Pet Bereavement Resources

Ken Pope
, Ph.D., ABPP

I gathered the following resources for those facing difficult decisions regarding ailing animals and those who have lost or are losing a beloved animal.

PLEASE NOTE: I created this site to be fully accessible for people with disabilities; please follow this link to change text size, color, or contrast; please follow this link for other accessibility functions for those with visual, mobility, and other disabilities.

The American Veterinary Medical Association's Guidelines For Veterinary Hospice Care: "The American Veterinary Medical Association recognizes that clients facing terminal illness in companion animals may desire veterinary hospice care for their animals.... Veterinary hospice gives clients time to make decisions regarding a terminal companion animal and to prepare for the pending death of the animal. The comfort of the animal must always be considered when veterinary hospice care is provided.... The veterinary hospice team consists of the veterinarian and trained staff who provide expertise in palliative care and pain control for such terminally ill animals. Maximizing the benefits of veterinary hospice requires that all family/household members participate in the care of the patient."

Animal Love and Loss Network: "The Animal Love And Loss Network (ALLN) seeks to bring together those who are mourning the injury, illness or loss of an animal companion.... This goal is to be accomplished through the open dialogue and free exchange of ideas by a network of caring individuals, dedicated to helping themselves and others better understand and move through the pain of loss and grief."

ASPCA Pet Loss Hotline: "Pet parents can receive help from the ASPCA Pet Loss Support program with the following issues: * Assistance with the decision to euthanize. * Comfort and support at the time of euthanasia. * Help with grieving the loss. * Advice on dealing with children, the elderly or disabled individuals who are facing a death of a companion animal. * Helping the surviving animals in the household to cope. * Assistance in establishing a relationship with a new pet."

Colorado State University Argus Institute for Families and Veterinary Medicine Grief Resources: Step-by-step information, readings, and other resources for pet bereavement.

Companion Animal Association of Arizona's Pet Grief Support: "Operated entirely by trained volunteers who themselves have suffered the loss of a pet, the Service provides a telephone Helpline ["Although there is no charge for this service, please be aware that long distance calls will be returned collect."], monthly support group meetings, pet grief information, literature and reading lists, and referrals to appropriate resources."

Coping with the Loss of a Pet: An online article with the following sections: Grieving; Five Stages of Mourning; Explaining Pet Loss to Your Child; Reasons for Euthanasia

Cornell University Pet Loss Support: Provides a hotline staffed by volunteer veterinary students, information (about euthanasia, stages of grieving, etc.), books for children, etc.

Gone To Dogstar: "We are a free internet memorial community, open to all dogs who have Gone to DogStar, and who wait for us there. Our goal is to give you a place where you will always be able to find your friend in the night sky. And to help you realize that you have been blessed with a very special gift when you know, as do we, that spirit as bright as theirs can never die. Each of our dogs have individual stars that lead to their respective pages, grouped in constellations. The posting of DogStars to their constellation is a free service..."

Grief-Pets E-mail Support Group: "Grief-Pets is an on-line support group for anyone dealing with the loss of a pet--any pet, whether the loss is recent or not, or even the imminent death of a pet." On their home page, choose the "Unique Losses" listing, which will show "grief-pets."

Halton/Peel Pet Loss Support Group: "If you are trying to cope with the loss of a pet, or are facing a euthanasia decision we are there to help.... We have also suffered the pain of pet loss and are here to listen to you, not to judge and to let you know that you are not alone in how you are feeling. If you are trying to cope with the loss of a pet, or are facing a euthanasia decision, we welcome you to our Pet Loss Message Board."

Hoofbeats in Heaven: "a gateway to horse loss resources created to provide the information, solace and support you may be seeking. Here you will find you are not alone in your grief over the loss of your horse.... While society is coming to increasingly accept that a dog or cat is a member of the family, a horse is still largely considered nothing more then livestock. Here we know that we can love our horse as much as any family member and we mourn their death just as deeply."

Hospice Care in Dogs: "When a pet becomes chronically or terminally ill, whether with cancer, immune diseases, kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes or other ailments, some difficult decisions need to be made. Some people feel that euthanasia is the best alternative. However, the number of people who prefer to help ease their pet through the remainder of their days is growing. These individuals feel that it is not their choice to end a life. Instead, they would rather care for their pet, provide support and allow their companion to gracefully pass away. This type of care, referred to as hospice, has been common in the human health field for many years. It is now becoming more and more accepted in our pets."

How to Help Your Child with the Loss of a Pet: "In our society, we place tremendous value on the care we give our pets. They become like members of the family. Thus, losing a beloved animal friend can be a terrible time for the whole family. It is natural to want to protect your children from painful experiences. However, most kids will be able to adjust to the loss of a pet if your approach is honest, gentle, and simple. This article will describe the grief process, specifically as children may experience it, and will offer several tips on how to help children cope with the death of a pet."

If Your Pet Has a Terminal Disease: An online article with some specific steps to take.

In Memory of Pets: "to offer Support and Understanding to "ALL" let you know you don't have to grieve alone after a Loss. We also wanted to offer a Special place where you can express your true feelings from your Heart with a Tribute,Memorial or a Candle Light to all Beloved Pets..."

Lightening Strike Pet Loss Support: "This site is called Lightning Strike because I hope it provides 'lightning-fast' pet loss support for pet lovers grieving over the death of a pet, a dying pet, sick pet, or lost matter if they walk, crawl, fly, hop, or swim our great earth. To date, the site has helped hundreds of thousands of people from around the world. It's here to provide a "cybershoulder" for pet loss sufferers. Here you will find a pet loss forum for the exchange of thoughts and feelings...a pet loss support blog, where you can host your own "online diary" for others to see and comment upon...a pet loss book well as a list of other pet loss support websites you can turn to for further comfort."

Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine Pet Loss Support: pet loss support hotline staffed by volunteers; information; lists of books (with a section "especially for children") on pet loss.

Ontario Veterinary College Pet Loss Support Hotline: "We are a group of University of Guelph students who are trained to listen and support you through your grief. We provide a non-judgmental forum in which you can express your feelings and concerns surrounding the loss of your pet. We are a resource you can use for information regarding pet loss, euthanasia and the memoralization of your pet."

Pet Loss Grief Support: personal support and advice, message board, chat room, The Monday Pet Loss Candle Ceremony, Tribute Pages, healing poetry like Rainbow Bridge, etc.

Pet Loss Message Board: "ALL the Pet Loss Message Boards are moderated to make this an ABSOLUTELY SAFE place for you to find support."

Pet Loss Support Page: "Anyone who considers a pet a beloved friend, companion, or family member knows the intense pain that accompanies the loss of that friend. [Resources for] coping with that grief, and with the difficult decisions one faces upon the loss of a pet." Includes state-by-state guide to support groups.

Rainbows Bridge Pet Loss Grief Center: Offers a pet loss forum, a pet loss chat room, and other resources.

Triangle Pet Hospice Care Yahoo Group: "This site is dedicated to those special caregivers of pets in their final days on this earth. As a veterinarian who provides caregivers with the knowledge and power to allow their companions to pass on peacefully, comfortably and with dignity at home, I thought this would be a great place to share information on hospice care."

Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine Pet Loss: Information about pet loss; lists of books for adults and for children on losing a pet; Tufts Pet Loss Support Hotline staffed by veterinary students trained by counselors from the Tufts Counseling Center; and other resources.

University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine Pet Grief Support: Q & A on pet grief, the Florida Pet Grief Support Hotline, and other resources.

University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine C.A.R.E. [Companion Animal Related  Emotions] Pet Loss Helpline: "The C.A.R.E. Helpline was developed to provide a supportive outlet for people experiencing the actual or anticipated loss of their cherished companion animal. The Helpline is staffed by veterinary students who understand the importance of the bond you share with your animal friend and the emotions involved when that bond is threatened or altered. The students have received training by professional grief counselors and undergo continued supervision by a licensed clinical social worker." 

Virtual Pet Cemetary: "Our deepest condolences on the loss of your pet. We at, hope to give you this opportunity to share your grief, love and respect in a virtual pet tribute. The virtual pet cemetery is dedicated to preserving the memory of our beloved pets. There is no charge whatsoever for this service."

Washington State University Pet Loss Hotline: "We are a group of veterinary students attending Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine. We have been trained in grief counseling by a licensed therapist. We are all volunteers, many who have experienced the loss of a beloved pet. By helping others through this painful time, we hope to become better, more compassionate veterinarians." 


[Back to Top]