A beagle getting hugged by a human.
(Woman hugging s dog. Photography by Shutterstock.

5 Ways to Show You Care When a Friend’s Dog Dies

Express your sympathy with the right card, a donation in the pet's memory, even a pet bereavement basket.
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Max the Boxer passed this summer from cancer, and Buttercup the Pug died just last month of a blood disease. Both were beloved dogs of dear friends. I told the pet parents how sorry I was for their loss, but I now realize I did not do enough. With that in mind, I put together the following five ways to show you care when a friend’s dog dies.

A dog in golden sunshine.
Woman and Westie. Photography by Shutterstock.

1. Send a card, but not just any card

Skip the card aisle at your grocery store and hit Etsy instead for a handmade expression of sympathy. I love this plantable card from the Recycled Ideas shop. It has forget-me-not flower seeds embedded into the paper shape of a pup on the front, with planting instructions provided on the back.

The shop — run by Washingtonians Holly, Alasdair, and their two Newfies — will even personalize the card with the dog’s name or a special message at no additional charge. In the spring, your friend can peel off the dog shape and plant it in memory of the pet to enjoy pretty blue flowers for years to come.

2. Have a basket delivered

The right gift basket also can show your friend how much you care. Green Pet Gifts specializes in baskets filled with eco-friendly, healthy products sourced locally in Oregon.

The Deluxe Pet Bereavement Basket features items meant to comfort a pet parent during a difficult emotional time. Among the items in the basket are Tibetan pet prayer flags, a soy-wax memorial candle, a wooden photo frame with the words “Pawprints in heaven, pawprints on my heart,” and a tin of comforting loose-leaf Jasmine Pearl tea.

3. Give a small gift

A small token representing the dog who died makes a nice gesture. I adore this Guardian Angel Pin from Cloud K9. Plated with antique pewter and handcrafted to order, it could become a favorite piece of jewelry for your friend because of the memories it sparks. The company makes angel pins for more than 40 breeds.

4. Make a donation

Many animal organizations make it easy to donate money in memory of a beloved pet. For example, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals accepts donations online in the form of an eMemorial. You simply donate an amount via credit card, check, or PayPal, and the ASPCA will send a memorial card to your friend in recognition of the gift.

The Humane Society of the United States also accepts memorial donations online in the form of a Kindred Spirits gift. Your friend will receive a memorial card, and the dog’s name will be added to the HSUH Book of Kindred Spirits, located in the organization’s operations center in Maryland.

5. Plan play dates with other pets

You need not spend money to show how much you care about your friend’s loss. If the dog left behind a sibling, include the pup in fun activities with your pets. Whether you hit the park or simply one of your backyards, both your friend and the grieving sibling will appreciate the gesture. Had Sampson not been two states away, Spot, Dolly, and I would have paid our respects in person and provided comfort with a little playtime.

How do you express sympathy when a friend’s dog dies? Please share your experiences and advice in the comments!

8 thoughts on “5 Ways to Show You Care When a Friend’s Dog Dies”

  1. It’s really depressing when we see our friend or family member lose a pet. Because a pet is their most loyal friend. Maybe more loyal than us. But we should try our best to give them heartwarming gifts so that they know we care for them. So, you should check what we have to offer in this case – Giftideasclub

  2. When my friend’s dog died, I sent a flowering bush that she planted outside along with a pet stone I sent with her dogs name on it…she placed it under the plant.
    Our beloved dog died suddenly and I received a FB message telling me how sorry she was. Same with 2 other friends.
    This pain of losing Penny seems overwhelming.

  3. I have a family friend who lost their 10 year chihuahua about two weeks ago. I have a one year old chihuahua that I would like to introduce them to. Is it too soon to do that, or would it help in their grief?

  4. I lost my 16 year old dog seven weeks ago. I’ve had friends/acquaintances who’ve lost pets and I wish I’d read this article long before now. Only 2 people sent a card, recognizing how much hurt and grief I was experiencing. Of course, there were many condolences on Facebook, but there is something special and endearing about a hand written note from caring friends. Additionally, I have experienced waves of grief at different times and it’s almost as if nobody realizes this happens. We forget to reach out weeks and months afterwards. Thank you for your article. I intend on being much more attentive to my friends/acquaintances who lose their fur babies.

  5. After we lost a family pet, my daughters and I came up with the idea of sending pet loss postcards with a personal message from their beloved pet. The idea is that the pet is sending heartfelt words that would provide comfort to to your grieving friend. A close friend or loved one would likely know what their friend would want to hear.

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