Dog laying on bed.

What to do When a Pet Dies at Home

As pet owners, we all wish our sweet companions could live forever, young, happy, and free from pain and discomfort. Of course, this isn’t possible, and there will come a day when we have to say goodbye to the friend who made the world a sweeter place to live.

Some pet owners are faced with the decision to euthanize their pet, whether due to terminal illness, injury, or old age that is accompanied by significant loss of quality of life. It’s a deeply personal and often difficult decision to make. We encourage pet owners to seek the guidance of their veterinarian regarding their own animals’ unique circumstances. Others are faced with a pet passing naturally in their own home. Here are some things you should know when dealing with the death of a pet at home.

Look for the signs they are nearing death.

When a cat or dog is nearing the end, their body begins to naturally shut down. There are several signs that signal to an owner that a pet will pass in the next weeks, days or hours. Things such as:

  • Loss of coordination
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • No longer drinking water
  • Lack of desire to move or fatigue
  • No longer enjoys activities
  • Vomiting or incontinence
  • Muscle twitching
  • Confusion
  • Slowed respiration
  • Inability to get comfortable
  • A desire to be closer to you or a desire to be alone (some animals will go off and hide)
  • Loss of consciousness

Try to remain calm.

The reality of our beloved pet no longer being with us is distressing, to say the least. But it’s a natural part of life for every living thing. However, our pets can sense fear, stress and sadness in their owners, which in turn may be stressful for them. For their own peace of mind, try to reassure them that everything is ok, provide them comfort and love, and let them know it’s ok to go.

If possible, make sure they’re comfortable.

If your pet prefers company, you may think about putting their bed next to where you usually sit or by your bed. Provide them with a blanket or soft towel. It’s ok to pet them softly and talk to them. If they want solitude, let them be alone.

How do you know your pet has passed?

You will notice a complete relaxation of the body as they release their last breath. At this time, you should check for respiration and a heartbeat. If you can’t feel a heartbeat after several minutes, you will know for sure that your pet has moved on. You may want to close your pet’s eyes. Sometimes an animal will release any contents of its bladder and bowels, and it’s a good idea to clean them.

Take your time saying goodbye.

Spending some time with your pet after they’ve passed can have a deeply positive impact on the grieving process. Unless they had a transmittable disease, it’s perfectly safe to be near their body. Tell them you love them, give them your last kisses, pets and snuggles, and then wrap them in a clean blanket or towel. If you have other pets, let them see and smell your deceased animal. This will help them understand what happened and why they won’t be around anymore.

Call Best Friends.

Once you’re ready, contact Best Friends Pet Passings and Cremations online or call us at 505.345.5615. A member of our staff will tell you your options and what to expect next. Depending on the services you select, a Best Friends associate will either send someone to come pick up your pet, or you will need to drive them to our facilities at 924 Menaul Blvd NE in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Be prepared to grieve.

Losing a pet you cared deeply for creates a significant change in your life. Grieving the death of a pet can feel just like grieving a human you love. It’s perfectly normal, and perfectly ok. If you need to, take time to feel and process your loss. Take some time off of work, lean into family and friends, or spend time alone in places that bring you comfort. And remind yourself that your pet was loved, led a good life, and is at peace.

Dog laying on bed.