Why Losing a Dog Hurts so Much

Posted by Eddie Salama on

Nobody can fully understand the meaning of love unless he’s owned a dog. A dog can show you more honest affection with a flick of his tail than a man can gather through a lifetime of handshakes –Gene Hill.

According to research, it is estimated that there are approximately 32 million owned dogs and perhaps as many as 20 million stray dogs around the world. Apparently, dog ownership has become a part of our lives as humans. Thus, owning a dog is not just about feeding them and teaching them the “how to’s in life” but also about playing games with them, teaching them old tricks, exercising, having dates, and a lot more cool stuff. However, a dog’s life span ranges only from 10-20 years which makes their lives too short for us, humans. 

The saddest part about owning a dog is saying goodbye. Dogs fill up the missing part in our lives and losing them is heart-rending. They have been there through our darkest and brightest days and letting them go is a pain in the heart.


Losing a Dog


According to Dr. Siew, a medical doctor in Singapore, there are 10 reasons why losing a dog is like losing a part of you.


1. You see your dog much more than your friends and relatives.

There is probably no one else you see every day than your dog and your family. Dogs will always be waiting to spend time with you. They have no errands or appointment to meet. Only your presence matters.  

2. You were there from the beginning till the end.

Many of us adopt or buy our canine friends as puppies. We watched them as they grew up, grow old and die. We are part of the adventures and happiest memories of our dogs.

3. You taught them life lessons.

You were the one who taught your dog how to pee, how to poo in the right place, how to walk on a leash and a lot more. We are our dogs’ mentors and we watched them blossom from being clueless to being excellent.

4. Dogs are like our little children.

Research says that humans act as parents to their pets. Even during a dog’s old age, we will always treat them as our children.


Losing a Dog


5. Scientific proof: Love grows with dogs

Oxytocin levels rise by up to 300% when dogs and their owners gaze at each other, supporting the existence of a self-perpetuating oxytocin-mediated positive feedback loop in human-dog relationships that is similar to the of human mother-infant relations. In other words – our love grows with our canine companions, the longer we spend with them.

6. You learned unconditional love through your dog.

Even if dogs become naughty and clever sometimes, we will always learn how to love unconditionally from them. A love that is special, different and needs no pretending. This intense love is one of the major reasons why losing a dog is so difficult to come to terms with.

7. We are their world.

We have our friends, family, work and a lot more things but our dogs only have us. We feel guilty when we spend the holidays without them, or even spend too much time away from home. Our lives is a big part on their lives. Losing a dog is like losing a part of us.

8. Dogs express themselves, and taught you how to as well.

Dogs are not like humans who can cover up their true feelings. Dog’s emotions and actions are genuine. They never hold back – and when their gone, our grief is just as powerful.

9. Dogs are full of personality.

Dogs have different personalities and every dog is irreplaceable. This makes us miss them more after they are gone.

10. They were always there when you needed someone.

Dogs are the best companions in the world. The truth is, they will never choose to leave you. Our dogs will always make us feel better. That’s why when we lose them, the hardest part is not having them to comfort you anymore.


Losing a Dog


Facing the death of your dog is very heartbreaking. Every pet owner will understand. Letting go seems tough. Wherever you go, thoughts will always remind you of them and it’s hard not to feel the pain.   


Hence here are 7 strategies according to Vetstreet in coping up with losing a dog:

1. Talk through it.

The best thing you can do is to find people you can talk to about your pet. Find a support group, or call a hotline — many veterinary schools have them — and take as long as you need.

2. Address any feelings of guilt.

As an owner, you may need to face the possibility of euthanasia. Many pet owners struggle with feelings of guilt at having to make that choice for their beloved friend. Don’t think of it as taking your pet’s life, but see it as a privilege and a gift to spare them from those very hard end stages of the dying process, when there’s a lot of pain and suffering.

3. Consider a ceremony.

Many people find great comfort in gathering with friends and family to remember their cherished pet, either with a ceremony before or during euthanasia, or after the pet has passed. It’s a time for them to say goodbye and also celebrate the pet’s life.

4. If you have children, help them with remembrances.

Children feel the loss deeply, too. Allow them to talk as much as they need to about their sadness. Giving them the opportunity to do something physically sometimes helps kids work through their pain.

5. Take your time.

It’s important to go at your own pace. Deal with your grief as long as you need to, and don’t feel rushed to get over your sorrow. Everyone’s grief is an individual process. We all find comfort in different things.

6. Tie up loose ends.

If you’re having lingering questions or doubts about how your pet died, make an appointment with your veterinarian to get your questions answered. Don’t leave yourself wondering for years to come — be sure you can move forward without any questions or doubts.

7. Memorialize your pet.

Find a way that is meaningful to you to honor your pet. Planting trees or memorial gardens, volunteering, making a donation to a favorite animal charity or installing a plaque in the yard are some ways to keep your pet’s memory alive.


Losing a Dog


As pet owners, losing them can be your worst nightmare. Let’s continue to love and care for them while we are still with them.

Dogs come into our lives to teach us about love, they depart to teach us about loss. A new dog never replaces an old dog, it merely expands the heart. If you have loved many dogs your heart is very big –Erica Jong

Getting a new dog wouldn’t be the same as the one you lost. However, the greatest thing about dogs is that you will always learn to love them. Regardless of the breed, size and personality, we will always find the lovable quality of dogs. 

Losing them is not just “losing a dog” but losing the best companion, the most loyal buddy, the happy pill, the best friend, the loveliest.

Let’s keep on loving our pets. They cannot live with us forever but they can always have a space in our hearts. Spend time and cherish lovely moments with them. So that when they cross the bridge, we can always look back at the best lessons and memories in our lives.



Have you ever experienced losing a dog? Share your experiences by writing a comment.


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