Losing a pet is an awful experience that many of us are all too familiar with. Welcoming a pet into your home breeds so much warmth and happiness, yet there usually comes a day when we have to accept that our pet cannot carry on with us. All of the love that the dog spreads in its home is truly missed and never forgotten.
If you know of a family losing a dog, then you can see how emotional the death of a pet can be. It can be difficult to understand how to be supportive when a friend loses a dog. You may wish to do something special to make them feel cared for during this tough time. In this article, we will provide you with some information regarding a dog dying, as well as sympathy gifts for pet death. Here is everything you can hope to find here:
There are many reasons why dogs come into a home and feel like family, almost as if they were a sibling or child. We create bonds with them over time, yet still, the connection can often feel instant. Dogs are creatures that feed off of nurturing relationships, and so when they are welcomed into a home, they want to give love as much as they receive it, and most times more. Dogs in our homes strengthen relationships between family members, cultivate an environment of fun and play, and offer support on a daily basis.
Dogs come into our lives and automatically love spending time with us. They want to play, they want to learn, and most of the time they honestly just want to be around you, whether that’s on a walk, watching you cook, or just lying next to your feet while you watch your show. With this unwavering desire to follow you around, a dog very quickly becomes a creature we connect to socially. They become our best friends, a companion we always want to hang out with, and they never complain about whatever you decide to do!
Dogs do not discriminate. They come into our homes and they love everyone who lives there, everyone who lives on your street, and all the guests you welcome into your home. Dogs do not care if you are young or old, rich or poor, or anything else; as long as you can rub their belly or throw a ball, they will support you through life.
What often goes overlooked when we evaluate the ways that dogs come in and enrich our lives, is how they affect us physically. Once you get a dog, taking it on walks—while it can sometimes be burdensome—eventually becomes a habit and an undeniable part of your day.
Without even realizing it, your physical activity increases and stays fairly consistent for the time that you own your dog. On average, dog owners are active for 30 minutes more than non-dog owners, and dog owners are more active on shorter, colder, and wetter days as well.
Along with the physical benefits of the simple exercise and playing that a dog requires of you, some studies demonstrate other health benefits of owning a dog. For example, it is said that owning a dog can help to lower blood pressure and can decrease cortisol levels, meaning they help to reduce stress.
Not only do dogs come into your home and offer you a loving relationship and improve your physical health, but they also affect you mentally. It may seem obvious, and as a dog owner, we’re sure you feel like the change in your overall well-being rose evidently after welcoming a dog companion into your life. According to some studies, pets can boost your mood, make you feel less lonely, and can make you feel more supported.
Somehow, we are blessed with these creatures who wait for us day after day, and whose excitement to see us never wanes. No matter what we do, or what we don’t do, our dogs stick around. They do not pass judgment on us and they do not hold us up to any expectations, other than that we will also show them even a morsel of love.
Receiving so much love from something, and not having to worry about losing it, making a mistake, or letting them down, creates an inexplicable bond between us and our dogs. You can be sure that they will always be at your door or by your side, and you are not guaranteed this by any other thing or person in your life.
Dogs are very smart creatures; they learn by being taught, but they are also observant. Have you ever noticed that when you are not feeling well or you have an injury, your dog hangs around you more than it usually would? Or maybe you have a cut and your dog won’t stop licking it? Perhaps you had a bad day and your dog cuddles with you? Without asking, your dog picks up things about you and intuitively tries to help in whatever way it can.
There is a reason that dogs are trained as police dogs, therapy dogs, service dogs, or even as companions to bring to hospitals. These animals, since they are smart and loving, want to help and want to meet our needs in all kinds of ways that help develop this unbreakable bond.
Just as amazing as it is to welcome a dog into our home, it is twice as difficult to say goodbye when that time comes. Similarly, as much love and happiness a dog brings into a family, it can leave a glaring hole when it’s gone. Whether the death of a dog allows past problems to come back to the surface, or their absence highlights new adverse effects, the death of a dog can greatly impact a family, as do most situations of intense grief and change.
Difficult situations and conversations become increasingly challenging when it comes to children. Losing a pet and children asking questions about it or trying to understand what has happened can seem impossible to navigate. Depending on their age, they will have different levels of comprehension when it comes to death. Be mindful of this and understand that they may experience emotions that are much different, and sometimes more intense or confusing than yours; this may affect your family and the way you cope with the fact that your dog has died.
A dog dying in the family is extremely devastating, and what makes this even harder on a family is the fact that, as humans, we all experience and express grief differently. For some, their sadness may manifest as anger, stress, or confusion. Others may become very depressed. And some people may push aside their sadness in an attempt to avoid dealing with it.
All of these methods can cause tension or disagreement within a household. It is important to try your best to understand that everyone deals with tragedy differently, and healing takes a lot of time, patience, and grace.
If the dog has died and their owner was an elderly person, the grief can be especially overwhelming, because the owners can become very lonely if their dog was their only other companion. In cases like these, having a dog is one of the main methods of fostering connection, or even getting the owner out of the house.
Having such a big, and sometimes sudden change, like the death of a companion dog, can sometimes greatly affect elderly people; however, any owner who loses a dog may feel a strong sense of loneliness when their dog has died.
As you learned earlier, owning a dog often comes with many physical benefits, so it makes sense that some negative effects on your health may occur when you experience pet loss. A sudden loss of the extra physical activity that your dog required from you may cause changes in your health, so remember to try to remain active and take care of yourself, even after a pet has passed. You also may feel unmotivated to partake in physical exertion while dealing with heavy emotions.
Since grief can be so taxing on our emotions, dealing with the death of a dog may impact your mental health. Losing a pet often arouses feelings of sadness, loneliness, and sometimes depression. If you or the person who has lost a pet already experiences mental health problems or mental illness, pay special attention and be aware that this loss may affect you or them on a deeper scale.
Losing a pet may also affect the other pets in the household if you have them. Animals can also process death in their own ways, and they may experience grief as well. If your pets did not get the chance to see the death of your dog, they may start acting differently when the dog is no longer around.
Be understanding of your pet, and try to continue giving them the love and attention they need, even if these things seem difficult now. Your pets also need help healing; check out this article to learn more about the impact of grief on our animals.
If it is not you who is experiencing the death of a pet, but instead your friend lost a dog or another close family member has to say goodbye to a furry companion, you may not know how to help them during this time. Everyone is different and will have varying needs and wants at a time like this, but you know your friend well and you will be able to provide them with love and support. It can sometimes feel helpless when a friend is in need or hurting, but rest assured that any care you show them can go a long way in their healing process.
The first and most significant thing you can do to help someone through losing a pet is to remind them that it is okay to mourn. It is not silly. It is not easy. It is nothing to be ashamed of. As we’ve discovered, pets quickly become an integral part of a family and their absence is widely felt. Your friend is most likely experiencing numerous difficult emotions, and having you there and allowing them to process these feelings fully should be your top priority at a time like this.
Although processing feelings is crucial, you must also encourage them to take care of themselves, even throughout a distressing period. Remind them to do the basic daily necessities and consider checking in on them every once in a while, to make sure that they are not neglecting themselves and their self-care while they grieve.
There are multiple reasons why your mourning friend may not be getting all the rest they need. First, it can be difficult to quiet our minds when there are so many painful emotions and thoughts running around in there. They may not be able to let themselves fall asleep while being in such internal turmoil. It is also possible, especially if there are children in the household, that they are not getting their sleep because their kids are trying to navigate these emotions; they may be confused and have questions; they may be frightened because the dog used to sleep with them and protect them; they may be crying and feeling ill because of it. Your friend also may be too busy trying to organize memorial events, manage a burial or cremation, and do other tasks that need to be done in a family losing a dog.
Finding the time or the emotional will to eat enough throughout the day, pack lunches for the children, plan meals, or go to the grocery store can seem impossible when tragedy strikes a family. Sometimes these things that seem routine can slip someone’s mind when they are experiencing intense pain or trying to regulate things internally. If you can be there as a friend to remind them to take care of themselves and fuel their bodies, this can go a long way.
As a friend, you know when someone you love is not able to deal with the devastating emotions that come with pet loss. Gently mention to them that it is okay and can be beneficial for them to get professional help if their grief becomes overwhelming or severely affects them and their life. Reaching out can be difficult, but if you lift that weight off of them and recommend it first, it can make accepting their feelings slightly easier.
In the case that the family that has lost a dog also has other pets, a very considerate way you could support the family is to ask to help out with these tasks. The family may not have the time, or they may be finding it difficult to provide their pets with the love and cheer as usual when they are trying to heal from a pet loss.
Taking care of their pets could look like taking their other dogs for a walk, seeing if they need a pet-sitter while they take some time out of the house, offering to have a pet playdate to get some energy out of their animals and provide them with that social connection that perhaps has been lacking. If your friend’s other pets need food, toys, or a trip to the vet, kindly offer to do these things for them.
Not only could you help out with your friend’s other pets, but you could also see if there is anything else that they need help with. If they are finding it hard to make time for their regular routine or they need more time to heal, offering your help could be a meaningful way to demonstrate that you’re there for them.
Running Errands - Sometimes the little things add up in a strenuous time, and things that usually get done get moved to the bottom of the priority list. If your friend is struggling to meet certain needs because of the demanding task of dealing with losing a dog, take some of the load off of their plate. You could go to the grocery store for them, offer to pick the kids up from school or take them to their extra-curricular activities, or manage some household chores or yard work. Doing these little things can be a huge help.
Planning Events - After a pet loss, your friend is going to have to make decisions, manage, and plan things like burial or cremation, and a memorial event if they choose to have one. These tasks can be mentally exhausting and painful while trying to deal with the grief. You could be by their side while they take these tasks on, or even offer to help out or do it for them.
Creating a Memorial - Your friend may decide to create some sort of memorial, whether it be an online page, a post about their dog dying, a gravesite memorial, or a pet area. Consider providing a hand with this as it is another emotional demand they have to deal with.
Depending on how your friend copes with the tragedy, they may require a different kind of help from you. Sometimes people need a break from grieving to get back to their regular lives, even for a moment. As their friend, this would be a great thing for you to help out with because they probably feel at ease with you and can have a good time in your company. Planning something to do with them or even just hanging out and talking about something other than that their dog has died can be very helpful in this process.
Dinner - Whether it’s ordering in, going out to eat, or making dinner for them, planning a meal together is a great way to resume friendly get-togethers. This also helps if they’ve been having a hard time eating or finding time to cook for themselves. This gives you a chance to get their mind off of things and offer them a few laughs and smiles which can be hard to come by at a time like this.
Hike or Walk - Getting outside and getting active can be very beneficial during the healing process. Movement can boost their mood and help them get out of the house and out of an environment that most likely holds many bittersweet memories for them. A short walk or taking a longer excursion to go on a hike or run may help your friend clear their mind and expel some negative emotions.
Movie - Sometimes after a tragedy like this, people do not want to talk, but they want to be with someone who they care about and who cares about them. Taking your friend to a movie could be a successful way of hanging out with them and getting them out of the house, without having to trigger any painful conversations. A movie is also just a fun outing that they will most likely appreciate!
Drive - Often, we underestimate what our presence does for a friend. You can offer to take your friend on a drive; maybe you go to their favorite spot, or maybe you listen to some fun music. Perhaps you catch up and help them sort through their emotions. You may even just get to drive in silence with them, and sometimes that’s all they need.
When someone you know loses a pet, a considerate way to show that you’re thinking of them is to get them a pet sympathy gift. There are many options available and most are customizable to best suit your friend and their lost dog companion. It can be overwhelming when you are trying to think of the best gift to get your grieving friend, so we have compiled a list of what we think are some of the most meaningful gifts for someone whose dog dies.
Getting a custom portrait done or finding a business online that will turn your friend’s favorite photo of their dog into a beautiful painting, portrait, or canvas is a wonderful gift idea. The owner can put this portrait in a special place where they can see their lost companion every day.
You could also purchase a memorial stone or some sort of marker for the pet’s grave. These gifts are very customizable. They help honor the pet’s memory, as well as decorate the grave site. If you need more help deciding on specifics for this gift, check out this article.
Something that everyone needs after a loss or tragedy is comfort. We have provided a few ideas of some gifts that we think will bring some sense of comfort into your friend’s life as they deal with the death of a companion dog.
Blanket - You could search for a blanket that has a pet that resembles your friend’s lost pet, or you could find a source that takes photos of the animal and transfers them onto a blanket. This way, your friend can cuddle up with their lost dog whenever they feel sad or need a reminder of their pet’s love.
Pillow - Similar to a blanket, a pillow can be a decorative, as well as functional gift for someone who is mourning the loss of a pet. They can be bought, ordered, or customized, and your friend will appreciate the thoughtful gesture.
A statue resembling the lost pet is a beautiful way to memorialize them. It can be placed in the pet’s favorite place in the home, somewhere their owner can see it, or even placed with the gravesite. They come in all sizes and you would be able to find a statue of the corresponding breed of your friend’s lost dog.
Jewelry is a common pet sympathy gift idea and for good reason. Investing in a beautiful and meaningful piece of jewelry is a thoughtful way to show your friend that you are there for them and that you cared for their pet.
We have a wide selection of cremation jewelry for dogs on our website for you to look through. These pieces contain either ashes from the lost pet or some other fragment to remember them by, like hair. We have a variety of pieces like necklaces, bracelets, and rings, as well as different shapes like hearts, crosses, urns, bones, pawprints, and more. Consult this page to answer any questions you have about cremation jewelry for dogs.
Photo engraved dog jewelry may be the perfect gift idea. If your friend has a favorite photo, or if they love to wear jewelry, consider buying them a piece of jewelry with a photo of their dog. On our website, you can find a variety of gorgeous styles that serve as beautiful remembrance jewelry for dogs.
If your friend has cremated their lost pet, and if they are unsure of what to do with their dog’s ashes, this is a gift idea that could allow them to keep a piece of their companion with them always. Pieces of jewelry made with dogs’ ashes are uniquely crafted and are thoughtful pet loss gifts. Take a look at our selection if this idea interests you.
Keepsakes are cute gifts that are often decorative and sentimental. These pet loss gifts and keepsakes that we have provided are available on our website; however, there are many other thoughtful and unique gifts as well.
We offer some different styles of cremation keepsakes; for example, we have rear-view mirror pendants and keychains that allow the owner to carry their pet with them everywhere.
If you feel like your friend will appreciate a visual reminder of their pet more, consider taking a look at photo engraved keepsakes. These are available in dog tags, key chains, and rear-view mirror pendants as well.
These gift ideas are perfect if your friend is more sentimental, or if you feel more meaning in creating something. They also give other people who knew the dog the opportunity to contribute something beautiful to the mourning owner.
Memory Box - Collecting memories, toys, collars, and photos into a box meant to remember the pet is a kind gesture. This gift can help owners begin the healing process and it allows them to hold all of their pet’s things together in a special way.
Photo Album - If you or the people around you and the pet’s owner have a lot of photos of the dog, think about gathering them together into a photo album. Sometimes you do not need to invest in anything expensive to show someone you care, and sometimes these gifts mean more than anything else could.
This gift could be special to any owners losing a pet and children specifically may find value in this gift. You could order a custom shirt, sweater, socks, or other articles that you know they would like. These are cute and personalized pet loss gifts that can memorialize the pet and that the owner can keep forever.
A piece of outdoor decor for your friend’s lawn, porch, or house would be a special gift as well. Their dog most likely spent a lot of time outside and having something to remember them by out there could honor their memory.
Windchime - A windchime is a beautiful gift idea. At each sound of the music, your friend can reflect on the love and memories they cherish from their past pet.
Homemade Sign - Getting a custom sign made that references their past pet or remembers the dog’s life would be a wonderful addition to your friend’s house or yard. The pet will forever be a part of their owner’s home.
Light - If your friend has a gravesite for their dog, or even if there is an area in their yard that was special to the dog, you could buy them a pretty lawn light to mark the spot. You could get paw print lights, a solar light, or some design that you know they would appreciate.
Plant Pot - Buying a beautiful plant pot for your friend’s yard or the dog’s site is a great way to show that you care. You could also paint a pot, or have it painted professionally to honor the lost pet. If a child has lost a dog, you could make this a special activity to do together as well.
If you or someone you know has lost a pet, and you want to get them a gift, perhaps something like the pet loss sympathy gift ideas we’ve listed here, there are many places you could look. Since losing a pet is such a universal experience, these kinds of items are available at a variety of sources, whether you decide upon a generic gift or a personalized pet loss gift.
We live in a world where you can find anything online. Many of the pet sympathy gifts that we provided in our list are offered in a shop online or even on a larger website. Even things that are available in stores can most likely be ordered and delivered. This option is especially convenient if you are busy helping out your friend in other ways, or if the gift that speaks to you the most is custom-made and needs to be ordered.
Similar to online shops, many jewelry stores will do custom jewelry for you or your friend whose dog has died. However, even if you do not want anything custom and simply want a beautiful piece of pet loss jewelry, most jewelry shops have pieces for you to choose from.
It is also nice to support local shops or individuals that have talents and skills they are willing to share. If you are thinking about getting your friend a personalized pet loss gift, consider exploring your area for people who make custom or general pet loss gifts. Often these businesses are amazing to work with and will go above and beyond to ensure that you get exactly what you are looking for and what you think your friend will love best. Especially in such a connected world, it is not too difficult to seek out artists online who are more than happy to help.
In the lucky case that you have a family member or an artistic friend who enjoys crafting, consider employing their help in creating a heartfelt gift for your friend. Maybe you have a friend who makes signs, a neighbor who likes to sculpt, or even a member of the family who has a talent for painting. These kinds of pet loss gifts can be even more meaningful coming from someone who most likely knew and loved the dog as well.
If you have tried your best to find something for your friend and nothing is speaking to you, or if you simply want to ask for help right off the bat, call your local vet. Vets are around animals and have to deal with pets dying all the time; they may have some businesses they like to recommend, or at least some helpful information to get you looking in the right places.
Grief varies from person to person, so it is not accurate to label everybody’s process as the same. That being said, there are typically five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The stages themselves also look quite different depending on who is experiencing them. If you want to learn more about grief, this article on our website is a great place to start.
Perhaps your friend or family has not yet experienced the death of a pet, but you know the time is coming or you simply want to be able to handle the difficult situation as well as you possibly can. Being equipped to help them make end-of-life decisions, as well as being able to help them grieve are great ways you can be ready for this day. Preparing for the loss of a pet can seem daunting, but we try our best to make it feel more achievable.
You want to get a meaningful gift, something the family can cherish forever, or maybe something they can use; these and many other thoughts may go through your head when trying to choose the best gift for someone who has lost a pet. At the end of the day, the best gift will be one that comes from the heart and one that honors the pet’s memory. Feel confident that no matter what you give them, they will love and appreciate the kind gesture.
Talking to children about pet loss can sometimes be one of the toughest parts of the experience. Depending on their age and scope of knowledge about death, you’re approach to this will have to vary; however, no matter how old they are, you must be honest, sensitive, and patient when discussing pet loss with a child. Ensure you are providing the appropriate amount of information—not disclosing too much which could traumatize young ones, and not leaving the older children with more questions than answers.
Finding the appropriate time to give someone a pet loss gift can be difficult; you do not want to bombard them when they are in the midst of dealing with a tragedy, yet you also do not want to wait too long at the risk of resurfacing emotions they are healing through. Give your friend some time, maybe a few days or a week, to process their feelings. At this point, they will most likely receive your gift with open arms and a huge thank-you.
A dog’s lifespan takes into account many different factors: breed, size, health, illness, lifestyle, and so on. It is hard to make a sweeping statement because there is such a variety among domestic dogs. Typically, though, dogs live between ten and thirteen years old.
There is nothing easy about losing a pet, and it is not any easier to watch a friend suffer after a pet loss either. We always want to do what’s best for the people we love, and to see them hurting over something we can’t control is difficult; one thing we can do is show we care and demonstrate that their pet was loved and will be remembered.
Gifting your friend a pet loss memorial gift is a wonderful way to help them heal and to provide support during this tragic time. Take some time to reflect on your friend and their pet, and gift them something that will properly honor their dog’s memory.
June 13, 2023 by Frances Kay
Lovejoy, Jamie. “How Long Do Dogs Live?” PetMD, 3 January 2023, https://www.petmd.com/dog/care/how-long-do-dogs-live.
“The Power of Pets: Health Benefits of Human-Animal Interactions.” News in Health, February 2012, https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2018/02/power pets#:~:text=The%20unconditional%20love%20of%20a,their%20emotional%20and%2 social%20skills.
Zorthian, Julia. “More Evidence That Owning a Dog is Really Good for You.” Time, https://time.com/collection/guide-to-happiness/4870796/dog-owners-benefits/.