What to Expect When Grieving the Loss of a Pet

Dog grieving in Sacramento, CA.

Losing a pet is a significant, intense moment of grief and sorrow. Although it might feel like your grief is unusual, mourning the loss of your loved one is a perfectly healthy and normal feeling to have. This is going to be a difficult time and each person’s journey might vary. 

Things Will Not Be the Same

When you’re ready, there will be a time when you have to acknowledge that your life will not be the same without your pet. The relationship you had took time to build and it will take time for it to be honored in memory.

  • Sounds in your house may not be the same
  • Things like dropping food will not be the same
  • The new silence will say a lot about how much life your pet brought into your home. 
  • Your routine might differ. You won’t need to make time for walks or feeding. Take that time for yourself and when you’re ready, give that time back to yourself.

Expecting and accepting these changes on your time and in your own way will be part of grieving.

Allow Yourself to Grieve Your Pet

You shared a bond with your pet that is special and no one will know the extent but you. Others, especially those who are not into pets, might be well-meaning, but may not understand. This is your journey into grief and you should feel empowered to take your time and heal in a way that makes sense for you.

Allowing yourself to mourn is a kindness you will need to show yourself. It will take time to get used to what life looks like now. 

Lean into the Loss

Part of allowing yourself to mourn is being in the moment and living with the feeling of grief. Acknowledge it. Be there. Work through it. Honor your relationship with your pet through memories. Take small steps like writing your pet a letter or going on your favorite walk. Your grief is real and if you need to seek help from a professional, that is completely appropriate and okay. Talk to your vet for help or some local resources. 


You may find yourself discussing and questioning your beliefs about the possibility of pets and an after-life. The range of opinions may vary and you will likely hear many. It’s most important for you to take the time and find answers that are right for you, your values, and your beliefs.

Receiving Support

You may have friends or loved ones reaching out to support you. Being around others who have experienced pet loss could be therapeutic and might be just what you need. If not, gently let them know that you need some time on your own. However you need to handle your grief is okay.


After having a pet for so long, it is normal to have part of your identity be attached to being a pet owner. This adjustment will take some time as well and be part of your mourning. Don’t be hard on yourself if you suddenly need to reevaluate what makes you feel like you.
If you are reading this, you or a loved one are likely in the middle of potentially losing a pet. Our veterinary team at East Sacramento Veterinary Center is here to support you through this difficult time.