Our dogs are part of the family, so when we lose them it can be a rollercoaster of emotions and feel tricky to navigate. Even though you might feel overwhelmed right now, you’re not alone.
Firstly, it’s important to know that how you grieve is totally up to you. For some this is very personal and private, and for others it feels better to talk about your dog and celebrate their lives openly. What you’re going through is completely normal and there’s no right or wrong way to experience it.
How to say goodbye
If you have to make the tough decision to say goodbye, think about where you want this to happen. Speak to your vet – they’re there to help you through this – and together you can make the right choice for you and your dog.
You can decide to go to your vets if your dog is okay to be in the car (and you can safely get them there).
Or if you prefer, ask your vet to come to your house. This might be more comfortable for you and your dog and give you space to say goodbye. Making plans for your dog’s resting place can also help, so you know they’re going to be somewhere safe.
Coping with sudden loss
You might not know your dog is ill, or their death has come as a sudden shock. Emotionally this can hit us pretty hard, so speaking to your vet can help you make sense of what’s happened and help you come to terms with it.
Just like losing any family member, losing your dog is difficult. You might feel lonely or depressed – this is all normal. If you have a support network around you, try talking to them about your dog.
- Look through pictures to remember good memories
- Volunteer at a local shelter or rescue
- Donate any items you don’t want to help others
- Plant their ashes under a favourite tree so you can remember them every year
- Get some fresh air, go for a walk or exercise with a friend.
Professional help is available
Sometimes, speaking to family or friends is too much and you can feel like they don’t understand, or you’re interrupting their busy lives to talk about death. Sometimes it’s just good to speak to a professional – we found these people who are specially trained to help:
The Blue Cross is a rescue charity dedicated to helping animals and their owners. They offer a specialist bereavement helpline:
Phone: 0800 096 6606
Animal Samaritans focus on the wellbeing of animals across the UK – and that includes making sure their owners are supported even after they’ve gone. Their dedicated support line is there to help if you want to talk about the loss of your dog.
Phone: 0203 745 9859
The Association of Private Pet Cemeteries and Crematoria are dedicated to giving beloved pets the send-off they deserve. They can support you with every aspect – from deciding on burials or cremation, to arranging a memorial service.
If you’re reading this because you’ve recently lost your dog or you know it’s time to say goodbye, there’s no magic cure to make it feel better, so we hope this blog offers useful advice. As dog lovers and dog owners we know how hard it is when they go, and these tips have all helped different members of the team in different ways.
One of us has his beloved greyhound’s ashes in a special urn in the kitchen (that he talks to!), another bought a locket necklace and popped a picture so her dog could be next to her heart. If you want to share any useful tips in the comments on how you’re coping, we’d love to hear from you.