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Grief Dog Death

Grief Associated with the Loss of a Dog

When we lose a beloved four-legged member of the family, we can experience strong emotions and a significant amount of stress. This unfortunately happens to millions of families every year, many who have a lot of questions around their dog’s passing and the grief associated with it. Below we help provide answers to some of the more common questions.

How long does grief last after losing a dog? | Why is losing a dog so painful? | Can you get PTSD from losing a pet? | Is it normal to feel guilty after a pet dies? | Why losing a pet can be harder than losing a person? | What happens after a dog dies? | Are dogs scared when they are euthanized? | Do dogs get sad when another dog dies? | Can dogs sense their own death? | Do dogs know they are loved? | How do I get over the sadness of losing a pet? | What urn and memorial options are available for dogs?

grieving the loss of a pet

How long does grief last after losing a dog?

Acute grief symptoms after the death of a pet can last from one to three months and general symptoms of grief can continue, on average, for six months to a year This grieving period can vary significantly from person to person and can be much longer or shorter.

Why is losing a dog so painful?

Losing a dog is so painful because your not only losing a pet, your daily schedule, vacation plans, and much more revolve around your pet. After the loss of a pet, your lifestyle and routine change and can create additional stress.

Can you get PTSD from losing a pet?

You can experience significant distress after losing a pet as the loss of your furry companion can be traumatic and emotionally devastating. People develop deep and lasting connections with their pet and the loss creates a break in this connection.

Is it normal to feel guilty after a pet dies?

Yes, it is normal to feel guilty after a pet dies and it is quite common for people to feel this way. We tend to analyze the situation and try to make sense out of what has happened and, as a result, we frequently blame ourselves. Feelings of guilt should subside as you progress through the grieving process.

Why losing a pet can be harder than losing a person?

Losing a beloved four-legged family member can be made harder since it could be a person's first experience with a death close to them and since it could be one of the few times a family chooses euthanasia to end a life.

What happens after a dog dies?

After a dog dies, it is important to contact your local veterinarian, pet cemetery, or pet cremation provider in your area to make arrangements to transfer the body.  If you are unsure what type of arrangements you’re looking to make (cremation or burial and where), it is important to wrap the pet’s body in a heavy blanket or plastic and keep it refrigerated. Most veterinarians have refrigeration for this type of thing and most are willing to help store your pet during this time. To learn more about what happens after a dog dies and the important steps to take, click here.

Are dogs scared when they are euthanized?

Dog euthanasia is a humane, quick and gentle process and the dog only feels the needle then gently passes. If the dog has been in pain or suffering, you can have peace-of-mind that he or she is no longer in pain or suffering after euthanasia. It’s good to keep in mind that veterinarians and animal techs and nurses choose their profession because they love animals and want to help – listen to their advice.

Do dogs get sad when another dog dies?

Many questions still exist surrounding how much dogs know about death and the passing of another animal. However, it is observed by many families that dogs show signs of extreme depression after a furry companion dies. Similar to the human grieving process, many dogs will experience a loss of appetite, lack interest to do some of their favorite things, become sluggish or sleep much more than usual.

Can dogs sense their own death?

Yes, dogs can typically sense death, including their own. Dogs have heightened smell and other senses and are able to pick up on the sounds and smells that are associated with oncoming death.

Do dogs know they are loved?

Yes, dogs know they are loved!  Oxytocin levels increase when you stare at your dog, pet them or play with them – these actions reinforces your bonding with your dog and make you both feel good.

How do I get over the sadness of losing a pet?

People do different things to try to cope with the loss of a pet. This can include creating a photo book, volunteering at a local shelter or rescue group, exercising, or taking a trip, among many other things. It may also be tempting to immediately rush out and get another pet to try to fill the void left by your pet's passing. In most cases, it's best to mourn the pet who passed first, and wait a few months or even a year until you and your family feel in the right emotional state to open your home and heart to a new pet.

What urn and memorial options are available for dogs?

There are many dog urns and other memorials available for pets. Some of the more popular ones include:

  • Scattering Urns – many families choose to scatter their beloved dog’s ashes at one or more places that are special to them; This can include a special place in the yard, a favorite hiking trail, or family vacation spot; The Eco Scattering Urn for Pets is an affordable eco-friendly option that can be engraved with your pet’s name, dates of birth and passing, a symbol and sentiment of choice.
  • Burial Urns – an alternative to scattering a dog’s ashes is to bury them in a special place. This can be done with a simple burial urn, or a tree urn such as The Living Urn for Pets which  gives you the ability to grow a living tree memorial from a bio urn holding your beloved dog’s ashes
  • Traditional Indoor Urns – there are many metal, ceramic and wood urns that can hold your beloved dog’s ashes and be kept in a special place in the home. With a quick internet search, you can find hundreds of options at various price points.
  • Indoor Plant Urns – this is a relatively new and growing category of cremation urns for pets. One popular option is The Living Urn Indoors for Pets, which is a high quality porcelain urn that comes in either white, blue, or yellow and contains your pet’s ashes and a houseplant or bonsai tree that grows from the center of the urn. Another more decorative option is the Planter for Pets, which is made from recycled hardwoods and includes a pot on top to grow a beautiful small succulent.
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