Coping With The Loss Of A Pet

Coping With The Loss Of A Pet

On behalf of everyone at the Veterinary Referral Center of Central Oregon, please accept our deepest condolences for the loss of your beloved friend. 

We understand how extremely difficult this process is, and we can’t imagine the pain and sadness you and your family are going through. We would also like to extend some additional resources to you, in case you or anyone in your family would benefit from additional support.

Some helpful tips from “10 Tips on Coping with Pet Loss”
by Moira Anderson Allen, M.Ed.:

Intense grief over the loss of a pet is normal and natural. Your bond with your pet was unique and significant to you, and your feelings are valid even if others don’t understand.

Different people experience grief in different ways. Besides sorrow and loss; some of the intense emotions you may experience include: Guilt, denial, anger, or depression. 

The most important step you can take is to be honest about your feelings. Someone you love has died, and you have a right to feel pain and grief. Only by examining and coming to terms with your feelings can you begin to work through them.

Some find it helpful to express their feelings and memories in poems, stories, or letters to the pet. Other strategies include rearranging your schedule to fill in the times you would have spent with your pet; preparing a memorial such as a photo collage; and talking to others about your loss.

Don’t hide your feelings in a misguided effort to appear strong and calm! Working through your feelings with another person is one of the best ways to put them in perspective and find ways to handle them. Find someone you can talk to about how much the pet meant to you and how much you miss him or her – someone you feel comfortable crying and grieving with.

When a pet dies, you must choose how to handle their remains. Check with your veterinarian, pet shelter, or internet for options available in your area. Consider your living situation, personal and religious values, finances, and future plans when making your decision. It’s also wise to make such plans in advance, rather than hurriedly in the midst of grief.

You are the best judge of how much information your children can handle about death and the loss of their pet.Don’t underestimate them. You may find that, by being honest with them about your pet’s loss, you may be able to address some fears and misperceptions they have about death. Discuss the issue with the entire family, and give everyone a chance to work through their grief at their own pace.

Pets observe every change in a household, and are bound to notice the absence of a companion. Pets often form strong attachments to one another, and the survivor of such a pair may seem to grieve for its companion. Cats grieve for dogs, and dogs for cats. You may need to give your surviving pets a lot of extra attention and love to help them through this period. 

One needs time to work through grief and loss before attempting to build a relationship with a new pet. A new pet should be acquired because you are ready to move forward and build a new relationship-rather than looking backward and mourning your loss. When you are ready, select an animal with whom you can build another long, loving relationship-because this is what having a pet is all about!

If you think you would benefit from talking with others about this experience, please look into the resources below:

Local Support in Central Oregon: 


  • National Pet Loss Hotline- Lap of Love Pet Loss & Bereavement Resource Line: (855) 352-LOVE (5683)
  • National 24-Hour Crisis Line- If you’re feeling overwhelmed, like life is too much, and/or have thoughts of harming yourself, please call this hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). 

Online chat support and grief counseling resources:

 *Veterinary Referral Center is not affiliated with, nor do we endorse, any of the above resources. This list is provided to clients as a courtesy for their convenience and to assist during a difficult time of loss.

Contributing in Honor of a Loved One

Inspired by some of our own valued pet-parents, the Remembrance Fund was created for parents that want to contribute a donation in memory of their beloved pet. These funds will directly benefit departments or special cases that are determined by the contributor and are in financial need.

If you are interested in learning more about our Remembrance Fund, please visit: https://vrcvet.com/donations/remembrance-fund/.


Moira Anderson Allen M.Ed. Coping with Sorrow on the Loss of Your Pet: Indianapolis, IN. Dog Ear Publishing, 2007.