How does it feel to lose a dog?

Feeling sad, shocked, or lonely is a normal reaction to the loss of a beloved pet. Exhibiting these feelings doesn’t mean you are weak or your feelings are somehow misplaced. It just means that you’re mourning the loss of an animal you loved, so you shouldn’t feel ashamed.

Losing a beloved pet is an experience that is difficult for many pet owners to understand. It can be a heartbreaking process that goes beyond the sadness of losing a family member or friend. Having a dog in our lives is a special bond that brings us joy and happiness, so when that is taken away, it can be emotionally devastating. The feelings of grief and loss can be very real and intense.
For many people, it can be difficult to process their emotions and come to terms with the fact that their pup is gone. The drastic void in their life can be overwhelming and the pain that comes along with it can sometimes be unbearable. Even though it may feel like the end of the world, there is help available. There are resources out there that can help pet owners learn how to cope with the loss of a pet and eventually live with the emptiness.
In this blog post, we will be discussing the emotions that come with losing a pet, the grief

What Are the Stages of Grief?

The stages of grief when losing a dog are based on how Elisabeth Kübler-Ross described the reaction to loss in her 1969 book On Death and Dying. At the University of Chicago medical school, Kübler-Ross conducted research on death and those who experience it after being inspired by her work with terminally ill patients. Her project included a number of seminars, and it eventually evolved into the foundation for her best-selling book along with her research and interviews. According to popular psychology, the five stages of grief are:

And why the stages of grief are just as valid when your loss is an animal.

How does it feel to lose a dog?

A pet owner’s worst fear is losing a beloved companion. Most people who have gone through this loss have a touching story to tell about losing a beloved dog or cat. We understand the severe pain and emptiness that follow this loss, as one pet owner to another. There is no right or wrong way to grieve and go through this process because each person’s relationship with a pet is unique.

A dog or cat might stand in for a child, sibling, best friend, or lifelong companion. The average lifespan of a dog or cat is 13 years, giving them ample opportunity to fully occupy and reside in your heart. They become a part of your family and daily life. Without playing fetch, taking your dog for a walk, or cuddling with your cat, your morning routine might not be complete.

Similar to losing a close family member or friend, losing a pet can be a truly traumatic experience that leaves a huge void in our hearts and lives. Humans project their thoughts, feelings, and ideas onto their cherished pets: We recognize ourselves in our pets. The saying “owners turn into their pets” may not be a literal statement, but rather a figure of speech implying that our pets are our objects of desire.

My own four-legged family members

I may be biased because I’ve owned seven dogs when I refer to them as “running loves.” It is not surprising that a dog’s death can be devastating even if it is not sudden because many people have known their dogs for longer than they have their wives or children. When one of mine, a German Shepherd named Snitzel, went missing for three heartbreaking days, I realized their sneaky Cupid effects.

When a burly gravel truck driver made sexually provocative comments to my wife, Snitzel came running, without a word, snarling and taking up a protective position at her side, and that ended his comments and presence. And there are numerous examples of dogs rescuing humans, traits also observed in combat Marines and expressed in their mantra “Semper Fidelis” (always faithful or always loyal). Not surprisingly, a 1988 study in the Journal of Mental Health Counseling found that dog owners placed their dog as close as their closest family member and the closest of all in 38 percent of cases, Joe Yonan reported in The Washington Post.

We could examine the traits that people believe their friends should possess in order to comprehend the similarities between humans and dogs. According to Laura Argintar in ADVICE, these qualities include not passing judgment, being sincere, trustworthy, accepting, forgiving, supporting, dependable, thoughtful, being a good listener, sharing humor, and loving people. Need I say more? How does this compare to the humans we know?

The magnitude of pet loss grief

A pet is genuinely a gift that has the power to transform your life and inspire enduring gratitude and joy. Having a pet teaches you to be responsible, patient, kind, disciplined, playful, and, most importantly, to love unconditionally. Even if your dog manages to eat every pair of socks you own and chews up your couch and furniture, you still find a way to share your house and your heart with your pet.

The loss of a close friend or relative can be more painful than the death of a pet. Humans frequently disagree with family members over issues like religion, money, politics, and other topics, which can lead to emotional distance. These conflicts do not exist between people and their pets because they are completely dependent on their human companions. The moment your dog looks up at you with funny ears and wide-open eyes rather than chewing your shoelaces or leaving a “surprise” on your carpet, your frustration and anger will quickly subside.

According to an article that reviewed multiple studies and was published in the journal Society & Animals in 2002, the death of a companion animal can be as devastating as the loss of a human significant other.

How does it feel to lose a dog?

Stages of grief

Don’t let those who have never owned a pet dictate how you should feel about the loss or how your feelings should be justified as you go through the grieving process. It’s common to experience grief after losing a pet. It’s a common misconception that your dog or cat will still be there to welcome you home when you arrive. If they choose to adopt another pet, a lot of people feel betrayed.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross outlined five stages of grief in her book On Death & Dying: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. People don’t always go through these stages in order; sometimes, for example, anger comes before denial or vice versa. It doesnt matter.

Denial is a normal part of the grieving process. Just make sure you don’t deny your grief. Allow yourself to communicate your emotions in any way that is healthy for you. Expressing your feelings can be truly cathartic.

It is common for pet owners to become angry at the “why” and “how” their pet died, as anger is a normal stage of grieving. Was it a terrible accident, an untreatable illness, or both?

Getting upset about what caused the pet to pass away could eventually result in bargaining. You might think to yourself, “If only I could spend three more days with Fido,” for example. It can be very stressful and unsettling to constantly wonder “what if” and “if only.”

Depression or sadness is another stage in the Kübler-Ross model and, for many, the longest stage. Some people will always hold a small amount of sadness in their hearts for their beloved pets.

The last stage is acceptance, but this does not mean that you have to stop remembering your loss. You might feel like your life is returning to normal at this point, and you might even think about getting a new pet.

Everyone grieves differently

Grief has no timeline and no boundaries. Everyone grieves differently and for dissimilar lengths of time. Your level of grief may vary depending on your age, personality, your pet’s age, personality, the circumstances surrounding your pet’s passing, and your relationship with your pet. People who live alone frequently grieve more slowly because their companion played such a significant role in their lives. The same is true for people with disabilities who lose a therapy dog or seeing-eye dog because the dog served as both a companion and an essential tool for helping them with daily tasks.

If you or a loved one recently lost a pet, make an effort to remember them by continuing to show them love. Perhaps place a picture of your pet in a frame, plant a tree in their honor, erect a memorial marker, or, if you cremate your pet, keep the ashes somewhere meaningful. The healthiest way to cope with grief may be to keep your beloved pet’s memories alive.

Contributed by Kristen Fuller, M.D.

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How does it feel to lose a dog?

Stage 2: Anger

Anger may take different forms during the grieving process. Dog owners may feel resentment toward others, God, and even themselves. They might be furious with everything, as if they could have willfully prevented death.


Why is losing a dog so painful?

Dog owners are losing more than just their beloved pet when they lose a dog, according to psychologist Julie Axelrod, which makes the loss so painful. Losing a primary companion who offers security and comfort, an unconditional source of love, or even a protégé who has been raised as a child by a mentor could mean losing these things.

Is losing a dog traumatic?

But losing that friend can be traumatic and devastating. When a pet dies, a human’s long-lasting attachment to that animal shatters. Regardless of the manner of death, a pet owner may view the passing as traumatizing, feel upset, or display symptoms of posttraumatic stress.

How do I cope with the death of my dog?

Here are a few suggestions to help you cope:
  1. Acknowledge your grief and give yourself permission to express it.
  2. Don’t be afraid to approach people who can offer a sympathetic ear.
  3. In a journal, a poem, an essay, or a short story, express your emotions.

How painful is losing a pet?

The severity of pet loss grief The loss of a pet can be as painful as the loss of a close friend or relative. Humans frequently disagree with family members over issues like religion, money, politics, and other topics, which can lead to emotional distance.