Coping and Healing After the Loss of a Dog

September 9, 2020

As we highlight Tex, it is important to recognize how losing a canine companion can be a very painful and sad time in our lives. When it comes to grief from the loss of a dog, some pet owners can deal with the loss, while others find it is very difficult. Here are some ideas to keep in mind if you or someone you know has to say goodbye to a beloved pet.


How to Cope with the Loss of a Pet

First and foremost know this: It’s ok to grieve.

Some may not understand the true bond of a pet and a human. Do not worry about those people. Allow yourself time to be sad and do whatever is necessary to recognize it.

  • Do not set a timeline. It will be even more difficult to say “next week will be better” and then when next week comes, you do not feel better. Losing a pet is difficult. Do not put a timeline on when you will be “over” this loss.
  • Allow yourself the grace of memories and happiness. If you are happy, your pet will still be happy. It's ok to focus on the positive they brought to your life. Embrace the paw prints they left behind on your heart. 
  • Silence is sometimes deafening. When you have a home with a dog, you are used to the patter of footsteps, the barks and they squeaky toys. While you could turn on music or television to add to the “white noise” sound in your home, just being aware of the silence will help you prepare for the emotions associated with it.

Celebrate your Pet's life in a meaningful way

It's also healing to celebrate their life and how they made you feel. Some ideas include:

  • Place a headstone or garden stone in your yard.
  • Plant a tree, flower or bush in your dog’s honor.
  • Scatter your canine companion’s ashes in his favorite outdoor spot.
  • Make a scrapbook of photos featuring your pup.

Celebrate your pet's life on these pet memorial holidays:

On these days, you can do these simple things to celebrate the life they gave you:

  • Light a candle in their honor.
  • View photos of your dog and remember the good times.
  • Post your favorite photo on your social media and share it with your friends.
  • Make a donation to your favorite pet charity in their honor.

When should you Get another Pet after the death of your Pet?

Only you can answer this question. For some, they may want to go out and get another dog right away. Just remember that just like people, every dog is unique. Do not get the same breed of dog and expect it to be just like your previous dog. It will always disappoint you. And just like your second born child, comparing it to your first born will not be productive.

Consider this: there are other pets out there that need love. Start with a visit to your local pet shelter, or even volunteer to see how you feel around other dogs. You might even decide to bring one home from your favorite animal shelter. But before you commit, you can still enjoy time with dogs by doing things to help those in need. Consider honoring your pet no longer with us by:

  • Contributing money to an animal-related charity in your pet’s name.
  • Volunteering at a local animal shelter.
  • Donating items you may have that your dog did not use such as unopened bags of food, kennels and unused toys. 


The AKC also recommends this article on Grieving a Pet. Are you grieving a pet? Our thoughts are with you as you heal. Remember, the paw prints they left on your heart will last forever. Be thankful for the time you had and they memories you have of them. As long as you have that, they will live on forever.

Please share your favorite photo of your Rainbow Bridge dog on our FaceBook page! We love all dogs, especially those who have given unconditionally throughout their lives.