Losing A Pet Is Losing A Member Of The Family: Here’s How To Get Through It

Old photo of a little girl hugging a small dog

A pet, whether it’s a dog, a cat, a rabbit, a guinea pig, a gerbil or a horse is part of the family, and is widely loved and known by everyone. Pets can stay in the family for years and they can be an important part of your children’s upbringing. Pets bring so much joy – they can entertain you, make you laugh, play with you and charm you with their little personalities. So, when the time comes and they pass away it can be very difficult to cope with your grief. In this article we will give you some help for dealing with things when the inevitable happens and your pet passes on.

Release Your Guilt

Medium-sized dog held in the arms of a man

Often, when a pet dies, you can end up feeling pretty guilty because you think that there is more that you could have done. Perhaps you weren’t up to date with their injections at the vet, or perhaps you feel that you just didn’t spend enough quality time with them. Maybe you didn’t realize that they were ill, or maybe you were the one with the horrible job of asking a vet to put them down. There is often a lot of guilt associated with the loss of a pet, so if you are feeling in any way guilty then try to let yourself off the hook. Remember all the good things you did for your pet, and remember how well they were treated.

Explain it to the Children

Two children cuddling a dog lying on the grass
Children and their dog

Your children will take the death of a pet very badly too so it’s important to help them process their grief. Depending on their age, they may not be able to process all of the emotions that they are feeling, so it’s really vital that you let them talk through their feelings. Don’t rush out and get a replacement straight away – your kids will probably want you to do this but they are actually then missing out on an important stage of the grieving process. No animal can be ‘replaced’ any more than a human being can – they are all one-offs just like us. Understand that your children are going to be sad about it for a while but distract them by talking about all the good times that you had with your pet.

Get Rid of the Reminders

Dog chewing on a blue toy

One of the hardest things about losing a pet is all the reminders of their absence. So throw away their food (or give it to someone you know that can use it). Take their food bowl and put it away in a cupboard, and try and remove all other signs of them from the house and garden. Of course, you will get a new pet in time, but for the time being it’s best to stop taunting yourself with constant reminders.

When the time comes and you feel ready, it may be a good idea to start looking for a new pet. They will be a very welcome, much-loved addition to the family and they will bring their own personality to the mix!

Nancy Baker, the author of this article, is a freelance blogger, currently writing for, Pond Point Animal Hospital, leading providers of preventive and emergency veterinarian services for your pets. She is an avid badminton fan and participates in amateur tournaments in the city. You can contact Nancy @Nancy_Baker_.

A pet portrait makes a lovely memento of a departed pet.  Please visit my web site at Pet Portraits by Deena and see the many portraits I have painted. 10% of proceeds goes to support CorgiAid.