What to say when someone’s dog dies? Do you extend condolences like ‘sorry for your loss’? Alternatively, ‘I know you miss your loyal companion’, or ‘losing your faithful fur buddy is heartbreaking’ might be better.
Finding sincere words for pet loss can be difficult—especially if you’re not a dog person. While what you say matters, being a friendly face (or voice) offering genuine sympathy, comfort, and support is of equal importance.
Understanding the owner-dog bond
It’s not uncommon for the ‘love’ felt for a pet dog to parallel the bond shared with a child, partner or best friend. While the reasons for the owner-dog bond taking first place over other human relationships is complex, four elements define it.
1. Emotional support
A much-loved dog is a reliable companion in the home whose presence reduces loneliness and stress. But most of all, dogs listen without judgement.
2. Esteem support
Unlike human relationships, an adored dog remains constant, predictable and attentive. Therefore the level of affection is never on a sliding scale according to the owner’s financial standing, physical appearance or social status. In a dog’s world, love is conditional.
3. Functional support
Due to their active and social nature, a loved dog motivates its owners to keep to a routine and venture outdoors to walk. Dogs give their owners purpose.
4. Companionship support
From recreation, relaxation, to entertainment, a dog is central to supporting their owner’s lifestyle and social networks. In a dog’s eyes, a stranger is a friend they haven’t met yet.
Pet loss disruption
Overall, a much-loved dog plays an essential role as a family member. The dog’s presence contributes to companionship for relaxation, along with providing entertainment, and a sense of purpose. So when a dog dies, the grief felt depends on the level of disruption to the pet owner or family’s emotional, social and physical routine.
After my divorce, Jacko [dog] helped the kids so much. Jacko became the person the kids would come home to and throw their arms around. (Their dad wasn’t around to visit so much anymore.) Jacko was the big goofball that lightened our household. So when Jacko died, the loss was devastating.
With our adult children living in different states, little Coco [dog] became the glue in our lives. There was no time for silent periods with a Coco demanding food, a walk or attention. Communication in our marriage revolved around little Coco. When she died, a strange silence befell my wife and I. But worse, my heartache was so bad, my doctor sent me to a heart specialist to rule out any physical causes.
Archie [dog] made so many friends for me when I first moved to Portland. He’d greet everyone in the street. His wagging tail and broad smile made people stop and talk. That was ten years ago. When Archie died six months ago, I lost my confidence going out. I no longer had my social magnet; my right-hand buddy; my friend.
Cause of dog loss can add to grief
The circumstance leading to a dog’s passing also adds to the sense of loss. Pet death as a result of an accident, prolonged illness or euthanasia can cause feelings of guilt and blame. By understanding the circumstances, your kind words can help ease the burden of pet loss loss sorrow.
Mourning and dog loss
Most significant losses in life are marked by culturally defined and accepted rituals of mourning, but not pet loss.
All too often people dismiss candid expressions of pet grief as immature or weak. What’s more, bereaved dog owners sometimes find family unwilling or unable to understand the emotional depth of their loss. Even pet owners wishing to engage in the ritualization of their dog’s death, such as cremation or writing an obituary, can face ridicule. This lack of understanding usually results in dog owners feeling alone and too embarrassed to express their grief openly.
Best dog loss grief gift set
Nothing says ‘sorry for your pet loss’ like a thoughtful pet sympathy gift. Inside, bereaved dog lovers can take comfort from:
- Last Woof – a healing book filled with delightful photos and inspiring affirmations to encourage healthy grief recovery after pet loss.
- Warm Hugs – a comforting blend of all natural essential oils to ease the the pain of pet loss heartbreak.
- Rose quartz heart – a comfort companion to carry as a reminder a dog’s love is eternal and forever by your side.
- Affirmation card – a gentle reminder only the physical body passes. Love is eternal.
Words of sympathy for dog loss
Whether you write your dog loss condolences in a card, or express them in person, speak from your heart. But should words fail you, this list of unique dog loss condolences might help.
[Dog’s name] will be scampering across the Rainbow Bridge with the lifetime of love you gave him/her. Thinking of you in your time of sorrow.
I can’t tell you how many delightful memories [Dog’s name] leaves us with. Thank you for sharing him/her with us. He/she will be greatly missed by all.
Saying goodbye to a faithful companion is heartbreaking. You’re not alone. Call anytime. We love you.
While [dog’s name] is gone from your sight, trust his/her love lives on in your heart.
[Dog’s name] was larger than life and such a personality in your family. We can only imagine your heartbreak. We’re all thinking you all and sending our love.
Just reaching out to say [Dog’s name] brought much laughter into all our lives—especially for our Instagram posts. We’ll all miss him/her. Our thoughts are with you.
Understanding the owner-dog relationship and how the dog died, makes it easier to express the perfect condolence message. But most of all, showing compassion and kindness to the bereaved pet owner promotes healthy grief recovery.