Pet Loss

Pet Loss


The loss of a much loved pet is the loss
of a member of your family.

It is also a time for many decisions. There is sometimes the question of euthanasia - when is the right time? How do I take care of my pet's remains? How should I memorialize my friend? How should I talk to the children?

The anticipation of a death and the burden of grief afterwards can be numbing, but these decisions must be addressed. We will try to help with some basic information.

When is it Right to Euthanize?
Death may come with great difficulty... after a lengthy illness, often with pain and debilitation. Your pet may experience a wide array of signs - weight loss, breathing difficulty, nausea, pain, mobility problems, bleeding, and many others. Each illness is different as it progresses. A "natural death" is often cruel and painful.

Once the reality of the impending death can be accepted, we believe the decision to euthanize relieves your pet of the final suffering that accompanies many diseases. Your pet has no way to understand their illness. They just feel its effects. The decision to euthanize a pet can be one of the most heart breaking an owner has to make and we will do our best to provide you with our professional advice and guidance through this difficult time. A decision to euthanize can be your final gift of peace to your pet.

What is Euthanasia?
Euthanasia is the decision to end a life in order to relieve suffering. In our veterinary setting, we may give an initial sedative injection to allow our patient to slowly relax and to relieve any anxiety. In a few minutes, the final injection is given. This is an intravenous injection of a rapidly acting drug that quickly and painlessly stops the heart.

What Happens to My Pet's Remains?
You have several choices regarding the disposition of your pet's remains.

  • Burial at home - You may bury your pet at home. Careful attention should be given to preparing the gravesite.
  • Communal cremation - Several pets may be cremated together. You will not receive ashes back. The cremation service that we use also has a licensed pet cemetary on their grounds and will spread your pet's ashes there.
  • Cremation with return of ashes - Your pet is cremated on a tray, seperate from any other animals. After cremation, the ashes are returned to you in an appropriate container.
  • Burial at a Pet Cemetary - The closest location is Wolfe's Whispering Winds located in Chebanse, IL.

Why Am I So Sad?
Grief can be overwhelming and numbing. We all travel the same path when we have lost anything very precious. It may help to know the common emotions that most of us experience with that kind of loss:

  • Shock and denial - disbelief that the loss is real
  • Anger - directed at yourself, your friend, your family, or at the world in general.
  • Bargaining - what can I do that will bring him back?
  • Depression - sadness, loss of appetite, many tears
  • Acceptance - moving forward with the happy memories of your pet

It is normal to feel grief and it's important to allow yourself a period of mourning. Memorializing your pet can help - create a page on your web site, make a photo album, frame an especially favorite picture to hang on your wall.

If the sadness seems too difficult, consider talking to a specialist in this area. Two possibilities would be the C.A.R.E. Pet Loss Helpline at the Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine 877-394-CARE (877-394-2273) and World by the Tail at

There are many very good books to help you understand your feelings of loss. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Coping with Sorrow on the Loss of Your Pet by Moira Anderson Allen
  • Saying Good-Bye to the Pet You Love: A Complete Resource to Help You Heal by Lorri A. Greene and Jacquelyn Landis
  • Grieving the Death of a Pet by Betty J. Carmack
  • The Tenth Good Thing About Barney by Judith Viorst (for children)
  • When Your Pet Dies by Diane Pomerance (for children)
  • When a Pet Dies by Fred Rogers (for children)


There's something missing in my home,
I feel it day and night,
I know it will take time and strength
before things feel quite right.
But just for now, I need to mourn,
My heart -- it needs to mend.
Though some may say, "It's just a pet,"
I know I've lost a friend.
You've brought such laughter to my home,
and richness to my days.
A constant friend through joy or loss
with gentle, loving ways.
Companion, friend, and confidante,
A friend I won't forget.
You'll live forever in my heart,
My sweet, forever pet.

-- Susanne Taylor

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