How To Cope When Your Pet Dies

The internet shed a collective tear recently when it was reported that Tom Hardy’s beloved dog Woody passed away, and the heartfelt letter he penned made the rounds of social media. I think the reason this story touched so many hearts was that people related to this beautiful bond and saw their own feelings about their pets reflected in Tom Hardy’s words.

Anybody that has had a close connection with an animal knows that when your pet dies, losing them is an emotional and devastating experience and people often find it very difficult to cope.

For this blog post I have invited the wonderful Vicky Nonas from By My Side Grief Counselling and Pet Loss Support to share her advice on how to cope when a pet dies.

How to cope when your pet dies

By Vicky Nonas

The impact of losing a pet can be profound and the intensity of our thoughts and feelings can often take us by surprise. Every person is unique, and so too is their experience of grief. For example, you may feel:











This is by no means an exhaustive list.

As a grief counsellor who supports people through the loss of their beloved pets – whether that loss is yet to happen (anticipatory grief) or has already happened (a while ago or just recently), I am often asked questions such as “Am I going crazy?”. It may very well feel like it, as every system in our body responds to the loss. However, the answer to that question is “No, you’re not going crazy”. It is normal to grieve. It helps us adjust to what has happened and find a “new normal” (maybe not just now, but in the future).

So, what can we do to look after ourselves during this tough time?

Some things that can help you cope as you adjust to your “new normal” include:

Exercise, even a gentle daily walk can help

Eat well

Sleep well

Don’t expect too much of yourself – you are only human

Take time out– take a bath, draw, colour-in, spend time with loved ones, sing, paint, journal

Ask for help and support from trusted friends, colleagues, your GP or a counsellor

Let your thoughts and feelings out if you can


By My Side Grief Counselling helps children and adults who need support to cope with the loss of a pet or following the diagnosis of a terminal illness. We enable you to talk about your feelings in a safe space, whether it is face-to-face or via online support and help you to cope with your loss and honour the beloved memory of your pet. For more information visit

how to cope when your pet dies

oldest dog in the world

A big, huge thank you to Vicky for contributing to this post.

As a dog foster carer I have personally struggled each time one of my foster furkids go off to their new home. Even though they haven’t passed on, it is very difficult to say goodbye and then readjust to life without them. These tips are something I will definitely keep in mind.

I would love for you to share your cherished memories of a special pet that is now running free over the rainbow bridge, so please leave me a note in the comments below.

Hugs to you all.

Rita x

rita barking botanicals dog naturopath

how to cope when your pet dies

4 Responses

  1. Yesenia C. says:

    Our best friend passed away yesterday. My husband and myself are really hurt but my 9 year old daughter is in a lot of pain. What can we do to help her cope with our loss

    • I am very sorry to hear this sad news, Yesenia. It must be a very difficult time for you and your family. I think a lot of the points made by Vicky Nonas in the post are also applicable to children, for example, keeping her busy with activities she enjoys and encouraging her to talk about her feelings. I am also aware of some wonderfully written children’s books that deal with the subject of a pet passing on, and can sometimes help children deal with the grieving process. One such book is “Dog Heaven” by Cynthia Rylant. I also encourage you to visit Vicky’s website for more info and support. She also offers an in person, online or telephone counselling service. Sending you and your family big hugs during this sad time. Rita x

  2. Dee says:

    I had to have my furbaby put to sleep on Mar 12. It was hands down the most difficult decision I’ve ever made, and it has simply broken me. Jackson (Jaxie) was my 15 year old chocolate Lab, he was given to me by a young man at our local flea market when he was 5 weeks old, he truly was a child to me. I still feel him here in this house, still listen for him to rattle his tags, still look around expecting to see him sprawled out under my feet, or watching me cook and hoping for a bite or two. I’m still crying daily, the heartache is crazy. He was sick, had numerous tumors, had lost his hearing, was losing his eyesight, bone spurs and arthritis had him in pain, and in the end he was losing control of his bowels. My baby isn’t in pain anymore, and for that I’m grateful. I feel unbelievably guilty though for having him put to sleep. Just the night before, he came to my ‘rescue’ when my two legged son was playing a little rough with me… and then I had him put to sleep the next day, I feel like I betrayed his perfect love. I try to stay busy, and get out of the house as much as possible, but when I slow down… I think, and cry.

    • Oh Dee. My heart truly breaks for you, and reading your comment has almost brought me to tears myself. You didn’t betray your beloved Jaxie, you gave him the most unselfish gift a dog guardian can give when they realise that their sweet furbaby is suffering and the time has come to gain their wings. I’m sure he is off somewhere wonderful waiting for the time when he gets to meet you once again. Fly free beautiful boy. Sending you the biggest hugs during this difficult time. Rita xxx

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