Dealing with the Loss of a Pet

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Approximately 55% of the Nation’s households contain at least one pet. Out of these households, at least 90% of pet owners consider their pets to be important members of their family. Despite this fact, those who lose a pet must often suffer in silence because society does not see it as a legitimate loss.

Grieving the loss of a pet can be as difficult as grieving the loss of anyone who is close to us. Experiencing denial, anger, blaming, depression, and finally acceptance, the normal stages of the grieving process is common.

Some tips to facilitate the process of grieving the loss of a pet include:

  • Give yourself permission to grieve
  • Avoid getting a new pet immediately
  • Do not minimize the loss
  • If euthanasia is necessary, take time to say goodbye properly
  • Talk about and memorialize your pet
  • Grieving for 6 months to about 1 year is not uncommon
  • Be honest with children regarding the death of the pet – avoid telling a child that the pet ‘ran away’, or the child may feel abandoned
  • Check with your veterinarian about possible pet loss support groups