Coping With Pet Loss


Living with a much-loved ill, or elderly dog, can be very difficult for any owner. Holidays4Dogs understands this can be an emotionally draining time for dog owners. In this article, we offer advice for owners who are coping with pet loss, including signposts for further help.

Coping with the loss of a much loved pet can be traumatic, especially if they have been part of the family for many years – sometimes a decade, or more. It is completely normal to feel upset and devastated over the loss of a pet.

They are very much a part of families and connect people together in so many ways. There is nothing wrong with showing your emotion and it may be helpful to talk to friends, or relatives, who are also pet owners. Their support and understanding will be invaluable, especially in the first few hours and days.

Illness in animals can develop quite quickly and it is common for ageing animals to deteriorate rapidly. Of course, it is not just older dogs that can fall ill – it is just as hard to lose a younger companion. If there are other dogs in the household, they too, may grieve for their pal.

When the time comes.

Sometimes, it is necessary to make a rapid decision to say goodbye to your pet. Your vet will always guide you through this. You don’t need to feel alone, or feel that you might be making the wrong decision.

Many people feel doubtful, and often guilty, if they have to make the decision to have their pet put to sleep. However, over time, these feelings will become easier to cope with. Always bear in mind that you had the best interests of your pet’s welfare at heart, with the aim of ending any further distress, or pain.

Veterinary staff will understand that you are going to be upset and tearful. They will have witnessed this before and know how to be sympathetic and supportive. Indeed, many veterinary centres have specifically trained staff to support and counsel people who are going through pet bereavement.coping with pet loss

A shoulder to cry on.

Sometimes, people who have not experienced the special bond with a pet, may be less than sympathetic – simply because they do not understand. While coping with pet loss, it can sbe helpful to talk to people don’t know you personally, such as volunteer counsellor from the Blue Cross.

This is an excellent service and the counsellors are all fully trained to support people with the loss of their pets. Every counsellor completely understands what callers are going through, because they have all lost much loved pets of their own.

You can telephone for free on 0800 096 6606 – seven days a week 8.30 am to 8.30 pm. If you prefer to write your feelings down, you can e-mail and someone will reply to you within 48 hours.

There is also a web chat service. You can keep up contact for as long as you feel you need to. The Blue Cross pet bereavement service is invaluable for supporting people through an emotional and, sometimes, traumatic time in their lives.

Pet Cemeteries.

Many people are able to bury their smaller pets in the garden and this is a good way of coping with pet loss. You are allowed, by law, to do this. However, you must own and live in your own property. For example, you are not allowed to bury your dog in a friends garden, or a park. Therefore, dog and cat burial can pose a problem for those with small plots, or unsuitable landscaping. It is always worth talking to your vet ahead of time. They are likely to have contacts for pet crematoriums in your area.

If you opt for a cremation you can still keep your pet’s remains at home, or scatter them in an appropriate place. Prices will vary nationwide for individual services. Communal cremation will cost considerably less.

For cemeteries where you can actually bury your pet, you may have to travel a little further as there are only around 25 places around the UK that carry out this service. Individual burials are a more costly option starting from around £250. In addition to this, there are extras such as headstones and bespoke coffins. Prices will vary considerably from one cemetery to another.

If you would like to consider cremation, or burial, for your pet, Holidays4Dogs advises you consult the Association of Private Pet Cemeteries and Crematoria. Their members who operate services, must abide by a strict code of practise.

Elderly dogs at Holidays4Dogs.

At Holidays4Dogs we welcome senior dogs and those on certain medications. However, we are unable to accept dogs suffering from chronic deteriorating illnesses. In this case, we feel it is kinder for the dog to remain in his, or her, familiar surroundings.

In addition, we feel it is upsetting for our carers to take on the responsibility of caring for a dog that it is in a very weak state of health.

Therefore, we would recommend the dog stays at home with a house-sitter. (This is not a service we offer).

Occasionally, we do have younger dogs who suddenly fall ill. Our carers are experienced enough to spot any warning signs and take your dog to be examined by a vet straight away. However, this is a very rare occurrence.


Pets weave their way through our lives in such wonderful ways. Therefore, coping with the loss of a much loved pet can be challenging. When you are ready, you could perhaps think about creating a memorial of some kind. This could be in the form of a memory box, or scrap-book. In time, you may even think about getting another dog; not as a replacement, but as another individual who will bring you happiness, once again, in their own unique way.