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What do you say when a dog dies?

Losing a beloved pet is one of the most difficult experiences a pet owner will face. When a dog dies, owners are faced with the painful decision of what to say and how to say it when communicating the loss to others. This article will provide suggestions for thoughtful, compassionate ways to share the news and pay tribute to your cherished canine companion.

How to Tell Friends and Family

Telling friends and family that your dog has died can be extremely difficult. Here are some tips for breaking the news gently and clearly:

  • Be direct – Start the conversation directly by saying “I have some very sad news to share. Our dog [name] passed away [timeframe].” This removes any doubt or confusion.
  • Share some memories – After announcing the loss, share one or two of your favorite memories or quirky habits of your dog. This helps others understand why your dog was so special.
  • Explain how it happened – Provide basic details about how your dog died, whether it was expected due to age/illness or sudden. This helps explain the situation.
  • Express your grief – It’s ok to shed some tears or share that you’re devastated. This shows how deeply the loss affects you.
  • Ask for support – Tell friends and family directly what would help during this difficult time, whether it’s stories about your dog, help with dog-related tasks, or simply space to grieve.

A sample conversation could be: “I have some really sad news to share. Our dog Rascal passed away last night. He was 16 years old and his health had been declining over the past few months. We are absolutely heartbroken. Rascal was the best dog – he used to always steal food off the counter when we weren’t looking. Could you please share any fun stories or photos you have of Rascal? Talking about his silly antics would really help us smile right now during this difficult time.”

What to Write in a Pet Loss Card

Sending a pet loss card or sympathy card is a thoughtful way to express your condolences when someone’s dog dies. Here are some tips for what to write:

  • Share a happy memory – Describe a fond memory or quirky habit that exemplified their dog’s personality. This provides comfort through shared experiences.
  • Acknowledge the loss – Expressions like “I’m so sorry for your loss” or “My heart hurts to hear about [dog’s name]” shows you recognize how deeply they’re grieving.
  • Offer kindness – Include phrases like “Know that I’m here for you if you need anything at all” or “My shoulder is always available if you need to cry or talk about your memories.”
  • Share your own pet loss (if applicable) – If you’ve experienced the loss of a pet before, briefly sharing your own experience and how you coped demonstrates empathy.
  • Include an endearment- Close the card with “Sending love” or “Thinking of you and [dog’s name] with fondness.”

A pet loss card could include:

“Dear [Name], I was so saddened to hear about the loss of your dog, Boomer. I always loved seeing Boomer greet you at the door with his whole body wagging. He brought so much joy and fun to our gatherings with his playful, affectionate spirit. Please know that I’m here for anything you need right now – whether it’s stories about Boomer’s antics, a shoulder to cry on, or help with errands. May your sweet memories of Boomer bring you comfort. Sending love, [Your name]”

Pet Loss Condolence Message Examples

If you can’t be there in person when someone’s dog passes away, sending a condolence message by text, email, or social media can be meaningful. Here are some sympathy message examples for the loss of a dog:

  • “Thinking of you today and sending hugs. Losing a pet is so painful but I hope all your wonderful memories with [dog’s name] can bring you some comfort.”
  • “My heart aches to hear about the loss of your beloved [dog’s name]. Dogs give us so much unconditional love. I hope you can find peace in knowing how very loved and cherished she was.”
  • “I’m so very sorry about the passing of your canine companion. Please let me know if there is anything at all I can do for you during this difficult time. I’m always happy to share stories and photos of the times we all shared with [dog’s name].”
  • “Words can’t ease the pain but know that I’m here for anything you need. [Dog’s name] brought so much joy and fun to my life too and I’ll always remember your special bond.”
  • “Losing a dog is like losing a member of the family. Sending hugs from my pup who will miss [dog’s name] too. Let the happy memories carry you through the grief.”

Keeping the message simple but sincere is key. Offer comfort, share fond memories, and make it clear you are available for support.

What to Say to Someone Who Put Their Dog Down

When someone has to make the difficult decision to euthanize their dog, they need gentle condolences and reassurance. Here are supportive things to say when a dog is put to sleep:

  • “I’m so sorry you had to say goodbye to [dog’s name] but please know you gave your pup a wonderful, loving life.”
  • “Making the decision to say goodbye is heartbreaking. Try to focus on how [dog’s name] is at peace now without pain or suffering.”
  • “You had so many wonderful years together with [dog’s name]. I hope all your beautiful memories together will eventually outweigh the grief of losing your loyal friend.”
  • “This must have been the hardest decision to make but you did right by your beloved dog. [Dog’s name] knew how deeply loved they were by you every single day.”
  • “My heart goes out to you. Saying goodbye is never easy but finding comfort in all of [dog’s name]’s joyful, fun memories will help heal your heart.”

Reassure them the decision was made out of compassion and that their dog knew how cherished they were. Avoid phrases like “It was just a dog.” Validate their profound grief.

How to Talk About Putting Your Own Dog Down

If you have to make the decision to euthanize your own dog, telling loved ones can also be extremely difficult. Here are some tips for sensitively communicating about putting your dog down:

  • Explain your dog’s condition – Provide details about your dog’s health issues, pain levels, quality of life, and prognosis to paint a clear picture.
  • Share vet’s recommendation – Mention that your veterinarian recommended euthanasia to prevent further suffering as the most humane option.
  • Note the planned date – This gives friends/family time to mentally and emotionally prepare too.
  • Expect emotions – Share that this is devastating but you need to do what’s right for your beloved dog.
  • Talk about afterward plans – Informing loved ones about burial, cremation, paw print keepsakes, etc helps them understand how to show support.

Example language could be: “We have some really sad news to share. Fluffy has been struggling with severe arthritis and hip dysplasia for the past year and it’s only getting worse despite all possible treatments. Our vet recommended we consider euthanasia soon to prevent Fluffy from suffering. As absolutely gut-wrenching as it is, we’ve decided to say our last goodbyes next Tuesday. We plan to have her cremated and keep her ashes in an urn. We would really appreciate any support during this difficult time as we say goodbye to our beloved family member.”

Pet Loss Grief Support and Resources

Coping with the grief after a pet dies can be a long, difficult process. Here are some helpful pet loss support and resource options to look into:

  • Pet loss counseling and hotlines – Many counselors and veterinary hospitals offer pet bereavement counseling and hotlines to listen without judgement.
  • Pet loss support groups – In-person and online support groups connect grieving pet owners to share stories and advice.
  • Pet loss forums – Online forums like allow 24/7 connection with those experiencing profound pet grief.
  • Pet loss books – Self-help books guide mourning pet owners through understanding the grieving process.
  • Pet loss rituals – Actions like holding a memorial, framing a photo collage or burying ashes can help provide closure.

Don’t feel obligated to “get over it” quickly. Seek outlets to share your pet memorial stories and process the grief at your own pace.

Social Media Posts About Losing a Dog

Posting about losing a beloved dog on social media platforms like Facebook allows you to notify an entire community instantly while paying tribute to your dog. Here are some tips for social media posts when a dog passes away:

  • Include a favorite photo that captures your dog’s personality
  • In the caption, share your dog’s name, age, how long they were part of your family, and any other pertinent details
  • Describe some of your favorite memories and quirks that made your dog so special
  • Thank your dog for the love, companionship, fun and life lessons
  • Share funeral service details, charitable donations, or other memorial plans (if applicable)
  • Express gratitude for those who helped care for your dog or have reached out during this difficult time

Example social media post: “With heavy hearts, we share the news that our beloved family dog Rascal passed away last Tuesday after 16 wonderful years by our side. Rascal was the most playful, loyal companion we could have asked for. Our home feels empty without hearing him snore from his favorite sunny spot on the couch. We’ll especially miss how he would always manage to steal snacks from the counter! Thank you Rascal for all the love and laughter you brought to our lives. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Rascal’s memory to the local animal shelter.”

Pet Loss and Helping Children Grieve

When a family dog dies, parents often struggle with knowing how to talk to their grieving children about the loss. Here are some tips for helping kids cope when a dog passes away:

  • Use simple, direct language about death – Say the dog “died” rather than euphemisms that may confuse.
  • Encourage expression of emotions – Allow children to cry, talk about feeling sad or angry, and ask any questions.
  • Have an open conversation about what happens after death according to your family’s beliefs.
  • Involve children in remembrance rituals like making a scrapbook of your dog’s photos and special memories.
  • Reassure kids they did not cause the death and that your dog loved them very much.
  • If possible, consider adopting a new dog when your child feels ready to help restore companionship and fun.

Losing a dog can be the first experience with death for a child. Having honest discussions and allowing them to participate in mourning rituals can help them process the grief in a healthy way.

Pet Loss Quotes and Poems

Including pet loss quotes, sayings or poems in a sympathy card, memorial service program, or online tribute can beautifully summarize grief. Here are some thoughtful pet loss quotes and poems:

  • “What we have once enjoyed deeply we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” – Helen Keller
  • “The pain of losing a pet is real — and it often hurts more than losing friends or relatives. Why? Because pets love unconditionally.” – Marc Bekoff
  • “If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever.” – Author unknown
  • “They are not gone, for they reside deep in our hearts, as they shared in the joys and triumphs as well as times of adversity while they were alive.” – Amber Whitson
  • Excerpt from “The Rainbow Bridge” poem: “When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.” – Author unknown

Choose quotes or poems that bring you comfort and capture your dog’s loving spirit.

Pet Loss – Seeking Closure and Healing

The grief after losing a beloved dog is a unique pain. While the sorrow can feel overwhelming in the early days after your loss, gradually you’ll find ways to gain a sense of closure and healing. Here are some tips that may help:

  • Allow yourself to fully grieve – Let your feelings flow freely, whether that means crying, looking through old photos/videos, or sharing stories.
  • Prepare a special place in your home with your dog’s collar, paw print, urn, or other keepsakes.
  • Write a letter to your dog expressing how much their unconditional love meant.
  • Do good in your dog’s memory like donating to an animal shelter or volunteering to walk other dogs.
  • Remind yourself that your loyal companion wouldn’t want you to be sad forever.
  • When you’re ready welcome a new dog into your life – you have so much love still to give.

Your cherished dog will live on in your heart. In time, the pain will subside and the positive memories will triumph.


Losing your loyal canine companion brings overwhelming grief. However, by thoughtfully communicating the loss, receiving support from loved ones, and finding ways to commemorate your dog’s memory, you can eventually achieve a sense of peace and closure. Your beloved pet deserves to be remembered and celebrated for all the joy and love they brought to your life. While the journey through grief is long, focusing on the fond memories can help heal your heart over time as you learn to treasure the bond you shared.