A leash and an empty dog bowl.

How to Handle the Loss of a Pet

Pets become an important part of our lives, and losing one can be devastating. Every loss is different and how a person responds is unique to their personality. Here are ways people respond to the loss of a pet and tips on how to better deal with a loss.

How People Deal with the Loss of a Pet

For some owners, the pet is considered their child or family member, and they grieve deeply. Other owners have the mindset that “it was just a dog.”

Below are some common emotional reactions to the loss of a pet:

Many of these emotional responses can be categorized into the stages of grief that include anger, denial, depression, acceptance and bargaining. Learn more about these stages by going to Pet Loss Support: Helping You Cope After Your Dog’s Death.

As you deal with the loss of a pet, it is important to know the following:

  1. You are not alone. Other pet lovers have lost companions and may feel the same way as you.
  2. It is normal to be incredibly sad and feel devastated. These emotions demonstrate how much you loved and cared about your pet. Take care of yourself. Your veterinarian may have suggestions for local pet loss grief support groups. If you’re seeking phone numbers for a pet loss support hotlines, go to Pet Loss Support: Helping You Cope After Your Dog’s Death.
  3. When the time is right, it is okay to move on and get another pet. Your lost pet can never be replaced, but it is okay to love again and many lonely animals need the love and compassion that only you can offer.