Research Reveals That Losing a Dog Can Be as Heartbreaking as Losing a Loved One

by DailyHealthPost Editorial

losing dog grief

Have you ever felt the pain of losing your dog? It’s an incredibly heartbreaking experience. In fact, research shows that losing a dog can be just as painful as losing a loved one.

After all, a pet is more than just an animal you own – it’s your best friend, someone you think of as family. The special bond you share with your canine buddy isn’t something you ever forget.

According to a research published in The Journal of Veterinary Medical Science, the loss of a pet can lead to psychosomatic symptoms in the owners. 400 questionnaires were distributed at four different animal cremation service centers. Researchers found out that young pet owners felt the most pain when they lost a dog, followed by women and then finally men. It was discovered that pet owners go through grief symptoms, which include anxiety, insomnia, and depression. Around half of all pet owners experienced these symptoms right after their pet died.


There is nothing unusual about grieving for a much-loved pet. In fact, overcoming the loss of a pet can be quite hard, maybe even more so than parting with a person.

5 Reasons Why Losing a Dog Hurts As Much As Losing a Loved One

“Sometimes losing a pet is more painful than losing a human because, in the case of the pet, you were not pretending to love it.” – Amy Sedaris

1. Bonding

The bond we forge with our dog, is very similar to the bonds we form with people. According to a study published in the Official Journal of the Human Behavior and Evolution, our body produces the same hormones when we bond with dogs as we do with other humans.

As a result, dogs elicit the same caring response a parent might give to his/her child. This is why your dog feels just like family to you. The chemical processes taking place in your brain make it as though you were speaking to another family member. This makes losing a dog all the more painful.

2. Grieving

Grieving for your pet isn’t something that’s easily understood by the mass. When a human passes away, a funeral is held and people grieve openly. In order to process the loss, you can seek out counseling or therapy and support from family members and friends.

However, when a dog passes away, you are expected to get over the loss quickly and move on. You don’t get the luxury to take time off from work or avoid social functions because for many, according to Telegraph, the loss of a pet isn’t something worth grieving over. 


Fortunately, vets can help pet owners deal with the grief of losing their pets. A heartfelt “sorry for your loss” card with a personal message can also go a long way to make pet owners understand that they are not alone. In fact, this small act of kindness can even help bring closure to some.

3. Love and Comfort

The love your dog has for you is unconditional. It can’t be faked, which is why it’s so painful to lose. When your dog passes away, you’re losing the love, comfort and companionship their presence provided. Losing all of this in one go can leave a hole in your heart.

4. Memories and Routines

Your life and home changes drastically when you lose your dog. Gone are the days where your furry pet would wait by the door waiting to greet you or occasionally jump on your lap for a cuddle. It’s natural to feel as if your life has turned upside-down.

A big chunk of your daily routine changes – walking your dog in the park, feeding them, bathing them, etc. You might find yourself still doing these out of habit and this makes it all the more difficult to move on.

5. Guilt

Pet owners who have to make the difficult decision to put their dog down because it is suffering or terminally ill often feel guilty about doing so. Although you made the best choice for your dog at the time, you might feel like you could have done more. Even if the vet told you nothing else could be done. Carrying around that guilt makes coming to terms with your loss even harder.

Your Feelings Are Valid

Losing a dog will be heartbreaking but acknowledging your feelings and letting yourself grieve is important. Grief can eat you alive from the inside and make moving on even worse. So mourn the loss of your beloved dog as you see fit and if people don’t understand this, tell them that science supports your feelings!