How to cope with the loss of a pet?

3 comments Jul 24, 2022

May 3rd, 2022 was a sad day for Doggy Grub. The day we had to say goodbye to our dog Betty.

Betty was the inspiration behind Doggy Grub. As a very overweight rescue dog, we wanted to create healthy meals, at home, to help her thrive and be happy.

Fresh food completely transformed Betty in the best possible way: more energy, healthy coat, perfect blood results at every vet visit.

While a healthy diet and lifestyle kept her alive and well for a long time, at 14yrs old, she was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour.

Just like that, one day, you are faced with what you have been dreading all along - your dog’s mortality.

With only a couple of months to live, we decided to make her as comfortable as possible, managing symptoms such as seizures, and finally, we made the decision to say goodbye, at home- the hardest decision of our life.

How can we explain to her what is happening? Should we have done more? How are we going to cope without her in our lives?

These were some of the questions we kept asking ourselves, and we wanted to share the tools that have helped us then and since.

Why does it hurt so much?

Psychologists have pointed out that losing a pet is so painful because we don’t just lose an animal, we lose a source of comfort, unconditional love, and a true companion. Your relationship with your pet is unique and they have distinctive qualities that only you can know.

Pet loss needs to be taken seriously. Symptoms of acute grief can last for up to two months, with heartache continuing for years.  It can be as painful as losing a relative, with some people reporting being more heartbroken when they lost their fur companion than when they lost a parent.

Strategies to cope with the loss of a pet

  1. The first step in healing is to acknowledge and accept your grief. Losing a pet is a significant loss, and it's essential to give yourself the time and space to feel the emotions that come with it. It's okay to cry, reminisce, and share your feelings with friends and family who understand the depth of your connection with your furry companion. Allow yourself to feel all the feelings surrounding grief- sadness, heartache, guilt, anger. Your feelings are completely valid.
  2. Practice self-compassion and self-care. Be kind to yourself! You are going through a very difficult period. Now is the time for self-care activities such as meditation, journaling, yoga… I found walking was too difficult as it reminded me of all the walks we did with Betty, and I would recommend finding new areas if walking is an activity your enjoy.
  3. Seek support: Don't hesitate to lean on your support system during this difficult time. Share your feelings with friends, family, or fellow pet owners who can empathize with your grief. Joining online pet loss support groups or attending local support sessions can also offer a safe space to express your emotions and find solace in the experiences of others. Sharing memories and feelings in a compassionate and caring setting can be extremely comforting.
  4. Give yourself time to heal! The grieving process takes time so don’t try to rush it. Others might tell you that you should already be over it, but only YOU know when your heart is mended. Don’t succumb to the pressure yourself or others are putting on your grieving time.
  5. Create a memorial. Honouring your pet and the love you felt can provide a sense of closure and comfort. Consider creating a memorial with photos, a framed pawprint, a scrapbook, or even a small garden in their memory. This tangible representation can serve as a loving tribute to the joy and happiness your dog brought into your life. 
  6. Establish New Routines: Pets often become an integral part of our daily routines, and their absence can leave a void. To help cope with the loss, consider establishing new routines that acknowledge your pet's absence while creating a sense of normalcy. This could involve changing your walking route, repurposing the pet's favourite spot, or introducing a new activity to your daily schedule.
  7. Consider Professional Help: If your grief becomes overwhelming or persistent, seeking professional help is a valid and beneficial option. Pet loss grief counsellors and therapists specialize in helping individuals navigate the complex emotions associated with losing a beloved pet.

The guilt of choosing euthanasia

Choosing euthanasia for a beloved pet is arguably one of the most difficult decisions a pet owner may face. The depth of the bond we share with our fur companions often makes this decision emotionally charged, and the accompanying guilt can be overwhelming.

In our case, the insidious thing with a brain tumour is that Betty seemed to be doing fine. She was still excited to go on walks, play, and she certainly hadn’t lost her appetite! It left us feeling very guilty for even thinking about euthanasia and we felt we were letting her down as her caregivers.

In the end, as her condition worsened and with confirmation from the vet that it was only going to get worse, we went ahead with our decision of a home euthanasia.

If questions such as “What if they had more time?” or “Did we make the right decision?” come up for you, try and see euthanasia as an act of compassion and the last gift you can give your pet. Reflect on the quality of life, remind yourself of the love and care you provided throughout your pet's life. Reflect on the times of joy, playfulness, and comfort you shared.

The decision to euthanize is often driven by the desire to prevent unnecessary suffering, offering your pet a dignified and peaceful end rather than prolonging pain.

Pets are very good at hiding their pain so trust the opinion of vets if they tell you that it is time to say goodbye. Make sure you fully understand your pet's medical condition and prognosis. Veterinarians can provide valuable insights into your pet's well-being, offering a professional perspective that can help alleviate doubts and uncertainties.


Betty was a gorgeous girl. Sweet with the ones she trusted, protective with the ones she loved. She made sure birds understood that the garden was hers and other dogs didn’t get too much attention from her hoomans.

Her departure leaves a big hole in our hearts, and we will miss her dearly but we are glad her legacy can live on in every Doggy Grub meal.

Thanks to her, thousands of doggies get to eat healthy food.


If you’re struggling to go on or your grief makes it impossible for you to perform daily tasks, please seek professional help.

Griefline 1300 845 745 (free telephone support).


Some of the books that have helped us:

The Grief Recovery Handbook for Pet Loss, by Russel Friedman, Coles James, and John W.James.

When it’s time to say goodbye, preparing for the transition of your beloved pet, by Angela Garner.

Lost companions, reflections of the death of pets, by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson.

Loss, love and lessons, Healing pet loss and grief, by Lara Casanova.


Want to be the first to get your paws onto the hottest topics? Subscribe to our newsletter!


The Doggy Grub blog is dedicated to helping dogs and their owners achieve happier, healthier lives, changing the way we feed our dogs one bowl at a time! If you would like to know more about our fresh food head to Doggy Grub


  • Jane September 13, 2022 at 11:37 pm

    I’ve just lost my 14 yr old Maltese Lolli. She had a violent reaction to the first dose of med for Cushings. The pain of losing a dog can only be understood by those who adored their animals. So I’ve turned to this page for some solace.

  • Trish Korver July 28, 2022 at 5:22 am

    What an amazing article, Candice, well done! It was just so beautiful, to read and it brought back memories of our loss and your thoughtfulness during this time. Capturing your experience has really helped me understand it so much more clearly. Thank you

  • Lea July 28, 2022 at 5:22 am

    Thank you for writing this and sharing your story. It’s a beautiful testimonial to Betty and the bond and love you shared with her. Saying goodbye is always the hardest and heartbreaking decision we as their human companions can make. And you’re right, the decision is made from compassion and as a gift. They’re with us for a short part of our life but we are with them all of their life ❤️
    Thanks again (Tobi &Peanut’s hoomins)

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.