Why is Losing a Dog so Painful?

💔 Many of us have experienced the profound loss of a beloved dog and found ourselves overwhelmed with inconsolable grief that can last weeks and months.

According to Frank T. McAndrew, Professor of Psychology at Knox College, research shows the loss of a dog is, in almost every way, often comparable to the loss of a loved one. He writes, “Unfortunately, there’s little in our cultural playbook – no grief rituals, no obituary in the local newspaper, no religious service – to help us get through the loss of a pet, which can make us feel more than a bit embarrassed to show too much public grief over our dead dogs.”

Dogs provide us with such unconditional love and dedicated companionship that our bond with our loyal pet can be more gratifying than personal relationships. Who doesn’t daydream about playing in a pile of puppies or snuggling with our canine companions? And, dog owners are known to be typically happier than people who own cats or no pets at all.

McAndrew writes that the psychologist Julie Axelrod has pointed out that the loss of a dog is so painful because owners aren’t just losing the pet, but a source of unconditional love or a primary companion who provides security and comfort. 

Things to help with the grieving process: 

❤️ Validate your grief and realize it will take time to heal. Practice self-care.

❤️ Speak to a counselor or join a grief support group.

❤️ Embrace your memories of your dog through photos or create a scrapbook or shadow box. 

❤️ Have a memorial service for your pet by spreading the pup’s ashes in a special place.  

❤️ Volunteer at a rescue group or shelter or foster a pet until you are ready to share your life with one again. 

Dogs are an important part of our family. The loss of a dog can be devastating. Grief has no timeline and there are no rules for mourning. Most of us will not be able to resist owning another cherished dog at some point. They are worth it!

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Prevent Pet Suffocation is a registered 501(c)(3) organization. All donations are tax deductible.
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