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Mourning a Pet’s Death & Celebrating Their Life

  • Don’t move anything for a few days. Coming home is the hardest part of mourning – the house is empty, his dog bed is still there, and there’s no one to walk. Take the time to remove reminders at your own pace. I miss the smell and sight of him, and seeing his toys, bed, and blanket are my only tangible sensory way of remembering him.
  • Pay tribute. JP touched so many people’s lives, that just creating an online photo album helps me remember the wonderful life I shared with my friend.
  • Let your dog sniff. I only have a few regrets with JP, and one of them is not letting him sniff more on walks. We humans get so caught up in the “busy-ness” of our lives, and are often tugging on dog leashes to hurry our more mellow companions along. Next dog, sniff all you want, bud.

In case you’re not sure what to do when it comes to the topic of euthanasia — like when is it really time, or what signs of “quality of life” to look for in your pet, or what exactly happens when we euthanize, or what you can do with your pet’s body or ashes afterwards — know that I explain this all in the last chapter in both of my books, It’s a Dog’s Life … but It’s Your Carpet, and It’s a Cat’s World … You Just Live In It. The chapter is titled, “The vet and the pet.”

More importantly, find a vet who cares and can help to guide you through the toughest decision of your life.

Surviving Pet Loss
In Memory of a Remarkable Guide Dog
Senior Cat Care

Mourning Your Dog’s Death… and Celebrating His (or Her) Life originally appeared on

Read more: Behavior & Communication, Dogs, Pet Health, Pets, , , , ,

By Dr. Justine Lee, PetMD

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Nicolas, selected from petMD

petMD is a leading online resource focused solely on the health and well-being of pets. The site maintains the world's largest pet health library, written and approved by a network of trusted veterinarians. petMD was founded to inspire pet owners to provide an ever-increasing quality of life for their pets and to connect pet owners with pet experts and other animal lovers. For more information, visit


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5:35AM PDT on Aug 7, 2014

I totally agree with you! I wish more people would be able to do this in their own home. W.O.L.F Sanctuary does this with all their rescues. Not only that, they allow the pact mates to say their own goodbyes. Afterwards, they have a beautiful ceremony celebrating their life. A memorial is then placed in a special spot.

1:49PM PST on Nov 18, 2013

"With dignity"....sorry, but I'm still a mess!

1:45PM PST on Nov 18, 2013

I know this response to this post is not timely but I had to put down my wise and beautiful 16 year old dog Rebecca today... .she was one of my best other best friend is Max her was one of the hardest things to do....Max cried...and actually jumped into her grave before burial. Of course, I was a complete mess! But it is not about me. It was the best thing for Becca.....The tears are still flowing and will for awhile.....she is now in peace without pain and dignity...she had incurable cancer. Becca will always be with my soul.....and I know I will see her again. Thank you for posting and listening.

6:49PM PDT on Jul 22, 2013

jamas desaparece el recuerdo pasan los dias, los meses, años.. y ellos siguen en nuestros recuerdos todos los dias :`D , muy bueno el articulo, me hace recordar momentos dificiles ..

3:08PM PDT on Jun 8, 2013

I lost my female leopard gecko to old age on Monday this past week. While I realize that many people think that non-furry critters aren't as easy to bond with, I must disagree. You can hold a gecko in your hand and pet it. It's not like a fish that lives in a tank and you have to keep it in water all the time. I sympathize with everyone else who has lost a beloved pet.

12:19PM PDT on May 31, 2013

Our 10 yr old Papillon passed away in her sleep on 5/23/13. We had her for 9 years. She was the first pet we had and lost.

A house is not a home without a pet. We will adopt again, but each family member is unique and a new one doesn't replace a lost.

My heart goes out to any family who loses a pet.

2:43AM PDT on Apr 21, 2013

thanks for sharing :)

4:35AM PDT on Apr 16, 2013

Kathy;I am so totally sorry about what happened to your baby! What an awfull thing for you both; I hope you will find peace knowing it was not your fault

7:15PM PDT on Apr 15, 2013

Not too long ago, I found out one of my cats, a beautiful white female age 13, had terminal skin cancer. I had been unaware that white cats frequently get skin cancer because their skin lacks melanin, which blocks out some of the sun. When I first took her to the vet for a wound on her head, the vet said she might have cancer, but recommended treatment with antibiotics and a multipurpose cream. Nothing helped. I took her back and the vet pointed out that she had a mass in her neck. Within two weeks, the mass had grown to four to five times what it had been. She stopped eating, though she seemed okay, though quiet. Finally, I decided to have her put down because I could bear to see her decline and suffer.
On the last ride to the vet, I held her and she purred the whole way. I couldn't bear to put her in the carrier, which she hated. When we got to the vet, I began to cry and cry. The vet prepared her and left the room. When she came back, she proceeded, not realizing the I.V. had slipped out of the vein, so the "medicine" did not enter her vein, but her tissue. In horror, I watched as my baby began to struggle and complain. It was horrible. I am furious with the vet for having allowed something to distract her instead of attending to my cat. Needless to say, I will never go back to that vet again. All I wanted for my little girl was a peaceful, painless passing - and that's exactly what she didn't have.
I like the stress in this story of celebrating a beloved pet's life. I

3:28AM PDT on Mar 17, 2013


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