How To Understand Your Feelings When Your Dog Dies

The old saying exists for a reason: dogs really are human’s best friends. There is something so special about the relationship between us and our dogs. It’s a relationship of love and loyalty that is truly remarkable. 

From the moment we bring home our four-footed friends, these incredible companions begin to take residence in our hearts. For many individuals and families with a pet dog, these furry friends are truly a part of our families. 

With pets becoming such a big part of our lives, it makes sense that this loving relationship with our companion animals has its challenges. For instance, there are the challenges of raising a pet dog like training, socialization, and authority. However, there is also the emotional challenge of realizing that at some point in time, you will have to say goodbye. 

The Average Lifespan of Our Pets

Depending on its breed, a dog will live 8 to 13 years on average. While the death of a beloved pet is inevitable, it is also heartbreaking. Knowing that we will one day have to cope with our dog’s passing provides the opportunity for us to prepare for this difficult moment.

Part of honoring our dog’s legacy as a faithful member of our families is to treat them with dignity at the end of their life. For many individuals and families, finding ways of commemorating and memorializing our dogs is deeply healing after their passing. 

Being aware of the logistics of a pet’s passing has its benefits as well. Answering questions preemptively, such as choosing between burial or cremation, can help give us space to process their passing when the moment comes. 

Dealing with the thought of ‘my dog died’ will not be easy, but here are some pointers on how we can understand our feelings at that time. 

Why Do People Get So Attached to Dogs?

First, it can be helpful to understand why we feel so deeply when a dog dies

Pets provide a much-needed emotional release for millions of us around the globe. They have unique virtues that help us feel important and loved. Understanding the ways our dogs improve our lives can help us understand the intensity of feelings pet owners might experience. 

Our Dogs Need Us

The care we provide our beloved dogs ties us to them eternally. Whether you adopt a brand new pup or an old faithful companion, our canineK9 counterparts are dependent on us. Somehow, this added responsibility as caregivers makes our days even better.

When we get home from work, and they are wagging their tail at the door, it doesn’t add a burden to your day to get their food out, make sure they have water, and wrap them in their favorite blankets. Instead, these rituals and daily routines brighten our day because it feels good to share our love. 

Caring for animals can help humans feel stable, loved, and motivated. Dogs reward this care with a loyalty that is rarely found in other animals. The time we spend caring for our pets is special time that bonds us forever.

Dogs Provide Emotional Stability

Dogs are a great source of emotional stability. The level of commitment that a dog represents can vary depending on age and breed. 

For instance, a German Shepherd puppy is going to require a lot more energy out of a pet parent than an older Pug. One will require possibly an hour or more exercise and attention each day to stay healthy, while the other can easily binge watch Hallmark with us for two days straight without worry. 

The common denominator with dogs is that they are a stable source of emotional support and acceptance. Not only can we always rely on our pups to receive the unconditional love we have for them, but we can always count on our dogs to give love in return. 

How Can I Process the Loss of a Beloved Pet?

These are just two reasons why it’s so easy to get attached to a pet dog. While there may be many more, we rely on this healthy source of responsibility and emotional stability. We can feel lost when that stability is suddenly gone, and we don’t need permission to feel upset.

Here are some ways to help you understand the process of letting go of your pet dog. 

Reach Out for Help

Unlike when a family member passes away, we mark the death of our beloved pets differently than other members of our family. If an uncle, a mother, brother, or even close friend were to die, you would have the companionship of a community as death is a social event. Funerals, wakes, and graveside services provide solidarity and comfort from outside the immediate loss and can be very healing. 

When a pet dies, we still need this support from our community. One of the biggest mistakes we make when a pet passes away is trying to avoid our emotions like guilt, sadness, or depression. Instead, we should reach out for help during this time and get the emotional support that we need. 

This can look like asking a friend to come over so you can process the loss together or even having a small funeral service for your pet. 

Give Yourself Time To Process

One of the biggest mistakes we can make when a dog dies is not giving ourselves the time and space to process their death. We live in a fast-paced world with little time for mourning. Schedules fill up and weeks get packed with our educationeducations, our families, our work, and our self-care. There’s never a convenient time to lose a beloved pet. What’s more, it can be harder to make sure we have the time to process this kind of grief

Talk to your boss or teachers about your loss and see if there is any way your work can help facilitate some time for the grieving process. If that isn’t an option, prioritize this space in your free time to really work through the passing of your faithful companion. You can do this by seeking out a grief counselor or hotline, volunteering at a local animal shelter, going to a local pet loss support group, writing a poem, or planning a memorial service.

It may seem easier to focus on other things, but dogs take up a very real place in the hearts of their owners. Making sure we properly process the loss of our best buddy is important for our emotional health. 


While logistical concerns like cremation are important following a pet’s death, we can’t forget to focus on our feelings after losing a remarkable canine companion. 

This heartbreak following the loss of a pet can stay with us and impact us deeply for years to come, and it can be difficult to celebrate this extraordinary bond while coming to terms with our loss.

For many people, processing the death of a pet and finding closure can be a challenge, even if their passing marked an end of suffering or illness. These loveable members of the family leave a paw print on our hearts forever. Finding ways to honor your remarkable pet’s memory and legacy may help you along your healing journey.


Coping with Losing a Pet | Help Guide

Activities for Grieving | American Humane

7 Self-Care Essentials While Grieving the Death of a Pet | Psychology Today 


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