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🌈 Saying Goodbye to a Beloved Pet

How to give your furry companion the loving sendoff they deserve

Whether they grew up in your home or you adopted them as a senior, one of the hardest things to do in life is say goodbye to a beloved pet. Even when a long illness has given us time to prepare, it is never easy. Knowing when to help them pass, determining how to let them go peacefully, and deciding how to honor them can be difficult to figure out by ourselves. There is no one formula for a proper goodbye, but there are a number of things you can do to ensure your pet’s transition is as peaceful as possible.

"You don’t need to face these difficult decisions all by yourself."

Consult with a Veterinarian

Veterinarians are there to help with the care of your pets while they’re alive, and to help ensure they suffer as little as possible as they approach the end of their lives. You don’t need to face these difficult decisions all by yourself. If you live in Dutchess County, DCSPCA’s veterinary team is here for you as you try to decide whether your pet is suffering or still has a good quality of life. Other veterinary professionals in other regions are also available to help you through the difficult decisions at the end of your pet’s life. You are not alone.

Create a Peaceful Environment

Our pets are incredibly sensitive to the emotional states of the people around them. As much as we are overtaken by sadness, it’s important to try to stay calm in the presence of an animal who is in the process of transitioning out of their life. Pet them, give them kisses (if they like them), and tell them softly how much you love them, but please do your best not to become overwhelmed by emotion to a point that might upset them. What they need most from you at this time is your calm loving presence and gentle physical touch. 

Let Others Say Goodbye

Leading up to the passing of your pet, you might want to invite over friends and family who also love them, for sweet and gentle goodbyes. Be careful not to overwhelm them with crowds, but allow humans and animals they love and trust to spend some time with them. Some of their human friends might want to write them a letter or poem expressing their love that they can quietly read to your pet. Pets are so sensitive to human emotions that they will likely understand some of the sentiment of what is being said. 

"During a service, you may read remembrances, play music, or incorporate spiritual traditions of your choosing."

Honor Their Remains

At the time of your pet’s passing, your veterinarian will ask you what your preference is for their remains. It’s helpful to have made this decision in advance, so you don’t need to deal with this when you have just said good-bye. At DCSPCA we offer private cremation in which you may keep your pet’s ashes, or less expensive communal cremations where your pet’s ashes will not be returned. You may choose to receive the ashes in a sealed container or decorative urn. You can keep these in your home, or you may want to bury the cremated remains in DCSPCA’s beautiful cemetery, where you can come visit them.

Saying goodbye is a process and you may want to hold a service for your pet either at home or here at DCSPCA. During a service, you may read remembrances, play music, or incorporate spiritual traditions of your choosing. Or you could have a goodbye ceremony at a pet’s favorite spot—like where you went hiking together.

Coping With Grief

Our pets are members of our families, and grief is a process that may last our whole lives. It can be made harder when we feel misunderstood by others who don’t relate to the depth of our loss. Joining a pet loss support group can be very helpful in the days, months, and years following the loss of a beloved companion animal. 

"Our pets are members of our families, and grief is a process that may last our whole lives."

Another way to cope with grief is to honor your memories with memorials or creative projects. At DCSPCA we offer colorful tiles, or bricks that memorialize beloved pets who have passed. Writing an obituary about a pet who has passed also can offer a great deal of comfort and closure. You could post it to your own social media accounts, or share it with your closest friends. And you wouldn’t be alone if you still spoke to your pets out loud once in a while, when you’re thinking about them after they’re gone. 

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