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How to Comfort Someone Who Lost a Dog

WhatToGetMy Instructional Article

  • People keep pets for different reasons; the benefits of keeping pets include both emotional and physical benefits.
  • Most people consider their pets as part of their family
  • When someone loses their pet, it is very important to be compassionate when you speak with them. This article will guide you on how to speak to someone who has lost a pet and what to do for them.

People keep pets for different reasons; some want companionship, and some just want to experience what it feels like to take care of someone other than themselves. Whatever the reason, it is no secret that people love their pets. Parents usually get pets for their children to teach them responsibility and patience, especially when it comes to caring for something that depends on them for survival.

There are benefits to having a pet, and these include but are not limited to:

Emotional benefits:

  • Having a pet has been proven to improve mood in people who suffer or are prone to depression and anxiety. This is why it is often recommended that people who have PTSD should have an emotional pet that helps soothe them when they are triggered and have PTSD episodes.
  • Having a pet increases your chance of socializing with other people because when you are out with your pet, there is a chance that a fellow pet lover will approach you to admire your pet and, in the process, talk to you about your furry friend. This is especially beneficial for people who struggle with social anxiety.

Physical benefits:

  • When you have a pet, you create routines that require you to walk them or just take them outside, therefore creating a workout routine for yourself as well in the process, and this can have a positive impact on your overall health.
  • It has been scientifically proven that having a pet decreases cholesterol and blood pressure.

As of 2019, over 85 million families in the United States of America own a pet. When asked, most people referred to their pet as a member of their family. This shows that most people are attached to their pets, and therefore it comes as no surprise that when their pets die, most people are devastated and mourn the same way they would mourn a family member or a close friend – because their pets are their family and close friends!

WHICH PETS ARE POPULAR IN THE US?

According to a study conducted in 2020, the following are the most popular pets in the United States of America; birds, dogs, reptiles, cats, horses, fish, and other small animals such as hamsters.

Popular pets in the USA 2020

Popular pets in the USA 2020 Graphs charts

Source: www.statista.com

HOW DO MOST PETS DIE?

Most pets have a short life span as compared to humans. This means that as a pet owner, you are likely to outlive your pet companion. Dogs are expected to live for 10-13 years, horses have a life expectancy of 20-30 years, and cats live up to 15 years. Fish, reptiles, and other small animals’ life expectancy depend on the kind of (sub)species you choose.

Here are some common causes of death for:

  • Dogs

Most adult dogs die from diseases such as cancer and other conditions that affect their organs and bones. On the other hand, young dogs are more likely to die from trauma or infections.

  • Cats

Most cats die from diseases such as cancer, kidney disease, and diabetes, among others.

When a pet gets sick, owners might decide to euthanize their pets when the pet is not responsive to medication, and in some cases, when the owner cannot afford to pay for the treatment of the pet anymore. Putting a pet to sleep can be one of the hardest decisions a person has to make about their pet whom they have grown so fond of and developed a bond with.

What do you say to someone who has to euthanize their pets? This article will guide you on how to console someone who lost a pet.

WHAT TO DO FOR SOMEONE WHO LOST A PET

If your friend or someone you know is going through the loss of a pet, here are some things you can do for a friend who lost a pet

  • Let them talk about their pet for as long as they need to. This might be their way of processing. They can talk about their pet’s favorite toy, their favorite memories with their pet. You may even ask questions about their pet to prompt conversation further, as long as they are willing to talk about it.
  • Let them express how much they miss their dog. Just listen to them and validate their pain.
  • Let them cry over their lost pet. You can just sit with them and comfort them as the emotions wash over them.
  • Show them compassion. It is okay if you feel sadness when your friend tells you his cat died. It is very possible and reasonable that you might have developed a bond with their pet when you visited, and feeling ad over its loss is perfectly normal.
  • If they are okay with it, show them physical affection – it can be a hug or a squeeze of the hand/shoulder, whatever they (and you) are comfortable with.
  • Affirm to them that they did everything they could have done for their pet. Most pet owners will blame themselves if they have to put down their pet or if their pet dies of illness – they may feel as though they did not do enough, and they should have done more to save their pet’s life.
  • Plan a memorial for their pet to celebrate the life they had shared together. You can include a slideshow of their pictures together. Sometimes having some sort of ritual after death can help people to accept that their pet is dead, and this may be the first step to them healing emotionally. Remember that holding the memorial or funeral does not guarantee that they will immediately get over the death of their pet.
  • If you cannot be there for them physically, it is appropriate if you send them a condolence package. You can also call or text so that you can talk to them in their grieving moment.
  • When talking about the pet, remember to use its name and not refer to it as “your dead dog/cat/hamster, etc.)
  • Offer to go with them to places that they used to go with their pets. Places like the park or a route they used to walk their pet frequently. The first trip there might be emotional for them, and it would be helpful if there is a friend there to help them through it.
  • Express sympathy over their loss: Say things like “I am sorry for your loss.”

WHAT NOT TO DO WHEN SOMEONE’S PET DIES

  • Do not bring up your pet that died when you were 6 – it is insensitive to their grief. Not to say that your pain is invalid, but theirs take precedence in this case. Do not make it about you. It will only come across as you comparing griefs and “who grieves better” which will reflect badly on your character
  • Do not try to minimize their pain even if you may not fully understand it. Remember, this is a creature that they bonded with deeply, and the loss is as painful to them as much as it would hurt if they lost a human family member.
  • Do not assume they have “gotten over it” just because it has been a couple of weeks or months after their pet died. Grieving is a steady and slow process, and you can’t hurry it up or expect the people grieving to just get over their pain and move on. Remember, everyone grieves in their own way, so let your friend, who has lost a pet, grieve and mourn their loss in their own time.
  • Do not urge them to get a new pet so soon or get them a “replacement pet” this suggests that you are invalidating the relationship that they had with their pet and think their bond can be easily replaced.
  • Do not say things like “why are you so upset over a dog” “it was just a pet,” “it wasn’t even a human,” “you are overreacting,” “don’t be dramatic about it.” You do not have autonomy over how they react to loss, don’t try to control their emotional reaction to a hurtful situation.
  • Do not ask for their pet’s toys because “they won’t be needing them anymore” It is disrespectful to the memory of their pet and insensitive to their feelings. When they are ready and if they feel like giving away their pet’s toys, then they will do it, and whether they choose you to gift these things with or not is not your decision.

COMFORTING WORDS FOR LOSS OF PET

You can say the following when someone’s dog or cat dies

  • “You gave (pets name) such a wonderful home, they loved living with you.”
  • “Keeping you and (pets name) in our thoughts. We hope your heart finds peace during this difficult time.”
  • “Sending you love and light. I wish you peace and healing.” 
  • “We understand you miss (pets name) so much. If there is anything we can help you with, please do not hesitate to call”

WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE GRIEVING OVER THE LOSS OF YOUR PET

So you have lost a pet and don’t know how to move forward? Here are some tips on how you can properly grieve and process the loss of your furry friend.

  • Stay connected with Friends: As hard as it may be to be around people when you are grieving, it is important that you do not isolate yourself from other people. Of course, with this, you will want to find people who are empathetic and don’t make you feel bad for grieving. Check out this article to see why it is beneficial to surround yourself with good friends.
  • Express every emotion you experience in relation to your grief. Do not try to bury your feelings and act as though everything is alright, and you are okay. Suppressing emotions only ends up with people exploding and misdirecting their anger. Have a healthy outlet for your emotions so that you can heal and honor your pet’s memory.
  • Find a community, either online or in real life that is going through the same as you. This community will be a safe space to share feelings, memories, and wishes. Sometimes it helps to just talk to people who understand exactly what it is you are going through. 
  • Do something in memory of your pet. You can either donate to a pet charity or plant a tree in honor of your pet. This way, you are honoring the memory of your pet and immortalizing their presence even after they go away.

Related Article: How to Remain Positive in Difficult Times

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Why is losing a pet so painful?

The loss of a pet is painful because of the bond that people form with their pets. When people lose their pets, the emotional distress they go through is the same that they would go through if they had lost a human member of the family. Even though most pet owners are aware that they will outlive their pets, the reality of it hits so much harder than the anticipation.

Why am I not crying after my pet died?

Everyone grieves differently. Do not push yourself to cry because that’s what is expected of you. Experience your emotions as they come to you – however, they come to you. You are not grieving wrong.

CONCLUSION

When someone’s pet dies, it is important that you respect the memory of the pet and allow the people you know and care about to mourn the loss of a dear friend. Try to be compassionate and empathetic in your approach on how to console someone who’s lost a pet and choose your words correctly even when you mean well, how you phrase and say certain things can be perceived negatively especially by someone who is mourning. And most importantly, remember you should never minimize their pain, even if it might seem bizarre to you.

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