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Dealing with the Loss of Your Dog

Be kind to yourself after the euthanasia. Try to plan something to do for the rest of the day with someone who understands your grief. Don't share your feelings with anyone who you think won't understand. The last thing you need is for someone to say, “It was just a dog.” The dogs we live with and love are part of our Selves, and you have a right to your feelings.

Chew on This

Losing a pet is one of the most stressful events we can experience. Be sure to take good care of yourself and your family members during the mourning period.


Not everyone understands the pain of losing a dog. Avoid anyone who may demean your grief, and be kind to yourself as you mourn your friend.

Ceremonies can help. Consider burying your dog's remains or perhaps his collar and a favorite toy for a sense of closure. When we lost our first Australian Shepherd, my husband and I buried his ashes and planted a Gentle Shepherd day lily over the spot. We hung his tags on a hook by the lily. When we moved, the lily came with us, and so did our memories. I know people—adults as well as children—who take comfort in assembling a photo album or scrapbook about their dog. Going through pictures of him as a puppy, an adolescent, and an adult can help soften grief with happy memories. Many people make a donation to a rescue group or a local humane society in honor of their dog. If your dog died of an inherited disease, you might want to make a donation to canine health research in his name. You will know what feels right to you.

Losing a pet is one of the saddest and most stressful experiences in our lives. Some people don't understand this. Don't let them embarrass you or demean your grief. You and other members of your family need to talk to someone who understands in order to begin healing. If you don't know anyone you feel you can confide in, consider calling one of the following services. They will understand what you're going through. They'll listen, and they'll offer suggestions to help you through this difficult time.

Pet Loss Grief Counseling Services


  • 530-752-4200, or toll-free 1-800-565-1526. Staffed by University of California-Davis veterinary students.


  • 352-392-4700; then dial 1 and 4080. Staffed by University of Florida veterinary students.


  • 630-603-3994. Staffed by Chicago Veterinary Medical Association veterinarians and staff. Leave voice-mail message; calls will be returned 7 P.M. to 9 P.M. (CT).
  • 217-244-2273 or toll-free 1-877-394-2273 (CARE). Staffed by University of Illinois veterinary students. Leave voicemail message; calls will be returned 7 P.M. to 9 P.M. (CT), Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays.


  • 1-888-ISU-PLSH. Hosted by the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine.

Maryland and Virginia

  • 540-231-8038. Staffed by Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine students.


  • 508-839-7966. Staffed by Tufts University veterinary students.


  • 517-432-2696. Staffed by Michigan State University veterinary students.

New York

  • 607-253-3932. Staffed by Cornell University veterinary students.


  • 614-292-1823. Staffed by The Ohio State University veterinary students.


  • 509-335-5704. Hosted by Washington State University's College of Veterinary Medicine.

More on: Pets

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting and Owning a Dog © 2003 by Sheila Webster Boneham, Ph.D. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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