5 Steps To Prepare For the Death Of Your Dog

prepare for the death of your dogDeath is a subject many of us find hard to talk about. Its ominous tone brings about anxiety and sadness. When it comes to our pets, we want to believe they’ll always be around to hug, to comfort us, and to play with. Unfortunately, like with all living beings, this is just not the case. Preparing yourself for the death of your dog can be a difficult challenge, but may help you and your family cope in the long run. By implementing these 5 steps, you may be better prepared for the death of your dog when it occurs.


1. Spend quality time with your dog

If you know your dog is getting older, is sick, or his death may soon be nearing, you should set aside a good amount of time to spend with him. It’s important to take advantage of the remaining time you have together and let your dog know just how much you love him. If your dog is still able to get around, you could take him to his favorite place on a walk, feed him his favorite meal, or just lay together on the couch and hang out.


2. Make arrangements


Although it can be difficult, you’ll need to think about what to do with your dog’s body after he passes. Making arrangements beforehand saves you from decision making while you are grieving. There are several options available including cremation, burial, veterinary disposal. Generally, your vet can give you more information about each of these. Certain options will require health department approvals, special caskets, or proper burial urns. Take your time and speak with your family to decide which way is best to honor your beloved dog after he has passed.


3. Prepare yourself emotionally


Truthfully, you will never feel fully prepared to accept the death of a loved one, and this includes your dog. You can prepare yourself to feel grief, but you may not understand the extend of the roll your dog has played in your life until he passes away and you’re left to live without him. Learning about the stages of grief may help you to be aware of what you will experience and to get you ready to help those around you. Understanding that anger and denial are normal can be a relief.


4. Talk to Your Kids


Talking to your children about death is important because they too will be affected by your dog’s death. It’s best to talk to them in advance and gently explain that your dog is getting older or becoming ill, and will soon be resting for eternity. Depending on the age of your children, give them as many details you can and be prepared to answer questions. Let them know that after your dog passes, he will no longer feel pain, this may be comforting. Additionally, telling your children what’s happening will allow them time to say goodbye to your dog.


5. Take photos and other keepsakes


If you know your dog will be passing on soon, it’s a good idea to take extra photos and other keepsakes like a paw print, to frame and have around your house. The photos you take before their death may not be the best, but you will want to have them later on. On days after the loss of your dog, you will be able to look at these photos and keepsakes and know that it was his time to go, and that his suffering has finally ceased.


Preparing for the death of your dog can be sad, but it provides you with an even greater reason to enjoy each day you have with him. All living creatures pass on and it’s in your best interest to acknowledge this fact and plan for it. There are other ways you can keep your dog healthy and comfortable in his later years like treating ailments they may encounter such as arthritis, revising their diet, and engaging them in gentle exercise. To get more information on this subject, download our free eBook Helping Your Dog Age Gracefully by clicking the image below.



Comments 43

  1. So I’m only 14 and I have a dog max, and he’s 9 years old and on his last lim and my parents keep telling me to start preparing myself. Well he’s been there for me since I was a baby, like a brother and I’m just struggling with though of losing him but hopefully it gets easier with these 5 steps

    1. I’m also 14, and my dog Charlie has cancer. I was just told that he will pass within two months. Every time i think about him I start crying. Just know that your not alone in this

    2. My dog is 15 i am 10 my bother is 18.sadie (my dog) will be passing soon she was there when i was born we got her when my brother was 4 shes been there for me when i got bullied she is trained her breed is boxer master the best combination for family with a baby she would guard me and my bother for she is an angel i love you sadie

  2. My dog is really sick and my dad keeps telling me he won’t get better. Every time k think about it I get teary eyes. I can’t imagine a life without my dog. My hamster just died, and school starts in 5 days. This is hard to cope with.

  3. My dog is 12 now, she’s a beagle. She has cataracts, warts all over her body and it feels as if she’s deterioating. Today I noticed her left eye has completely sagged and has lost contact with the lower lid. I feel sick looking at it because it means that she’s getting old and is getting closer the her time. I’m going to take lots of pictures and give her the things she loves before she goes.

  4. I have a German Shepherd/Airedale mix – he is almost 14 (He looks all German Shepherd, but other German Shepherd owners can tell he is not full). Most of his muscle mass in his hind legs are gone and I have to carry him up the front steps. 14 is, well, for a German Shepherd, … Whenever we go to the vet, they say he is in good health despite the loss of muscle mass. His hearing is almost gone, so I use hand signals and loud clapping. I know his time is near and it just makes me sad and I just start crying. We’ve had him since he was 5 when we got him from a rescue. We weren’t able to adopt his brother, who looks all Airedale. Every now and then I wonder how his brother is doing. The previous owners named them: Maverick and Cruise (Top Gun reference). We have 2 other dogs as well (brother and sister – 4 years old), our daughter is now 3 and loves all 3 very much. She is is not at the age yet to understand and we don’t know how she is going to understand when he is not around anymore. It just makes me sad on 2 accounts – our beloved dog getting older and our daughter not understanding when he passes.

  5. My toy poodle, Sunny, is 13. We just celebrated his birthday in December. I took him for his vet appointment and found out my baby is in the beginning stages of heart failure. He’s been with me since I was 10 and I can’t even imagine life without him. Selfishly I want to say I can’t bare to lose him but I know one day he’ll look at me with those big round eyes and tell me it’s time.

  6. My baby Betty passed 1/18/2017 she is a rat terrier had her ten wonderful years this advice given is good especially the taking pics good advice

  7. My 5 year old Boxer, Cayenne Pepper, was diagnosed with Lymphoma February 6. She goes through days of not eating, diarrhea and vomiting. In the last week, she has stopped following me around sooo much. The thought of her suffering and me loosing her seems unbearable at times. Reading through the comments here makes me feel like I’ve been cheated. I see here that these dogs were over 10 years old and my girl is only 5. I I’ve had her since she was 8 weeks, and she should have a lot of life left. We take pictures and I give her all the love that I can give. I miss her already. Thank you for the tips.

    1. Hi Nikki, I also have a boxer 5 years old and who was just diagnosed with lymphoma and the vet gave him 3 months left. It sucks because yes I also feel very cheated of many years. This is not how he was suppose to go. I always planned on taking care of him in his last days it still has not changed but knowing it is close I feel so many things but seeing him like this breaks my heart I am torn and I don’t know what I will do once he is gone but reading this helps.

  8. We’ve had our pup cash for 13yrs and found out last Oct he has skin cancer.. We tried surgery right away to remove from his belly area, thought we could get a few more yrs but it reappeared within a month b4 he was even healed..

    There tumors on his belly, they look painful but his vet insist we’ll know when he’s ready.

    My husband and I have explained to our 3kids, I’m having an extremely difficult time..

    He’s my best friend and any time I even think of him not being here I start crying?

    I’ve already made plans for his death but we’re moving to Arizona and I’m just praying he’ll be able to join us cuz I know he’d love it…

    I’m prepared he may not, I’m trying to holds myself together..

  9. I have a gorgeous 14 year old staffie who is unfortunately losing his ability to walk. His hearing is going and so is his vision.
    Ive had him since I was 10. Hes so precious to me. I got him back when my father was alive.

    It will break my heart to see him go so i aim to get many pictures and tell him every day that I love him.

  10. i’m twelve and my dog is thirteen. my family has had him since before i was born, so he’s been my baby my whole life. yesterday he threw up 6 times and his back legs kept giving out. i’m scared that he will die soon and i know i will cry because i’m crying right now just thinking about it.

  11. My baby is a yorkie. He’s 14 years old and I’m only 13 so he’s been there for me my whole life. His kidneys are failing and I don’t know what to do. They can’t do anything. He doesn’t walk or bark anymore. I can’t stop crying and I don’t know how to prepare for losing him. Someone help me. I need my baby..

  12. it’s lexi again and rico died this morning. I’ve cried so much I can’t cry anymore. It hurts. I say to just tell your pet it’s okay to go and you love them.

  13. I had a pug named Prince who left in May 2017. He was just 2 yeas old and I wish I had seen this sooner because this has really helped me deal with my situation.

  14. Jack is almost 18, he’s a rescue dog, a black spaniel and we’re his third family, He joined us when he was 6 and he’s at the end of his life now. We’ve set the date twice and cancelled it’s so hard to do. We’ve done all the planning and we have sedatives to give him before we call the vet out to euthanase him. He’s on painkillers tramadol and metacam, he can still walk but not very well anymore, every day his back legs get weaker and he can’t see very well anymore. I hope every day he’ll fall asleep and die peacefully. Oct 2017

  15. My dog is 10 years old this Christmas Day 2017. She was diagnosed with congenital heart disease and I can’t stop thinking about the day she leaves us. Anyway, I’ve had a few drinks and I’m sad. I want to give my deep sympathy to all of you that has either lost a pet or about to lose one. If it gives you any relief, know that your dog was with someone that really loved him or her. If you are on this site, you’re most likely a loving dog owner looking for some emotional support. That means your dog has lived a happy life. I’m sure he or she wouldn’t have preferred it any other way.

  16. My dog Mojo has CHF and the vet just doubled his meds. That’s a lot for a 15 lbs Chi mix. I know he won’t be with us long because even with the increased dosage of meds he struggles to breath when he gets excited or plays. His enlarged heart beats so fast it makes him cough to a choke . I have to prepare myself and my family for the inevitable. I will do the paw print thing, that sounds cute and I still have his canine baby teeth that fell out when he was a baby. I remember teaching him how to climb up and down the stairs. He is my love and the 9 years he has been on this earth has brought light to my heart. I hope that when the time comes he does not suffer and drifts away peacefully. Please keep in mind that putting a dog down is the most selfless act you can do when a dog is suffering.

  17. I really needed to read your post today. My dog is just shy of 17 and has been in CHF for awhile. He’s not going to get better and is showing signs of how uncomfortable he is getting. I’m so heartbroken as he’s been such a huge part of my life. Arrangements have been made with the vet for this evening. Pre arrangements are urged so you don’t have to deal with decisions and payments etc at this tough time. I have tried to “prepare” but nothing seems to work. The only solice I get is knowing that he lived an amazing life and I won’t let him suffer through his final days. Tough decision but necessary. He has brought the best and worst day of my life. See you at the rainbow bridge Panda. Xoxo

  18. …my dog is only 5 and he is a german shepherd but…he has fluid in his stomach and x rays seem to show nothing but little spots that look like cancer. I also have a 7 year old German shepherd she is getting heavy and I have had them for almost my whole like.i don’t think I can coup with something like this or the pup they had.

  19. I’ve had my baby girl about 7 years. But in the last three she goes everywhere with me we do everything together. I found out Saturday her heart is enlarged their spleen is enlarged and she has a tumor growing on it. I’m going to do everything I can to prolong her life. She has been by me everyday every night what am I going to do without. She is a red nose pit and one of the best Bulldogs you will ever meet

  20. My boy Meeko, a German Shepherd Doberman mix, is ten years old and will turn eleven next month. We all thought he’d live til 14 or so years old just because he is so active and loves to play. We just went to the vet and they said he was in excellent health. However last night he was having trouble breathing and wouldnt get up so me and my mom (I’m seventeen) carries him into the car to the emergency vet. They told us he was critical and wheeled him off on a stretcher. He had fluid in his paracardial peritoneum (chest/heart lining) and they removed it so he was stable. We got to say goodbye because he got stable but they informed us he probably had a mass on his heart and would not make it very long. We found out this morning he has cancer wrapped around his little heart and is squeezing it so it bleeds and can’t beat properly. They said the bleeding stopped but it could start again and kill him within the next few days or even months. I was so unprepared to lose my baby. It was so unexpected since yesterday he was running in the park with his younger brother, an Australian cattle dog. I’ve been so scared that I’ve been throwing up- I’m currently waiting for my dad to bring him home. I feel like I’ve been cheated out of a couple more years with my beautiful handsome baby. I’m so happy I have my other dog Dexter to comfort me in this time. We are trying to keep Meeko up long enough to say goodbye to my sister who’s in college and coming home for him. My boy Meeko was so special- all dogs are, but he was so good and pure. He will still to this day jump up and give you a hug if you ask for one. He ‘talks’ to us, when we talk in our family as if to try and join conversation. I will try and get videos of him doing it before he passes. I am so stressed about losing my precious angel. All we want is for him to go peacefully and know he is loved and not feel pain.

  21. It was hard to read this without shedding a tear or two. But preparing yourself for such thing usually goes like that. I have a dog named Boly, he’s been with me since I was 3, and he is now 12, he is a Bovier de Flandres. He has gone ill and he might soon pass away. I hope as I follow these steps that it might help me mourn his death better.

  22. We are saying goodbye to our 16 year old Doberman today. The vet is going to come to our house to euthanize her. I did a lot of research & it’s supposed to be the least stressful for her to be at home for her passing. Even though she is very old & has a long & wonderful life it still hurts like crazy to have to make this final decision. I have been up all night feeling sick about it. The only thing that is giving me comfort it knowing that we are giving her peace & preveting any future suffering. I love her too much to watch her struggle any longer. I don’t want to wait too long like I did with my first dog. Looking back on my previous experience I realized how selfish that was. I wanted to keep my first dog alive for as long as possible, I did not understand that I was thinking more about myself than my dogs feelings. This is the right thing to do for my current dog Zoe. Her quality of life is gone. I am going to miss her with all of my heart. Counting the hours until the vet arrives there is a part of me that just wants it to be over with. I hate this part but I try to remember that it’s only painful & hard for the humans. It’s very peaceful for Zoe because she will no longer feel any pain.

  23. My dog is turning 15. I honestly don’t think she will make it to her birthday which is near mine. I grew up with her since a baby. She is completely deaf, cancer all over her body, and muscles are deteriorating. Its hard to see her like this. I try to prepare myself but I never want to go through the pain that I know I will feel. How does someone deal with this? My mom is taking her to the vet in a couple days, however I feel that this is when we may have to euthanize her. I feel like her life is coming to an end. Oh why does this bring me such pain.

  24. My dog Meg is 16. She’s a springer spaniel. On Tuesday she had a seizure and my husband took her to the vet. Her liver is packing up. Today we went again to the vet (3rd time in the week for a check-up) Meg doesn’t want to take her medication so we opted for liquid medicine. I am being selfish to tell my husband that am not ready to let her go yet. She has lost her balance and losing appetite. I am preparing myself for the worse. I know I will have to let her go soon.

    We took her to her favourite beach today and i knew deep in my heart it was the last time for Meg to watch the waves. My heart is broken.

  25. I have a dog named Shadow, he’s 14 years old… He’s been with me since I was a child. I know I’ll have to let him go someday. I keep trying to prepare myself. My heart can handle this. All I have to say is that I’m attached to my dog, and love him dearly.

  26. My little Dachshund Ralph. He is 13 years now this month. I had tumors removed almost a year ago and he has gone downhill since then. He is acting very sluggish wont get up much and several sores are returning. I am 62 and he is my best friend in this world.
    I have already lost Sophie. She was a Dachshund too. Often times still cry over Soph….and i only had her 4 years. Ralphie has been with me all his life.
    Spark of life will be over once he is gone.

  27. Hello. I have a cat named Binx. Even though I know this is for dogs, this is the first thing I found while searching. Everytime I think about my cat ever possibly passing away, I immediately have a mental breakdown and start crying hysterically. I’ve had him since he was six months old and he’s going to be turning 8 years old in May. Even though he still has many more years to go, I’ve been thinking about what I’d want or how I wanted it. Originally, I wanted him to be giving the luxury of being buried in a coffin I could afford, but currently I’m thinking about getting him stuffed so I could at least still have something to look back at and forever give him all my love.

  28. My dog Meeka, is 15. She is starting to not eat and she is really dehydrated. The vet said that her organs are expanding, causing her stomach to get smaller so she pukes up her food. My mom said if she doesn’t get better in a few days we have to put her down. The sad part is, is that she still acts like a puppy and is always happy. She is just physically not healthy anymore. She has trouble getting up, walking, eating, and drinking. She is just always happy and when we put have to put her down I’m going to be a wreck.

  29. I’m using these steps for my cat, she’s ten years old now, she she still has at least a few years, but I know it’s coming and I want to be ready when she starts showing signs of old age and nearing death. She wasn’t my everything, I’ve had her since I was six years old, (I’m 16 now) and I want to give her the best life she can have for the next few years. The thought of her dying pains me dearly, and I need to know how to live without her (even though I have another cat, but she’s only 4 months old and is perfectly healthy so I don’t have to worry about her death) I’m worried about how she’s going to handle losing Stacey (the old cat) when Stacey was like the only other cat she new other than her siblings and cousins she was with for the first month of her life before I adopted her. I hope these help me get ready for coping with Stacey’s old age and inevitable death, it’s really painful to think about this.

  30. My bichon is 14 1/2 years old and suffering from kidney failure and she is vomiting up her food and water, I know our time is comming to an end, she will always hold a place in my heart.

  31. As I am reading through your posts, I cannot feel but sad. But also very grateful. Grateful and happy for the dog in my life.
    Let me explain.

    My rescue, Vegas, is 15 years old now. She has arthritis in her back legs and she is not able to see or hear very well anymore. She still has the appetite of a caveman, which I hear is good news, so I celebrate it every day sharing some of my dinner with her along her regular meal. She knows she is going to be spoiled and she looks forward to it.

    But tonight after reading your posts, I kneel beside her bed and approach her. And I tell her that I LOVE her (she is probably a little bit annoyed like teenage kids are with their parents, and goes: “yeesss, Mom, I knowww!”, and all that:)) and suddenly I realize that between our romance-like situation there is a very bad smell… a piece of hardened poo on her bed! Why on earth did she smell sooo bad? Oh, now I know.

    I am so grateful to be a part of this dog’s life. If I had not adopted her, I would probably be dead, as so would she.

    We have had and have so much fun and so many good times.

    I have begged her not to make me decide. She can go whenever she wants.

    The only condition is that she has to go BEFORE she experiences pain.

    I trust this is what will happen whenever it shall be. Thanks Vegas for everything that you have gave me in the past 15 years. And thanks God for everything else. <3

  32. My Boxer’s name is Otis and he’s 10. He has tumors on his neck and in his chest. At first we were ready to treat this aggressively and pursue surgery, but now we are realizing that was us being selfish. We are going to attempt chemo and hope that will shrink the tumors. My family and I are absolutely devastated at the possibility of losing our baby. He’s in good spirits now, but I now know what I have to do when the time is right.

  33. It’s Christmas day…and the love of our life, Rula, a Brittany spaniel…is deteriorating due to an oral cancer. She has survived both hind leg surgeries, thiroid disease and arthritis like a trouper…for almost 11 years. I call her the pony express! I know that she won’t be with us, in body, forever…but will forever be in our hearts!

  34. We’ve had our first family dog for 12.5 years. Our sons are 21,19 & 14. She’ has a heart condition & we were told her end is near. It’s very sad & the boys immediate reaction was to ask are we going to get another dog like her? They want to replace her right away. Any advise??

  35. I’m 13 and have a young dog named Penelope she is 1 and a half and my mum brought her me as a present and it was the best thing ever. However in the pass two months she has nearly died twice and it’s now the third time and we don’t think that she can make it this time I don’t know how I will cope with out her .❤️

  36. Hello I have a 11 year old red nose pitbull and let me just say this dog has been my son my right hand this dog sleeps in a bed he does everything my kids will do but I have a question how do I get prepared to losses him I understand he is old but I can’t stop crying because I’m so scared of losing him I lost one in August of 2018 and my world come down on me I don’t know what to do

  37. My dog, Kukui, is 10. We found her on the side of the road when she was only a few weeks old. Kukui has been the best girl ever. We lived in an old Hawaiian cabin on a private little beach the first 6 years, Now, we live in a rainforest by Mauna Loa Volcano. Kukui had cancer & surgery 3 years ago but it has returned and she hasn’t eaten for five days, and throws up when she drinks water, so I can’t even give her a pill. I wish a Vet could come here, but we live off the grid. She is very weak now, so we are sitting with her, massaging her, talking to her, and hoping she can sleep soon and head for the Rainbow Bridge. There are so many things to consider, so we are taking some pictures, and carrying her outside to lie in the sun, and letting her sleep near our bed. She’s had a great dog-life, playing on the beach, chasing crabs & mongoose, running through the forest with our other dog, riding in the car … good times for us, too. This is so hard, but I hope she can go naturally, in her sleep. I’m trying to make her comfortable, but if she seems in pain, I will opt for a vet-assisted euthanasia soon. Kukui has been by my side for 10 years, my best friend. I’m going to miss her. Sending my alohas to all you fellow dog lovers. We were lucky to have them.????

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