Pet Loss Support for Grieving the Death of a Dog

Many people who have lost a beloved animal companion find comfort in a pet loss support group or grief counseling system. Time is the best healer, but for some, time alone does not ease the pain of losing a pet. A pet's illness, accident or natural death can cause powerful and lasting emotions. It's common to feel extremely sad, angry, frightened and even guilty. These feelings are normal and can be addressed in a support group or individual therapy.


For those facing the decision to euthanize, or preparing for the death of an elderly pet, pet loss support can help you be well informed of all humane options and help you through this difficult time. There are many pet loss support groups around the country. Certified pet loss therapists, local humane societies and several national animal welfare organizations offer various kinds of support services.


Pet Loss Support Groups

Group therapy in the form of weekly or monthly meetings may aid in the grieving process. Knowing that you are not alone and being part of a group gives you the opportunity to learn how to cope and continue with daily activities. In addition to help with grief, a pet loss support group can help with the decision to euthanize and offer advice for those facing the inevitable death of a pet. Many people torn between the decision to euthanize or suffer a great financial burden may find pet loss support sessions helpful. 

One-on-One Support

Individual therapy can help ease the grief and will sometimes provide insight about how this particular grief may be connected to other losses in life. It may be difficult to imagine life without a cherished pet, and discussing this with a therapist may help individuals move forward. There are many organizations that offer grief counseling by phone if you're unable to attend a support group or see a counselor in person. 

Utilizing Friends and Family

Don't forget about resources you already have. Talk with friends and family and be honest about your feelings. Allow for tears and try to understand that the sadness you may feel is a normal response to the loss of a loved one.

Recognizing Distress

Focus on maintaining good health habits, such as eating and sleeping well. Don't give up on daily exercise such as walks or jogging, even if you would normally take your pet with you. It's important to recognize when the grief has dramatically altered your life or the life of someone you know. If daily tasks have become difficult and usually pleasurable activities are no longer pleasing, help may be necessary. 

Some signs that you or someone you know may need help include:


  • Loss of interest in normally pleasurable activities
  • Depressed, unpredictable or irritable mood
  • Outbursts or excessive crying
  • Unusual weight gain or loss
  • Problems sleeping
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of excessive guilt
  • Inability to focus

If you are having thoughts of death or suicide, you should immediately call emergency services or go to the nearest emergency room.