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Coping When Your Dog Dies

By: Sandy Bolan - Updated: 21 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Coping When Your Dog Dies

Dogs are more than pets they are unquestionably man’s (and woman’s) best friend. So when your best friend dies, it is heartbreaking.


When someone close to us dies, we openly grieve. However, when the family dog dies, we often bottle up our emotions and don’t grieve because not everyone thinks of their dog as family members. But dog owners don’t have to, as there are numerous outlets for them to express their emotions – veterinarian, online chat groups and, of course, friends who are also pet owners. They will all understand your pain and be of great help and support through the grieving process.


When our canine companion dies and we have children, our first extinct is to sugar-coat what has really occurred. By doing this you are not doing yourself or your kids any good. Be honest and expect your children to ask a lot of questions like: how did he die; will he go to heaven; and where will he be buried?

Be cautious in how you phrase the fact that the dog has died. By saying ‘Fido was put to sleep’ may confuse the child, depending on his/her age. The child may also then become fearful of sleep believing that when you go to sleep, you die. As well, avoid saying ‘God has taken Fido’ as this may cause a spiritual conflict within the child.


The loss of a dog is especially difficult on seniors, in particular for those who live alone with the dog, as he is undoubtedly the senior’s most constant companion.

A senior may become overwhelmed by the loss of his/her canine companion. The dog’s death may also bring back memories of friends who have died, or further remind him/her of their own mortality.

Other Pets

If you have other pets in the house, especially another dog that was very close to the deceased dog, he will invariably feel the loss.

The surviving dog may express his grief by whimpering, refusing to eat/drink and/or become lethargic.

During this time, give your dog some extra TLC – it will do the both of you a world of good.

New Pet

Do not rush out and get another dog with the idea that a new dog will help ease the loss of the deceased one. Everyone, including you, your children and the other pets need time to grieve and heal before another bond can be meaningly forged with another dog.

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