When You lose Your Best Friend – Our Canine Grief Guide

Dogs / Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

Dogs are like part of the family, and they become such a huge part of our lives, that when they leave us, it can be devastating. Losing your beloved dog is like losing a member of your family, and understandably, it can take some time to deal with.

Society doesn’t always appreciate the loss of a dog, and although some of your friends may not understand, you shouldn’t let them tell you how to grieve. For some people, losing a dog is just as painful as losing a human, because their dog is such a huge part of their life.

It’s OK to struggle with the passing of your dog, lots of other people are in exactly the same boat. However, you don’t have to suffer alone, there’s lots of help available for pet owners who have experienced a great loss.

We know how hard it is to cope when you have to say goodbye to your pooch, and that’s why we have put together this handy canine grief guide. Find out how to manage your grief, and find coping strategies when your four legged friend goes over the rainbow bridge.

Why is losing a dog so hard?

There are lots of reasons why dog owners find losing their pooch so hard. Dogs are often tied into our daily routines, so when they are not around we feel a bit lost. They also give us unconditional love, and ask nothing from us, which creates a very special mark on our lives.

Often dog owners feel like ‘puppy parents’, and to them, their dog is like a child, which makes the loss even more painful. Most of all, it’s so tough because we miss our companion and our best friend. It’s one of the hardest things about owning a dog, knowing that someday you will have to say goodbye, but it’s important to live in the moment like dogs do, and treasure your time with Fido. All you can do is give them the best life possible, and create lots of amazing and wonderful memories together.

Grief has no time limit

Canine grief is the same as human grief, in that it doesn’t have a time limit. There is no set time period in which you are expected to get over your grief by. Don’t be too hard on yourself, and allow yourself time to grieve, no matter how long it takes.

Some extra special dogs stay with us all our lives, because they made such a huge impact on us. It can be frustrating when others don’t understand how awful and upset you feel after losing your dog, but it’s important to ignore how others react, and focus on yourself. Be kind to yourself and give yourself the time you need to process your grief.

Reach out to others

You don’t have to be alone in your grief, there are lots of ways to reach out to people. You can get support from your family and friends, or you can get in touch with other people in the same situation.

If you don’t feel like talking in person, you can message people online on special dedicated grief forums. It’s a brilliant way to talk to people who are feeling exactly the same way you are, and get tips and advice on how to cope. Sometimes when grief hits you hard you just need someone to talk to who is in the same boat.

If you are really struggling with the loss of your dog, and started to get symptoms of depression, you make want to speak to a counsellor. It can sometimes help you to process and understand your grief better.

Do something special to commemorate your dog

Doing something special for your pooch can really help you to process your grief as well as commemorating your dog. Spend some time making a photo collage of memories, create a special place in your home to commemorate your dog or get something engraved with their name such as a necklace or bracelet. It might make you a little sad initially, but getting creative and making something in Fido’s memory is a wonderful way to pay tribute to them.

Getting another pet following a loss

A lot of people really miss having a dog around the house, and feel completely lost without canine company. Whilst it can be helpful to get another dog, you might need some time to process your grief first.

However, you shouldn’t feel guilty about getting another dog and starting a new chapter in your life if the timing is right. If you get a new dog that doesn’t mean that you don’t still miss your old friend or treasure their presence in your life. Only you will know when you are ready to welcome a new dog with open arms, don’t let others influence your decision.

If you aren’t ready to take on the responsibility and emotional demands of another dog, consider borrowing a friend’s dog or volunteering at a local shelter. This will help you to stay in a routine and keep spending time with dogs, which can be very therapeutic, especially if you are helping rescue dogs.

Donating all your dog’s bedding, toys and accessories to your local shelter can also be a lovely thing to do, however hard it may be to let some of their things go. At least you know other dogs will be benefitting.

Let go of your guilt

Many people experience feelings of guilt after losing their dog. This can be for many different reasons. It can often be linked to having to make the decision to put your dog down, which can be heart-wrenching, and extremely difficult. Try and let go of any feelings of guilt and trust that you did the best thing for your dog.

6 Replies to “When You lose Your Best Friend – Our Canine Grief Guide”

  1. Why say ‘ Put your dog down’. Sounds horrible. Best to say ‘Put to sleep. My dog my be leaving me in a week or so. He will be 15 years old at the end of April, but I don’t think he will last that long. He goes back to the vet a week today.

    1. what a very difficult time you are going through.. I know when the time comes you will make the right decision. Each of us through out our lives are faced with losing something or someone that is more precious to us than words can say… First and foremost never feel guilty.. you have given your pet the best time of his life.. hold onto his memory, cherish it in your heart and you will find he will be with you for the rest of your life.

  2. We had to say goodbye to our darling golden retriever Phoebe at the age of 15 years and 8 months last May, we still miss her terribly but feel that perhaps and only perhaps we are now too elderly to take on another dog. Two very kind friends gave us a beautiful cushion with a picture on one side of it taken from an actual photo which is a great comfort. Only time will tell if we go for another dog but last time we took 25 years to decide and time is not on our side!

  3. My Kerry Blue terrier died in my arms at the vet at the beginning of December 2016. He was 14+ It broke my heart. I adopted a Griffon Blue from Spain two weeks later and only had him for 3 days before we discovered he had stomach cancer. Another heart break! December was the worst month of my 64 years. I didn’t think I would ever get over it and I felt that I never wanted another dog as I couldn’t go through that again! Astonishingly two weeks later a Golden Doodle, down on his luck, needed a new home and I had one to offer. I miss my Kerry every day and feel so sad that the Griffon never got the chance to enjoy what should have been his forever home but my grief has become bearable by the arrival of my lovely Golden Doodle. He won’t replace my other lads but he brings me so much joy and eases the pain. I would recommend anyone in this situation to adopt another dog as soon as you can. You will be helping him, and he will help you more than you could ever image.

  4. It is a terrible time losing your dog. I have had 11 dogs over the last 54 years all special in their own way. I lost my Standard Poodle Blu to cancer 2015 he was not quite 10 years old and I still have not got over the loss he was a really special boy. I still have a poodle Cassie 9years old I love her dearly but Blu was just a special boy.

  5. As I read Mr Pearson’s comment, tears immediately flowed down my cheeks having been through the trauma and pain of taking decisions to put my own dogs to sleep when their time had come. Their loss to me was unbearable for a considerable time after their passing. The last time this happened my dog had lived with cancer for 2 years after only been given 2 months to live so I had her for 22 months longer than I’d expected. During that time my daughter had urged me to get another pup immediately she died and so 3 days after she passed I looked for another pup and got one from a Kennel Club Assured breeder that evening. It proved the best way possible to deal with the dreadful grief I was suffering. I still missed my old dog terribly and was still grieving but having to deal with an extremely lively pup made me also think about the here and now and the energy of a young life. I still have my old dog’s photo on the front of my phone and touch the side of her face every time I use it but the knife-edge pain was most definitely eased by my new pup when I needed help out of my grief.

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