Although they may be ‘just animals’, the sorrow felt when a pet dog dies can seem insurmountable. They have been your companion for so many years it probably feels like you have lost one of your family. Unfortunately there are no quick fix solutions to getting over the death but with time and patience the bereavement can become more bearable.

Around 75% of all dog owners have to make the decision to have their dog put to sleep, often after a long and traumatic illness. Because of this, pet owners often carry a burden of guilt with them for making this decision. If you acknowledge that you have no need for guilt and that the choice was fairly inevitable and allow yourself to grieve this can be a healing experience.

Some people find that holding a funeral for their dog can be a helpful experience. They may bury their dog in their garden or opt for cremation and bury or even display the ashes. If you are choosing to bury your dog, wrap them in a favourite toy, blanket or dog bed; burying them is perfectly legal but make sure that they are buried away from ponds, streams and underground cables and at least a 1.25 metres deep. If you are unsure where you will be living in a few years, a pet cemetery may be an option as these are becoming more popular in the UK. Of course, others may prefer not to deal with this aspect of bereavement at all and it is perfectly acceptable to let the vet handle these things.

If you have children then it is important to involve them in the grieving process. Often this is their first experience of death and they may feel like something they did or said was responsible for the death of the pet. Have frequent brief chats to them about the dog, encourage them (if they are young) to draw or write about the pet and allow them to join in your funeral arrangements.

Other dogs may need time to adjust and may go through the grieving process too. In this case it is a good idea to increase positive times such as play, exercise and affection and try and spend as much time as possible with them. Some people believe that natural remedies can help. In this case try homeopathic ignatia or the Bach flower remedy Gentian, Gentiana amarella or Heather, Calluna vulgaris.

The grieving process is easier if you know what to expect and although clichéd there tend to be stages which you will go through. Shock, denial, anger, guilt, and depression are all normal emotions to experience. Surround yourself with people who understand your loss and if you wish hold a memorial service for your dog just as you would hold one for any other member of the family.

Only you can know if you will want another dog after this. If you think that it is unlikely then get a friend to remove your pet’s supplies such as dog beds, bowls, toys and dog food. Of course you may wish to keep them and some people choose to get a new dog immediately to ‘fill the void’. Generally speaking it is a good idea to wait a while until you are sure that you are ready and that you will be able to treat your new dog as an individual and avoid making comparisons.

If you just need to talk to somebody who understands, the Blue Cross in the UK has a pet bereavement support service where trained volunteers will talk to you and the website offers the opportunity to place a memorial for your pet. With time the pain will become unbearable and although you will never forget your dog, you will start to once again to remember them with pleasure.

Nicolette Craig is a writer for Swell Pets, the UK’s Leading Online Pet Superstore. Visit Swell Pets  to see their range of pet supplies and dog food.

Comments are closed.


Join With Us