How to Prepare for the Loss of a Pet

Let’s continue with the theme on the Rainbow Bridge, and how we can prepare ourselves for the loss of a pet. Death is inevitable. It is not something we like discussing because when we prepare for the loss of our pet, it makes it real. It makes it tangible. We need to talk about it, and we need to ensure our pet’s last days are filled with love and comfort

My 16 year old Alaskan Malamute, Roc, gave us plenty of time to prepare.  Unfortunately, my 18 year old, DSH, Aprilia, gave us only a couple weeks. Malamutes life expectancy is right around 12 years, but Roc lived well past his “expiration date”. As he aged, his muzzle greyed, his eyes clouded, and his hips gave him trouble. Near the end, I noticed he experienced seizures, and had accidents every day. When my husband and I saw that his legs would give out on and he couldn’t get back up, we decided it was time to call the veterinarian.

Aprilia, on the other hand, was healthy up until the last month of her life. A spry little girl with clear eyes, a clean coat, and who didn’t have any arthritis in her joints deteriorated quite quickly. I took her to an emergency vet when she stopped eating and looked to be constipated. A steroid shot worked for a couple of days, but her health quickly turned after that.  I knew I had to take her to the veterinarian when she was laying on the bathroom floor in a pool of her own urine.

Preparing for the Loss of a Pet -RocPreparing for the Loss of a Pet - Aprilia


Every pet is going to be different, but I hope these tips help you prepare for the loss of a pet at any stage.

Quality over Quantity When Preparing for the Loss of a Pet

One thing I had to remind myself of when faced with the question of euthanasia was if my pet’s quality of life was still good.  Was he or she suffering, or could we prolong their life for a bit more.

How do you determine a pet’s quality of life? The dictionary defines quality of like as “the standard of health, comfort, and happiness experienced by an individual or group.” My cat, Abel, was in the beginning stages of kidney failure. I knew for certain that if I didn’t let him go, he would likely pass away within a week. Because the likelihood of suffering was so great, I chose quality over quantity.

I did the same for Aprilia. Knowing she was an elderly cat and that she was truly suffering helped me make that decision. It was difficult, but again, her quality of life was more important.

Quantity is only the number of years your pet is alive. Our pets should live forever, right? Unfortunately, we haven’t found that magic pill or that new technology where we can keep our pets happy and healthy on a continuous basis.

And, as our pets cannot speak human (although, the videos of dogs saying “I wuv you” are super cute…) we need to put our pet’s needs ahead of ours. Don’t extend a pet’s life just because you don’t want to lose them. When you do this, you make it harder, not only for your pet, but it extends the grieving process for you.

Prepare for the Loss of a Pet

The time is near, and you know you need to look at options. Where do you begin?

Talk to Your Vet

The first step is to talk to your veterinarian. They will be able to give you information on keeping your fur baby comfortable, but will also give you information on how euthanasia is carried out.

They cannot make the decision for you; however, they will discuss all possibilities. In addition, a good vet will give you their honest opinion. Do not be afraid to ask questions or voice any concerns you might have. The veterinarian is there to help you, and they understand what emotions you are going through.


Research is important as well. You are able to choose whether you would like to have a veterinarian come to your home or if you would prefer the euthanasia be done in the office. You can also determine whether you want to be present during your pet’s euthanasia and if you want to keep his or her ashes.

Create Happy Memories

Prior to your pet’s death, make good/happy memories with them. Some people have made bucket lists for their pet and captured their adventures along the way. Some people will take their pet and feed them their favorite meal or even special treats. Take pictures and talk to your pet about all the amazing things he or she has done for you.

Give hugs and kisses and maybe a few more snuggles. There are so many ideas you can do to help make a hard experience a little easier.

Be Present When Preparing for the Loss of a Pet

This is the most important key. Your pets love you unconditionally, and they would travel the earth to be by your side. Do not leave them to die on their own or in the arms of a stranger. They want to know that they are still loved by you and that you are there when it is time for them to cross over the Rainbow Bridge.

It will not be easy, I assure you…but it is extremely important that you are there with them until the end. When you are there with them, it eases any fear or stress they might have. It also allows your face to be the last one they see before they begin their journey.


This is a tough post to write because there are so many memories and emotions present. Preparing for the loss of a pet is devastating, but it is necessary to be able to make the right decisions in a tough time.

Keep the idea of quality over quantity in mind as you prepare. You will probably question yourself on if you made the right decision. You might even tell yourself they weren’t ready yet. Trust your gut on this one. Chances are you picked up on your pet telling you they were ready to go.

Most of all, remember your pet loves you and holds no ill will towards you. You are going to be harder on yourself then they are, but you will heal over time. And remember, they are waiting for you at the Rainbow Bridge.

You may also decide to remember their lives with physical keepsakes.  If you choose to take this route, you can find different items through Chewy, Amazon, or even great small companies like Comfort Connects.

I would love to hear your stories. How did you prepare for the loss of your beloved pet? Do you have any ideas that may help others?

15 thoughts on “How to Prepare for the Loss of a Pet”

  1. I recall the sense of loss I felt after losing my pet. It was a very difficult period for me, because he was more like a companion to me than just a pet.

    I do wish I was more prepared for his eventual demise. And your article will go a long way in help other pet owners to come to terms with the loss of their companions. I do know I’ll meet him across the rainbow bridge someday and this really is my solace.


  2. Thank you so much to the author who has written down this kind of such a beneficial article.  This article opened my mind to the fact that we have to be prepared for loss of weight especially for pet lovers because death is inevitable. These are wonderful tips and i have taken my time to write down some useful points. Thanks for the eye opener 

  3. Losing a pet can be very heart breaking, especially when they got lost or died a premature death. 

    Before we lost tiger, our family pet dog, I loved him but I kept away from him as much as possible. 

    He was an aggressive dog, but when it came to the family, he only wanted to play and spend quality time with us. 

    Others spent time with him and had fun, but I just couldn’t trust him. When he got lost, I think I was the one that missed him the most, because I regretted not loving him enough to give him quality time. 

  4. Thanks for writing this post on how to prepare for the loss of a pet. I must commend you for a job well done and taking the courage and time to write this article because this article so bring back old memories you don’t want to remember.this article remind me of my 11 year old cat when he was about to pass away due to old age sickness.i have no choice than to let go. And later that year I bought another cat which happen to be a female and seen she enter my home it has been great I find new joy in her as my dear pet

  5. Firstly I would like to commend you for this informative article on preparing for the loss of a pet. As I read through your article, other also brought back my ow. Personal experience and that was when I realized it is better to have this knowledge before it happens so you will know how best to prepare for the loss of your pet. It is very essential that you are present has stated above. It will even help you heal faster. Thanks

  6. I absolutely love what I read in this insightful article because it is full of great information. This is fascinating and interesting to me. Pets are our best friends in most cases, choosing of quality over quantity is the best feeling we can give to our pets at the point of death. Death is inevitable and we must all focus on trying our best for our pets. I have never seen such post like this before on showing caring to our pets. Thanks for the review. All the best 

  7. Hi Kelly, preparing for the loss of a pet got quite emotional as well as your previous article on the Rainbow Bridge. Truth be told, no one love losing his or her pet, but sometimes like you rightly said, we have to do what is right by letting them go especially when they are suffering from chronic illness or ill health as a result of old age.

    Reading through the experiences you had with your pets towards the end of their life span, has given me clue on what signs to look out for in ailing pets and the right step to take when it becomes apparent that their lives is coming to an end.

    Talking to a veterinarian is great, as their opinion and advice matters a lot.

    1. Thanks Gracen! It will differ from pet to pet. You will just need to rely on the fact that you will know if your pet is acting out of the norm… I am glad this helped. 🙂

  8. Thanks for this Informative post, Although no amount of preparation can make the pain disappear, planning ahead for the loss of a pet can allow us to make better decisions and be ready with the right resources should we find ourselves on an emotional roller coaster. But how do we deal with the unending memories had with our lost pet that hurts so bad?

    1. Hi Seun, What always helped me and my kids is remembering the positive times we had with our pets over the very last memory. It will still hurt, but it eases some of the pain of knowing that your pet is gone.  I hope this helps. 

  9. Hi there

    This is really an emotional post. It is always hard to see a wonderful, lovely pet go. The experience is simply bitter. But seeing it suffering is really worse. That is where is really support the quality over quantity decision. I will support the euthanasia be carried by the veterinarian. But what I am not sure of is being there. I can only watch while it has been carried out because watching my die might cause me emotional pain

    1. Hi Kehinde, I understand how you feel about being present during the euthanasia. It is a very difficult decision, but it is crucial for you try and be there at the very end. It will help bring closure for you, but it also shows your pet that you are there. I have been at every euthanasia with my pets, and it was very difficult, but I take comfort in the fact that they knew I held them as they passed over the Rainbow Bridge. 

  10. I really loved this article it made me emotional just reading it. I understand the pain that one can have during this moment. Having to choose is not always easy; however, I believe this article gave some very good tips on preparing for that inevitable moment that we as pet lovers all come to.

    My daughter recently lost her sugar glider Lilly, she was ok one day and then the next she was in terrible condition when we had to make a run for the vet. My daughter was devastated over the loss but she did get over it even though she still holds all the memories she had with Lilly very dear.

    Are there any other suggestions you might add for people who may not have time to prepare for something like this?

    1. Hi Johnny,

      I am so sorry for your daughter’s loss! The only thing I can suggest is giving it time, and trying to remember the good times instead of the very end. My son went through that when we lost our cat. We would continually discuss the good memories to help lessen the hurt of the most recent past. 

  11. I can totally understand how emotional it must be for you to write such a post, and I can’t thank you enough for being brave and writing it so others could benefit from it.  That’s really sweet, because losing a pet is one of the most devastating events a person could endure.  My dog is my best buddy, and I can’t even think about living without him, although I know that day will come.  Thank you.

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