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Coping With Grief from the Loss of a Pet

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Everybody and everything dies. We all know this and it doesn’t make losing a pet any less painful. As a practicing veterinarian, I experience loss and grief weekly. It’s the part of my job that doesn’t get easier.

Our society doesn’t honor and acknowledge grief in a way that is helpful for those grieving. My mother died my first year in veterinary school. I was devastated and there was no place for my grief. I knew that life moved on, but I didn’t know how.

We all experience death and loss in our lives. It is universal.

I find when I can honor the love I have felt and still feel for the people and animals I have lost, I can move forward. Grief is just the love we still feel.

This is how I express the love I feel for the pets and patients I have lost.


Painting or drawing can be very therapeutic. Sometimes I paint an object that reminds me of the animal. I have even painted the colors of my grief. I have made quilts where every stitch was a meditation of love.


My veterinary class lost two classmates in a short time. At each of their memorials, I made a promise to them that I would help as many animals as I could in their honor. I do the same for the patients I lose as well. I funnel my grief into being of service to as many animals as possible. I would like to think that is what our deceased pets would want us to do.


I often light candles for a set amount of time after a particularly difficult loss. I say a prayer, let myself cry and honor the transition.


Talking about those we miss can be soothing. My veterinary nurse and I will talk about our grief openly whenever it arises. Whether it’s the grief of losing our mothers or our patients we know it’s a safe place to share.

Please remember that you are never alone in your grief. I would love to hear how you honor the loss of your pets. You can comment below or find us on Facebook or Instagram.

Sending a big hug,

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5 thoughts on “Coping With Grief from the Loss of a Pet”

  1. Dr. Angie and Claire, thanks for your article on grief. Too many people don’t allow themselves to grieve after the death of a pet thinking others won’t understand.
    We had to have our beloved Yoda put down a week ago due to Cushing’s and serious heart problems. He finally quit eating which was his way of letting us know he was ready. He was only 10 and we still cry when we talk about him or see one of the zillion pictures of him.

  2. I almost immediately adopt another cat. Sometimes it takes a few weeks to find the right fit and sometimes it only takes a few days. No the new cat does not replace a loved pet but it always makes me feel better. There are so many cats that need a furrever home.

  3. I lost my Boston boy Stan only three short weeks ago. He was 14 1/2, no eyes, deaf, diabetic and also suffered from Pancreatitis. We had a great run, we did a lot of amazing things together. He loved to play ball so I got him into Flyball, which was great fun but competitions were out as he wanted all the balls! lol He was my heart dog, my first Boston. I miss him every day. I miss his cousin Bea, she has been gone nearly two years and I can feel her presence here which is comforting. I have had dogs and cats all my life and will never stop. Going through the pain is worth every tear. Thanks for your articles Dr Angie, I also had Stan on CBD and was working lovely for his arthritis. I must get more. It helps me as well.

    1. Dr. Angie Krause, DVM

      Hi Sue,

      I am so sorry to hear about Stan’s passing. You are right, loving a dog is worth the heartache. I am sending you a big hug and so much love.

      Dr. Angie

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