What to Do When Your Dog Dies

Losing a beloved dog can feel like losing a best friend or a close family member. The unconditional love, unwavering loyalty, and genuine companionship that dogs show their humans endears them to our hearts and makes them some of the most precious parts of our lives. When we lose our dogs, either unexpectedly or due to old age, it can be a devastating and heartbreaking experience, and it’s important to know that it's okay to not be okay.

sad and sick dog

Whether you’re preparing for the eventual loss as your dog ages or faced with a sudden and unexpected loss, understanding how to cope with grief after losing your pet is essential to the healing process.


Preparing for the Inevitable: Exploring Approaches as Your Dog Ages

When your dog is nearing the twilight of its life, even acknowledging the looming prospect of taking them to the vet and putting them down can be difficult to bear. However, as much as we don’t want to dwell on unpleasant thoughts, preparing for the loss of a pet can help you understand your feelings and come to terms with the inevitabilities of life and death.

As your dog ages, they may slow down quite a bit, requiring additional patience and help from you as they are unable to do all the things they used to do. They may walk a little slower, rest more often, and develop some of the same aches and pains that we do as we get older. Caring for your senior dog in their final months, weeks, and days and preparing for their passing can bring you and your animal even closer as you both make the most of the time you have left together. Here are a few tips that can help you cherish the final few days of your furry companion’s life and prepare yourself emotionally for their last moments:  

·      Provide comfort. Senior dogs may experience health issues that can make them uncomfortable. Scheduling regular check-ups with your veterinarian can help solve smaller issues, manage their pain, and keep them comfortable in their final days. The focus of these visits should be on maintaining their quality of life and ensuring they aren’t suffering.

Chihuahua Sad dog

·      Cherish every moment. As your dog reaches the end of their life, you want to capture as many memories as possible through photos, videos, or simply spending quality time with them. These precious moments will serve as a source of comfort and joy in the challenging times to come.

·       Consider professional guidance. There are a variety of resources available that can help you navigate your dog’s end-of-life process and the grief journey you will undergo afterward. An experienced veterinarian, pet loss grief counselor, or pet loss support group can provide emotional strength, empathy, and practical guidance during this difficult time. No one should face grief alone. Talking about how we feel and exploring ways to cope with those feelings is essential to the healing process.


Handling the Unexpected Departure of Your Dog

For pet owners, losing your dog unexpectedly can be even more difficult. Sudden tragedy that catches us unaware makes the pain of loss even more acute and severe, and there is no way to prepare for the pain it can cause.

If you lose your beloved animal without warning, without a chance to properly say goodbye, it can cause extreme feelings of sadness, guilt, and regret, which can be difficult to overcome. These emotions are normal, but processing them takes patience, self-awareness, and self-care. Here are a few tips for dealing with the shock, disbelief, and heartbreak of losing a pet unexpectedly:

·      Allow yourself time to grieve. The death of your dog isn’t simply losing a pet—it’s losing a close friend, an irreplaceable companion, and a source of joy. When it happens, it's important to allow yourself to feel the loss. Repressing your feelings and trying to ignore them will only delay the healing process. Cry if you feel like it, scream if you need to—just let it out.

·      Reach out for help. Again, dealing with grief on your own is nearly impossible. Don’t isolate yourself. Reach out to friends, family, or support groups who love you and understand your pain, and can help you process it. It’s therapeutic to share your feelings and experiences with those who know what you’re going through and understand the special bond you share with your furry friend.

Two Happy Dogs

·      Memorialize your pet. Creating a memorial, such as planting a tree, creating a photo album, or commissioning a memorial diamond from their cremation ashes, can help in honoring your pet's memory. This provides a sense of closure and a place to return when you need to feel connected. We’ll explore these options in more detail in the following section.


Memorializing Your Dog: Celebrating Your Dog's Memory

Whether your dog's death is expected or not, grieving is a personal journey that differs from person to person. There is no one “right” way to grieve or a set time period that you need to fit in to process your feelings. Rather, you should be conscious of your own grief process and work through your emotions in a way that works for you so that you can move forward with clarity, peace, and a sense of closure.

Woman Holding Small dog

Grief is not a straight line from pain to healing. It can be a rollercoaster of emotions, and it's common to experience many different feelings at the same time. Throughout the stages of grief, it’s essential to take care of yourself, both mentally and physically. Exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy diet, and getting adequate sleep can help you avoid some of the physical toll grief can take on your body. Likewise, exploring ways to care for your mental health is also critical to your recovery. Family, friends, therapists, and counselors can all provide support for your well-being and strategies to deal with your feelings.

One way to gain closure and find peace is to honor the memory of your larger-than-life dog in a special way. Memorializing your pet can celebrate the bond you share and help keep their spirit alive in your heart and mind. Here are a few ways you can pay tribute to your beloved puppy:

·      Plant a memorial tree. Planting a tree in honor of your pet at their burial site can be a beautiful tribute. Every time the tree blooms, it will remind you of the life and joy your pet brought into your home. Several organizations even offer “bio urns” where your pet's cremation ashes can be mixed with soil and seed so they can eventually grow into a living memorial.

·      Create a memorial diamond. Using a small amount of cremation ashes or fur, Eterneva can create a stunning lab-grown diamond that encompasses the remarkable life of your dog. These diamonds, which can be set into whatever type of jewelry you prefer, are a uniquely personal and intimate way to keep your pet close. Their brilliance and shine represent the sparkle of joy they brought into your life, and their strength and durability serve as a symbol of the unbreakable bond between you and your animal.

Diamond Ring made from pet ashes between dog paws

·      Carve a memorial stone. There are companies that can create a custom-engraved memorial stone or marker for your garden or yard that honors your dog. These stones can include your pet's name, a heartfelt message, or even their pawprint, making it a lasting and meaningful tribute that you can visit every day to reflect.

·      Commission customized artwork. Commissioning a painting or a drawing of your pet can help keep their memory alive in a distinctly visual way. Artists can create remarkable pieces from photographs of your dog, and you can display this artwork in your home as a heartfelt reminder of your companion.

·      Create a memorial plushy. Memorial plushies are custom-made stuffed animals that are created to resemble your pet. The likeness can be a source of comfort, offering something to hold close in those moments when you miss your pet the most.

Each of these options provides a unique way to remember and celebrate the life of your beloved dog. The most important thing is to choose a memorial that resonates with you and helps you cherish the loving memories you shared with your pet.

Losing a pet is tough, and it’s okay to seek help and find ways to work through your emotions. You are not alone. With time and the right support, you will heal. And even when they're no longer physically present, your dog will always have a special place in your heart.