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Grieving Over The Loss of a Pet: Coping Tips for Pet Owners

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Losing a pet is an experience filled with heartache, and in our Facebook community, stories of beloved Chihuahuas passing away have become a poignant reminder of the grief that comes with saying goodbye.

It’s a tough part of life, one that leaves us grappling with a void where our fur babies once were, taking a piece of our hearts with them.

Grieving Over The Loss of a Pet

The Process of Grief

Grieving is deeply personal, and there’s no timeline for when you might start to feel “better.” Healing doesn’t happen overnight, and it’s okay to let yourself feel the full extent of your loss.

Over time, you’ll find that the pain eases, allowing you to cherish the memories with a smile instead of tears. Yet, the sense of loss never completely fades. I still cry sometimes over the dogs I lost 40 years ago.

It’s crucial to express your feelings rather than suppressing them. Grief can manifest in unexpected moments—like breaking down at the sight of your dog’s toys or their leash. This intense sorrow is a normal part of the grieving process. Allow yourself to experience these emotions fully.

Unfortunately, not everyone understands the depth of losing a pet, often diminishing your pain with comments like, “It was only a dog.” However, your grief is valid, and sharing your feelings with those who empathize can be incredibly healing.

Our Facebook group (I Love My Chihuahua Club) and dedicated pet loss groups, such as this one on Facebook, offer spaces to connect with others who truly understand.

Grieving Chihuahua

Facing Euthanasia

The decision to euthanize is heart-wrenching, often accompanied by guilt. Yet, it’s a compassionate choice when the quality of life has declined. Staying with your pet during their final moments can provide them with comfort and reassurance, letting them know they’re not alone.

If possible, consider at-home euthanasia to make their passing peaceful and in familiar surroundings. Services like Lap of Love can help you find a veterinarian who will come to your home.

My last dog that died was a black border collie name Roxy. She had cancer that had spread throughout her body by the time they had found it. When she started showing some signs of discomfort, I knew it was time to let her go.

I had a vet come to my house to put her to sleep and it was so beautiful and peaceful. They put on some soft calming music, gave Roxy some treats, and then gave her an injection to relax her.

Roxy laid in her own bed with me beside her stroking her head. She peacefully fell asleep and then she was given the injection to stop her heart.

I decided the next time I had to have a pet euthanized that I want to do it at home again. It was the best experience possible for her and for me. She wasn’t scared at all.

What to Do After Your Pet Passes

Options for your pet’s remains include veterinarian disposal, burial at home or in a pet cemetery, or cremation. Choosing what feels right is a personal decision that honors the memory of your pet.

Understanding Pets’ Grief

Do pets grieve? Yes, they can exhibit signs of confusion or sadness after a companion passes. It’s essential to provide them (and yourself) with extra love and attention during this time, helping each other through the grieving process.

They may seem more needy or may just seem depressed and won’t want to eat or play. Cuddle and love on them as much as they will allow. If you notice their weight dropping or the grieving is going on for too long, contact your vet about it as they may need medical intervention.

Sad little boy and girl holding a dog collar, ball and puppy.

Supporting Children

Children may struggle with understanding death. Be clear and honest, avoiding euphemisms that can confuse them. Encourage expressions of grief, such as creating a memory book, which can be a therapeutic activity for them.

This is a great book to read to your children about pet loss.

When to Welcome a New Pet

Rushing into adopting another pet can hinder your grieving process. Give yourself time to heal before considering a new addition.

This waiting period allows you to grieve fully and prepare to open your heart to another pet when the time is right.

I know from personal experience that getting a new pet too soon after the loss of your previous pet is not a good idea. When I was in my 20’s I tragically lost my 2 Yorkies at the same time. I was a basket case and my parents, in trying to help me bought me a new Yorkie puppy before I had healed enough from the loss of my other 2.

I was never quite able to bond with the new dog like I had with all my other dogs and I believe it was because I got her too soon, I feel bad about it because it wasn’t fair to her.

Remembering Your Pet

Creating a memorial, like a photo collage or a garden stone, can be a comforting way to keep your pet’s memory alive. Donating to an animal shelter in their name is another beautiful way to honor their legacy.

The photo below is a cabinet my friend has that has all her memorial things from passed beloved pets. It brings her a lot of comfort.

Memorial table for dogs that have passed.

The pain of losing a pet is profound, but you’re not alone. Many of us have been through it and found ways to cope and eventually heal. If you’re navigating this difficult journey, remember that it’s okay to grieve, to remember, and to take the time you need.

  • Do pets grieve when their sibling dies? Yes, pets can grieve the loss of a companion. Watching for signs of grief and providing extra comfort is important.
  • What to say to someone who lost their dog? Simple expressions of sympathy and understanding are most meaningful. Acknowledge their loss and offer support.
  • What to do if my dog dies at home? Consider your options for handling their remains with care, whether it’s burial, cremation, or speaking with your vet about other services.
  • Why do I miss my dog so much? Dogs are family, providing unconditional love and companionship. Missing them deeply reflects the strong bond you shared.
  • How long is normal to grieve over a lost pet? Grieving is a highly individual process. There’s no “normal” timeline—take the time you need to heal.

Have you experienced the loss of a pet? How did you cope? Your stories and insights can offer comfort and guidance to those going through similar losses. Share your thoughts and memories in the comments below.

How I grieved over the loss of my dog

Pet Memorial Gifts

Should you cremate or bury your dog?

Preparing for your dog’s passing

4 ways to cope with your dog’s death

Cathy signature Chi

blond woman holding white chihuahua

Cathy Bendzunas

Pet Blogger

I have had dogs all my life. I have been a pet groomer, worked in a pet hotel, and a kennel, and have bred and showed dogs.


Friday 23rd of February 2024

thanks for doing the article on grieving for a pet, we had to put Riley down almost 3 years ago, and I still miss him greatly. about a year after Riley, our 14 1/2 year old chi, went to heaven, my husband really wanted to get a mini Aussie, I did not want any more dogs, but he has been wanting for this type of dog for years, so he got one, I can't stand this dog, I have as little as possible to do with him. I do still have little Miss Jazzy, she is a 15 year old chi, and very much the diva of the house, she doesn't care much for Patch either. Jazzy always make me laugh, ever since we got her at 8 weeks old.

Cathy Bendzunas

Sunday 25th of February 2024

I feel kind of bad for Patch. He doesn't understand why you and Jazzy don't like him. I'm glad though you still have Jazzy.


Friday 23rd of February 2024

The Day one's pet departs is a Day like none other-total devastation ! I joined a Pet Loss Forum and assisted greatly, reading and replying to others who also hve a void.That was 6 years ago and after losing Perry at 16y I framed his photos and displayed all through the house with candles at each photo and to this day I carry on with this tradition, I even have his photo when I open my phone.A member of the Family indeed. I have read where when ''that time comes around'', NOT about US anymore, ABOUT THE COMFORT AND WHAT IS BEST FOR THE PET COME THAT DAY. Each to their own as to how to grieve, we all cope in different ways. I waited a year and rescued a Deerhead Chihuahua-Nicholas, was 9y then and a Happy 14y old, totally devoted, there is never enough time on earth for them. I CHERISH EACH AND EVERY DAY, HUGS/KISSES DAILY. The CYCLE of Life....SPeciala times to Treasured Memories for us all.

Cathy Bendzunas

Sunday 25th of February 2024

That's wonderful Sherry for adopting an older guy. They are often overlooked. And for being so active on the grief forum and helping others!


Saturday 21st of October 2023

Hello! I once had a birthday for my bulldog who was turning 7. My husband was out of town and I was lonely. So I had a few family members over. We had a fun day. I am sure Boomer felt special. He was a big boy who was white. My family members brought him gifts. We had hot dogs, potato salad ( which I made), and I ordered a cake from a bakery. I bought prizes. We played pin the tail on the doggie. Enjoyed the day and will always remember it with fond memories. 2 of my family members are gone now and also Boomer. Now I have a chihuahua mix. Love him to pieces. His name is Pablo.

Cathy Bendzunas

Saturday 21st of October 2023

That sounds like a lot of fun Sue! I would love to go to a party like that.

Joan Blankenship

Saturday 21st of October 2023

My sweet Buddy passed away August 25th. He would have been 13 on Sept. 5th. It was quite unexpected even though he had CHF for over a year. I held him until he took his last breath. I miss him terribly and am so lonely without him.

Cathy Bendzunas

Saturday 21st of October 2023

I'm so sorry Joan! It's so hard to lose them.


Saturday 20th of November 2021



Saturday 20th of November 2021

I'm so sorry Jessica!