Saying Farewell to Your Pet

How to be prepared and tips for the grieving process

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The death of a beloved animal means loosing a best friend

We love our pets and have close bond with them. We cherish the time we spend together and struggle to imagine that one day we will have to say goodbye. Thanks to the availability of good veterinary caremany pets live into old age. But eventually the time will come to say farewell. It is therefore important that you give some thought to this difficult issue in advance, because when the day finally arrives, you may be emotionally overwhelmed. 

The decision to say goodbye

Some companion animals die of old age. However, others may have to be euthanised because they are seriously ill or suffering from an incurable disease. Others may be so badly injured that they can’t be saved, or their health may have deteriorated so much in old age that they have no quality of life to speak of. In the most critical cases – for example, when a pet has an incurable disease such as cancer or is seriously injured – the decision to euthanise may  be taken out of the owner’s hands. However, there are other circumstances when an owner may feel there is still some chance that their pet might pull through, such as when their pet has severely reduced quality of life. But alleviating the suffering of animals is one of the  golden rules of animal welfare. Feelings that are focused on our own personal needs – such as when we tell ourselves “I’m not ready to let my pet go yet” or “I can’t bring myself to do it” or “I’m scared of losing them” – are misplaced and may not reflect the animal’s best interests.

The decision to let your pet go can be one of the most difficult decisions you have to make in your life. Although it is your personal decision, it doesn’t have to be one that you make on your own. Your vet, your family and your friends can help and support you.

You are not alone

FOUR PAWS, too, would like to help by suggesting ways of handling this decision, ways of preparing for the moment when you say goodbye, and ways of coping with your grief afterwards. We have prepared some guides for you on these and related issues. The authors of the guides have themselves had to make the painful decision to put a pet to sleep. They have personally experienced what they are writing about and know how it feels. We hope that reading the guides will give you hope and strength, as well as some useful insights.

Sleeping dog

Letting Your Pet Go

Knowing when the time has come to say goodbye

Dog being hugged

Preparing to Say Goodbye to Your Pet

What to consider before your pet's passing 


Coping With the Death of a Pet

The loss of a much-loved animal can leave a huge void in your life


Stories of Love and Loss

Sharing memories and stories of loosing a beloved pet can help during the grieving process. Here are three touching stories:

Harald's Story

A shocking diagnosis

Young pug Harald seemed to be healthy and fit. Unfortunately, when he got ill one day, the diagnosis was worse than expected, and he had to be released from his suffering right away. Read his story.

Puma's Story

Only a matter of time

Puma was not only a fighter for all of his life, but also a very special cat. After battling many illnesses he had to be released from his pain. Today a portrait tattoo keeps the memories alive. Read his story.

Helga's Story

A sudden loss

Rescued from the illegal puppy trade, FOUR PAWS dog Helga was known as a happy, cuddly dog. Without any warning signs, her passing came unexpected. Read her story.

See More of Our Guides for Animal Lovers


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