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Making the Difficult Decision

We all know that losing a pet is an inevitable part of the experience of having an animal companion. But that knowledge does little to prepare us for coping with the loss of a pet. Grieving over a pet begins the moment it is understood their end is coming. It is then that we begin to imagine our ‘new normal’ of facing a life without them. Many will find the decline of a beloved pet too much to witness and choose euthanasia early on. Others will choose supportive palliative care for as long as possible and choose euthanasia only when suffering is unavoidable. And still others will provide hospice care until a natural death occurs.

Depending on the circumstances, each of these options can be the correct path of care. What matters is that your decision is made out of love for your pet. The emotions that accompany these choices will vary. But, making the right choice for your pet will help to make your mourning a more peaceful and healthy process. The complex mix of emotions felt by you and your loved ones may include: Guilt, Fear, Sadness, Anger, Resentment, Frustration, Helplessness, Acceptance, Peace, and more. You are not alone. Whatever you feel, do not forget that many others share your feelings. Please surround yourself with others that understand and empathize with your loss. The process of grieving for a pet is important. Reach out to family members, colleagues, friends, your congregation, your veterinary support staff, and pet loss support hotline and online community. Intense ongoing grief may be best helped with the aid of a mental health professional.


Additional Support Resources

Pet Loss Support Hotlines:

Gateway Pet Compassion Careline 


24/7 Staffing by a Counsellor

Tufts University Pet Loss Support Hotline

508-839- 7966
M-F 6-9 pm ET

ASPCA Pet Loss Hotline

(877) GRIEF-10
12p-midnight ET

Iams Pet Loss Support Hotline

888- 332-7738
M-F 9am-5pm

Pet Loss Support Websites

Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement
Pet bereavement counselors, virtual condolence cards, counselors at law for pet- related matters, In Memoriam list, bereavement for service dogs, local meetings, and more

Grief Healing
Grief healing online discussion groups administered by bereavement counselors

Pet Loss Support Website
The Rainbow Bridge story; Monday Pet Loss Candle Ceremony; message board, chat room; add pet’s name to list for tributes; poetry and music in memory of pets

Rainbow Bridge
One-on- one online grief counseling, memorials, Monday Night Candle Ceremony

Pet Loss Support
Counselors, articles, list of books

Lightning Strike Pet Loss Support
The name comes from the hope that the page will provide lightning-fast help for the griever

Animal Love & Loss Network
Counselors, local support groups, list of books, memorials, postings for missing pets

In Memory of Pets
Submit a tribute, candlelight ceremony, share your pet’s family story, photo gallery


Local Bereavement Counselor
Laurie Levine, LMHC

Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) whose Individual practice is dedicated to Pet Loss Grief Counseling & Caregiver Support

Sleepy Dog Veterinary 114 Massachusetts Avenue Arlington, MA 02474

P: (781) 443-8493

P: 781-350-8219

Michele Collins, LICSW
Psychotherapy practice focused in bereavement with 23 years of experience in human hospice
1 Central St.
Stoneham, MA 02180
P: 617-803- 6863
F: 781-439- 3693

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