How to Cope with The Death of a Pet: 5 Steps to Take

Many pet owners share an unbreakable bond with their pets. Their beloved pet is not “just a dog” or “just a cat” but rather a source of unfaltering love, joy, and companionship in our lives. The loss of their pet is the loss of a loved family member. We’ve put together this guide on how to cope with the death of a pet.

The relationship shared between a pet and its owner can be very powerful. These relationships bring significant emotional support, unwavering companionship, and a sense of meaning to many.

Pets cheer you up on your worst days, keep you active and social, give your days structure, and are always happy to spend time with you no matter what. Sometimes, the loss of a pet can be more traumatic than losing a human loved one because of the significant impact that they have on your everyday life.

While many people might not understand the depth of the relationship that you shared with your pet, you should never feel ashamed or guilty for grieving their loss. Read on to learn about steps you can take after the death of your beloved animal friend.

Related: How to Help a Grieving Dog Through the Loss of Their Furry Friend

How to cope with the death of a pet

1.     Give yourself and your family time to grieve

Every person experiences grief in a different way and it is important to remember that there is no right or wrong way to deal with the loss of a loved one.

The level of grief you experience will often depend on factors such as the circumstances of your pet’s death, the age of your pet as well as your age and personality. Generally, the more significant the relationship with your pet was to you, the more intense the emotional pain you’ll feel.

You need to give yourself and your family time to mourn the loss of your furry family member. Your pet may have been part of your family for a long time, and it’s going to take some time to move on after they have passed – this is something you are going to have to accept.

Give yourself the space to be angry, to be sad, or to be happy that you got to share time with such a cherished pet – take the time to feel each emotion in your own way.

2.     Reach out to others who have experienced losing a pet

Connecting with family and friends after the loss of your pet can be helpful and comforting during this difficult time. However, confiding in those who have also experienced the loss of a pet can be a tremendous help as they can truly empathise with your loss.

If you do not have a relative or friend who has lost a pet, try searching online platforms or asking your local veterinarian or animal shelter for recommendations for pet support groups.

3.     Celebrate your pet’s life

Holding a memorial for your cherished animal friend will give you the space to share happy memories, look at photographs, mourn with those who loved your pet, and may provide some closure after your devastating loss.

Here are some ideas to celebrate the life of your furry friend:

  • Write down memories or letters to your pet and place them into a box, which can be buried with your pet, or buried in a meaningful place that you can visit. Let your children decorate the box and include pictures, toys, blankets, and other special memorabilia.
  • Create an outdoor memorial by planting a tree or placing a stone in a place where you shared memories with your pet.
  • Compile a photo book of your pet, where you can write down memories next to each picture. This is a way to remember the fun, loving memories of your pet.
  • Honour your pet by donating or volunteering at a local animal shelter. This might help you heal by giving you a sense of purpose and receiving furry cuddles!

4.     Maintain your other pets’ schedules

If you have other precious pets at home, they will share your grief after the loss of their pal. Like humans, each pet will experience its grief differently. You may start to see your pet becoming lethargic, having a decreased appetite, and staying close to their deceased tug-of-war partner’s bed.

Be sure to keep an eye on your pet and watch out for signs of depression following the traumatic loss of their buddy. The best way to help your remaining pet heal (as well as you!) is to keep to your normal routine.

Don’t skip out on those evening cuddles, early morning walks, or the much-anticipated treat times, as sticking to your schedule will ensure that your pet feels supported and that you remain purposeful and active during your time of grief.

5.     Know the right time to get a new pet

There are many wonderful reasons for owning an animal friend, but the decision of when to get a new pet after loss is a very personal one.

Many may be tempted to rush out and get a new pet to attempt to fill the void left after losing their beloved animal family member, however, it is important to give yourself and your family time to mourn your loss and work through the grief before opening up your home and heart to a new energetic puppy or a cuddly cat.

Pet owners may take a few months to heal, some may take years. You will know when it is time to bring a new furry member into your home, and when you do – consider adopting from your local shelter. There are many animals filled with love to give, that are waiting for their new homes.

Discover: 7 Ways to Prepare When Bringing Home a Rescue Dog

Losing a pet is very hard, and unfortunately, it is likely something that you will deal with when you bring a furry friend into your life. Be sure to cover your pet with reliable pet insurance so that if the dreaded day arrives, they can deal with the nitty-gritty financial side of things so that you don’t have to while you mourn your beloved pet’s loss.

Yours in Not-So-Average Pet Advice,

The Team