss Bryce. Know that our thoughts are with you at this time.

elna
elna

Hi everyone. I live in Springs, South Africa. I lost my beloved Uno 2 weeks ago. She was born in my house, first and only puppy in the litter. German Shepherd. Uno was my shadow. My companion. My everything. Only 2 1/2 yrs old.
She was poisoned with a deadly substance called “two step poison”, smuggled across our borders from neighbouring states. Your animal has about 25min to live once she ate it, baited in meat. She died in my arms at the vet. What a horrible horrible death! I still cry every day. I have repeated nightmares. I cant sleep. I miss my baby. Her place is so empty. Oh how I miss my baby. My baby.
She was the 3rd dog in our street in a week to die such a barbaric death! I try to be brave, but I am so weak! Thank you for the rainbow song, but now I cry again. Thank you for this page, to be able to share my pain and loss. RIP my beloved Uno!!

Kimberly Alt
Admin
Kimberly Alt

Elna, I am so terribly sorry for your loss. What a tragic story. I hope the person(s) responsible for these murders is caught. Our thoughts are with you during this difficult time.

Krystal
Krystal

yesterday my sweet baby Eli crossed the rainbow bridge. I loved him with my entire heart and soul for 11 wonderful years. He was so full of life up until his final days when he suddenly got extremely ill and I could tell by the look in my eyes he was ready to go. We took him to the vet and there he crossed the rainbow bridge. I’m not crying because he passed – I knew in my heart that it was time for him to move on. I’m sad because I miss him so dearly. He was my best friend and my baby and my everything. I love you so so much Eli. More than I can even express. I don’t know what I’m going to do without you my sweet boy. I just want to hold your big chubby body in my arms one last time.

Riley
Riley

I am so sorry Krystal. I feel your pain all too well. We have decided as a family that it is time for our beloved Pomeranian, Fox, to cross the rainbow bridge this week. We just found out his liver and kidneys are failing, and it has been one of the toughest days of my life. Though he isn’t gone yet I can’t stop sobbing. The hardest thing I’ve ever experienced is watching him grow old and develop so many problems associated with his age. He has been such a wonderful staple in our family for the past 13 years. It’s true that they let you know when they’re ready to move on, the light has gone from his eyes and he spends most of his time sleeping. I am absolutely heart broken at the thought of no longer having him welcome me when I come home. He is an amazing dog and one of the biggest lights in my life. I love you sweet Fox.
Sending hugs your way xx

Kimberly Alt
Admin
Kimberly Alt

Hi Riley, I’m so sorry to hear about Fox. He sounds like the best dog and I’m sure he knows how much you and your family love him. Thinking of you during this time.

Michelle Schenker
Admin
Michelle Schenker

Krystal, Thanks for sharing your story of Eli. Our hearts go out to you during this troubling time. <3

Eileen smith
Eileen smith

My dogs appointment is in two hours. I am drained. Of all days he is perky. I keep thinking this is his last walk, his last poop his last…I will be with him for his last breath but the time waiting for his appointment is the worst.

Gayla Greenfield
Gayla Greenfield

I lost my little Sophie August 1! I’m so depressed and heartbroken! I don’t go an hour in the day where I don’t think of her.
Sophie had kidney disease then got very aggressive cancer. Soph was 12 and half years old, a cairn terrier mix. She was my best little companion, I to felt like she could understand words. So many times it seemed like she was going to start speaking! Sophie was always happy to see me, listen to me and go wherever I took her.
I have not stopped crying since August 1st when I had to have her euthanized. She has stopped eating and drinking. So I had to do the thing I dreaded the most, take her in!
Somehow I got strength and held her and told “the doctor is going to make you feel better”
After I was told she was gone, I felt like a sledge hammer hit me in the stomach and almost passed out!
How, oh how do I miss her!
How does one accept this?

Kimberly Alt
Admin
Kimberly Alt

I’m so sorry Gayla. Ultimately, it just takes time and that can vary from person to person. Our thoughts are with you during this difficult time.

Cole Chambers
Cole Chambers

My dog died yesturday I’m dealing with depression she has been with me my who life I’m 12 she was 12

Kimberly Alt
Admin
Kimberly Alt

I’m so sorry Cole. Our thoughts are with you during this difficult time. Make sure to take care of yourself and get any help you need for your depression. And feel free to share any of your favorite stories of your dog with us if you think that will help. Thank you for sharing with us and our thoughts are with you.

Anna
Anna

My dog Maggie had gotten injered really bad by a car accident two days ago and its been really hard to deal with her loss because she also had a sister that lived with us who had never been seperated from Maggie. Maggie was everything to my she was my best friend,someone who was alway there for me, and who i was never mad at.She was my baby and now she is gone.We only had her for two year but i was the best two years of my life. I have been crying nonstop and every time i think about her or go to her grave I care….I dont know how to deal with it.

Kimberly Alt
Admin
Kimberly Alt

I’m so sorry for your loss Anna. Please know that our thoughts are with you during this time. Thank you for sharing with us.

Maria
Maria

I lost my my precious Maggie last Monday 08/14 and then her older sister Iris just a few minutes ago 08/17. I was the one who held them in my arms the moment they were born until their last breath. It was the most painful thing I have to go through. I have no kids and have treated them like my own. I’m writing this with tears rolling down, too much I don’t think I can stop. I know it will take time for me to recover or think of having another fur baby. For now, I have to deal with my grief. I miss them so much, the pain could be so unbearable sometimes.

Sandra
Sandra

I’m so sorry for ur loss Maria.i too lost my lovely poodle and like u have no children ..i thot my heart was going to break and it took a while before i was able to face the day without thinking of her every minute or breaking down uncontrollably.i can totally empathise with ur loss.u take care x

Kimberly Alt
Admin
Kimberly Alt

Sandra, thank you for reaching out to a fellow reader with your condolences. I wanted to let you know that you are in my thoughts as well and that I am sorry for your loss.

Minerva Buelna
Minerva Buelna

I also wrote with tears down my face…. My Rottweiler of two years accidentally trapped himself into the bathroom while we were away and died of heat stroke. I do have kids and I considered Lushen my child as well….

I blame myself for not closing all the doors in the house. He was our protector and our love… My kids now have to learn of loss and grief and I am left wondering what would have been for my baby…

I am hysterical and don’t know how to cope… My little rotty was my life, just as my kids…

Kimberly Alt
Admin
Kimberly Alt

I’m so sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you during this time.

Kimberly Alt
Admin
Kimberly Alt

Maria, I am so sorry for your losses. My heart aches reading your comment. I’m so glad you were able to be with them during their final moments. I’m sure your pups appreciated being wrapped in your arms as they took their last breath. Thank you for sharing with us and know that you are in our thoughts.

Inah
Inah

Our beloved dog Tj passed away 2 days ago. We’ve been blessed to have him for 17 years. I was 15 years old when we got him. I treat him not as a pet but like a little brother and it hurts so much to know that my little brother is gone. I already suffer from depression and now I’m having a really hard time coping up w it.I don’t even know how my days will get by…I’m just really broken.

Kimberly Alt
Admin
Kimberly Alt

I’m so sorry for your loss, Inah. It’s important to allow yourself the time to grieve the loss of your brother. He will always be a big part of who you are. Thank you for sharing your story with us and know that our thoughts are with you during this difficult time.

Matthew Caceres
Matthew Caceres

I have just lost my dog Jaden in a very terrible way with him being attacked by my other dog Hoffman. He was a long-haired Chihuahua and he grew up with me and I grew up with him.The pain is settling a little knowing I still have my three other companions but he was by far my favorite and it will be hard to live without him but I like to think I’m managing well. Thank you for your time and support.

Angela
Angela

I just lost my dog, Milo, a couple days ago.
We had been together for about 13 years, and I always think he will be with me forever.
But suddenly he got sick and die. My best partner in crime is gone. Leaving me alone.
Going back home feels so different right now. There’s no walking fluffy that wait me at the door with his excited wagging tail and wait me calling his name and shake his head. Feels so empty.
And I still kepp want to keep calling his name, hope he coming back home.

Kimberly Alt
Admin
Kimberly Alt

Angela, thank you for sharing your story with us. It sounds like you had a wonderful relationship with your dog during those 13 years. I am so sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine what you are going through right now. You are in our thoughts and please feel free to share any of your favorite stories of Milo with us.

Warren
Warren

I just drove my granddaughter to work for the first time, without having Max in the car. It was difficult, to say the least. First, a strange thing happened. When I pulled out of my neighborhood, onto Rt 9G, I felt a breeze on my neck. I turn around to see if I had left the window open from this morning. No window was open.It made me feel good, because I felt Max was with me.
But, when I got to my daughter’s house, and my granddaughter came out, I cried, because normally, Max would have his head out the window, smiling and wagging his tail. The first thing Kayla would do was go to the rear window and pet and say hello to him.
I have never been this close to any other dog in my life. To me, Max wasn’t just a dog, he was my 2nd son. He had a personality that was almost human. Sometimes he would look at me, as if he wished he could talk. He would let us put hats, glasses, shirts, etc on him, and he would pose for pics. He loved when people came to the house. When he got excited, he would find a rock, and throw it all around, hitting it back and forth with his paws, like a soccer player. Everyone always got a kick out of that. He was also the most intelligent dog I have ever seen. He had 7 or 8 toys, and I could tell him to get a certain one, and he did. I can go on and on about him. I loved him so much, and will never feel the same about any other animal. He will always be a major part of my life, and live forever in my heart.

Kimberly Alt
Admin
Kimberly Alt

We are so sorry for your loss. It sounds like Max was a wonderful friend and one of a kind. Our thoughts are with you. Thank you for sharing about Max with us.

elston
elston

thank you for the support on grieving for out dog Rango who is in heaven right now watching over me and my family.

Kimberly Alt
Kimberly Alt

I’m so sorry for your loss and our thoughts are with you.

Rory
Rory

Thanks this has been very helpful.

Kimberly Alt
Kimberly Alt

You’re welcome Rory, and so sorry for your loss.

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