As a designer and writer of sympathy cards, Mary helps you put into words what you're feeling.
Condolence Messages for the Loss of Pets
This past April, our dog Daisy died. She was an 8-year-old mongrel with a sweet personality and an annoyingly high-pitched bark. She loved swimming and would sooner swim across a lake than walk around it. Daisy was a farm dog and was treated as such. She slept outside and often would sneak over to the old woman who lives across the lake for a cuddle and the occasional bone.
Losing a Furry Companion Can Be Like Losing a Family Member
Although I didn't feel the need to be consoled when she died, the majority of people I know who have pets will need some kind words and acknowledgment of their loss. Her death got me thinking about what I would say to people I know whose dogs and cats are more like family to them.
For some people, losing a pet that has been part of the family for many years is almost like losing a family member or a well-loved friend. The loss of that pet will leave a hole in their heart, and the owner may experience real grief. This shouldn't be pushed aside as nonsense, because the pain they feel is real. Although you may not share their passion for animals to the same extent, you'll want to ensure you don't say the wrong thing and jeopardize your friendship at this sensitive time. If you feel that you might, a simple card with a condolence message may be the better option. No matter what you choose, reaching out to a friend will help them as they move through the stages of grief.
What Do You Write in a Sympathy Card for a Pet?
Whether you choose to call them on the phone or send a card or a text message, it can be difficult knowing what to say to ease a friend's sadness following the loss of their pet. I have put together some sympathy messages which can be used when pets die. These can be tailored as you see fit with the name and gender of the animal and perhaps a few simple words of your own.
Heartfelt Condolence Cards for Pet Loss
If you have a good local card shop, you may be able to find a suitable pet sympathy card. Some of these may depict an animal that looks similar to the one that recently died. Another option could be a tranquil view of woods, a beach, or clouds. If your friend used to take their dog for walks on the beach or in the woods, these would be appropriate. Many cards are left blank for you to write your own message. This is where these simple words of comfort and quotes about pets will help you.
Alternatively, if you know the pet is ill, buy the card early. By doing this, you can get a card on Zazzle, where I am a designer, that you can have printed with the animal's name and, if you have it, a photo. This will be a lasting keepsake for your friend whose pet has died.
Sympathy Messages for the Loss of Dogs or Cats
Here are a few messages that will work well on a pet sympathy card. Where possible, add the pet's name for a personal touch. If you don't know the correct spelling, it's likely your friend has used it previously on Facebook or other social media channels. Also, be sure to get the gender correct if the message includes any gendered pronouns.
A personal message is always well received and will be kindly remembered. Some of these ideas are specific to a certain type of pet, some are of a religious nature, and some are more generic.
Let's get started with the condolence messages which you can either use as they are or modify for your own situation.
- I am sorry for your loss. [Insert pet's name here] will be greatly missed.
- [Insert pet's name here] was such a wonderful [cat/dog], he/she was lucky to have found a family as loving as yours. Know that we are thinking of you.
- No truer word was said when they called dogs man's best friend. [Insert pet's name] was a special dog. May the fond memories you have ease the pain of grief for your family at this difficult time.
- Losing a loyal and true friend isn't easy. Please know that I'm thinking of you, and if you need to talk or share memories of him/her, please call me. I'm sorry for your loss.
- [Insert pet's name] left paw prints of love on everyone who knew [him/her].
Animal Sympathy Messages for Cards
- A devoted friend and beloved pet such as [insert animal's name] will always hold a special place in your heart. [He/she] is gone but never forgotten.
- Although others may not understand your grief, I do. Losing a pet such as [pet's name] can leave a hole in your heart and a void in your life. Know that I am thinking of you and offer my condolences. Call me if you want to chat or need a shoulder to cry on.
- [Insert pet's name] will always be by your side, watching over you. My sincere condolences to you and your family.
- We can't imagine the grief you feel after losing [insert pet's name]. [He/she] was a lovely [animal type] and will be missed by many.
- You were a fantastic pet mom and I know your family must be feeling deeply sad at this time. [Insert pet name] was a great [animal type], and his/her memory lives on through your memories.
- I was saddened to hear of the death of [insert pet's name]. No words of sympathy will ease your pain, but I want you to know that I am thinking of you in your time of grief. Call me when you feel ready to talk or simply need a hug or a shoulder to cry on.
- [Insert pet's name] has been an integral part of your life. Don't be ashamed to feel sadness—[he/she] was a special friend and the grief you feel is real and understandable. Take care of yourself, and allow yourself time to grieve.
- Sharing in your sorrow. [Insert pet's name] was a special [animal type] who will be missed by many. [He/she] had such a sweet personality.
- I was sorry to hear of your loss. I hope the pain in your heart will be eased by the beautiful memories you have of [insert pet's name].
- Although [insert pet's name] has passed, [he/she] will always be beside you in spirit, watching over you. So sorry for your loss.
- I was sorry to hear that [pet's name] had crossed the rainbow bridge. My condolences are with you and your family at this sad time.
- [insert dog's name here]—a true ray of sunshine—has been taken away. I am thinking of you at this difficult time.
- The love of a pet will always be remembered.
- [insert dog's name] was a loyal and faithful friend.
- Loving thoughts are sent your way, so sorry for the loss.
- [Pet's name] was such a fun-loving and sweet [animal type]. [His/her] passing has shocked us and I'm sure devastated you. I have such fond memories of [him/her]. Let's get together soon and catch up on things.
Note: The Rainbow Bridge is perhaps the most well-known and frequently referenced poem about the loss of a pet.
Thoughtful Pet Sympathy Gifts
Another kind way to console a grieving friend is with a pet sympathy gift. These gifts are easily customizable and can provide a lasting memory of a beloved pet. Here are several appropriate gifts to give someone who has just lost a pet.
- Memorial Stone
- Garden Statue
- Framed Photo
- Wind Chime
- Memorial Ornament
Religious Pet Sympathy Messages
- Our pets are like gifts from God—they come into our lives and bring us such joy without asking for anything in return. We were sorry to hear of your loss and extend our sympathies to you and your family. Your [dog/cat] will be greatly missed by all who knew [him/her].
- Our heartfelt prayers are with you as you come to terms with the loss of [insert pet's name]. [He/she] will be missed!
- I was so sorry to hear of [insert pet’s name]’s passing. My thoughts and prayers are with you in this difficult time.
- [Insert pet’s name]’s joyous spirit and loving demeanor touched everyone who met him, and [he/she] will live on in the hearts of many. May God give you strength and peace at this difficult time.
- I was deeply saddened to hear of your loss. [Insert pet’s name] was such a beautiful ray of light in the lives of all who knew [him/her]. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
- I know that [insert pet’s name]’s companionship was a blessing in your life and that [his/her] passing has been incredibly difficult for you. I pray that God will give you strength and continue to bless you in other ways.
- Please accept my heartfelt condolences for the loss of [insert pet’s name]. May the Lord comfort you and yours during this time of sorrow. Please accept my deepest condolences, and know that I am available to pray with you at any time.
- I have so many fond memories of [insert pet’s name], and learning of [his/her] passing was very distressing. May God restore your spirit and give you comfort in this difficult time. My deepest condolences.
Pet Sympathy Quotes
- "What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us." — Helen Keller
- "It came to me that every time I lose a dog, they take a piece of my heart with them, and every new dog that comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all of the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and as loving as they are." — Anonymous
Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.
— Roger Caras
- "If I have any beliefs about immortality it is that certain dogs I know will go to heaven, and very very few people." — James Thurber
- "I have sometimes thought of the final cause of dogs having such short lives and I am quite satisfied it is in compassion to the human race; for if we suffer so much in losing a dog after an acquaintance of ten or twelve years, what would it be if they were to live double that time? The misery of keeping a dog is his dying so soon. But, to be sure, if he lived for fifty years and then died, what would become of me? — Sir Walter Scott
Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened.
— Anatole France
- "If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans." — James Herriot
- "Those we love don’t go away, they walk beside us every day. Unseen, unheard, but always near, so loved, so missed, so very dear." — Anonymous
Poems About the Loss of a Beloved Pet
Four legs, a big heart,
it was love from the start.
Those we love are always close,
especially when we need them most.
In our hearts, they'll always be
young, happy and running free.
Although they're gone,
in our memory, they'll live on.
- "I Dreamed of Rainbow Bridge" by Ron Tranmer
- "Lend Me a Pup" by Joy LaCaille
- "A Dog Has Died" by Pablo Neruda
Lord Byron's Dog Boatswain
If you think that the love of pets is something new, it isn't. I used to live in Nottinghamshire, England, and at Newstead Abbey (which is located there) is an epitaph written by the poet Lord Byron (1788–1824) for his dog Boatswain. His dog was a Newfoundland dog, and the quote below can be seen on the dog's tomb. Newstead Abbey was Lord Byron's ancestral home.
Near this Spot
are deposited the Remains of one
who possessed Beauty without Vanity,
Strength without Insolence,
Courage without Ferocity,
and all the virtues of Man without his Vices.
This praise, which would be unmeaning Flattery
if inscribed over human Ashes,
is but a just tribute to the Memory of
Boatswain, a Dog
who was born in Newfoundland May 1803
and died at Newstead Nov. 18th, 1808
When some proud Son of Man returns to Earth,
Unknown to Glory, but upheld by Birth,
The sculptor’s art exhausts the pomp of woe,
And storied urns record who rests below.
When all is done, upon the Tomb is seen,
Not what he was, but what he should have been.
But the poor Dog, in life the firmest friend,
The first to welcome, foremost to defend,
Whose honest heart is still his Master’s own,
Who labours, fights, lives, breathes for him alone,
Unhonoured falls, unnoticed all his worth,
Denied in heaven the Soul he held on earth –
While man, vain insect! hopes to be forgiven,
And claims himself a sole exclusive heaven.
Oh man! thou feeble tenant of an hour,
Debased by slavery, or corrupt by power –
Who knows thee well, must quit thee with disgust,
Degraded mass of animated dust!
Thy love is lust, thy friendship all a cheat,
Thy tongue hypocrisy, thy heart deceit!
By nature vile, ennobled but by name,
Each kindred brute might bid thee blush for shame.
Ye, who behold perchance this simple urn,
Pass on – it honours none you wish to mourn.
To mark a friend’s remains these stones arise;
I never knew but one – and here he lies.
I hope this article has given you some ideas and guidance to ease the grief of your friend who has recently lost a pet. For some pet owners, it can be a devastating time. Others may choose to get another pet to ease the pain.
Whatever your friend decides to do, try to be supportive of their choices. Everyone handles grief differently and it may take some time before your friend seems back their old self.
If you have other sympathy messages you have used or received comfort from, please post them in the comment section for others to see.
Thanks for reading.
What Would You Do?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: How can I ease my daughter's pain in regards to the death of our dog? She is studying in another continent currently.
Answer: It is a difficult situation, and I'm sorry for your loss.
I believe your daughter will have a circle of friends who can help her through the grieving process. It is likely most of her friends of the same age, (I'm assuming she is at university), have also experienced this.
If she has difficulty in coping with the news, most good universities have on campus counselors. I believe she is likely to be more concerned how the rest of the family is dealing with the loss of your dog.
Question: Is there a word to identify the loss of a pet? For example, when a woman loses her husband she becomes a widow and a man becomes a widower.
Answer: You've asked an interesting question, but in my research, I haven't found a specific word that would represent a person after the loss of a pet.
© 2017 Mary Wickison
Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on August 21, 2020:
I am sorry for your loss. You were a blessing to him, as I'm sure he was to you.
Sasha Sawyer on August 21, 2020:
I lost my wonderful dog Playful today. He was 9.5 years old. He was a stray whom I rescued, but it happened in such a way that another dog of mine got friendly with him on the road and brought him home. He lived with me ever since. Stray dogs are strong and don't display any symptoms until they are actually very sick, which is what happened to him. He became ill about 1.5 months ago and we found out it was kidney failure.Despite the grim prognosis, he lived and ate all his meals although he walked slower. The last 24 hours his condition worsened, but I'm thankful the suffering was not prolonged. I'm crying today, I miss him!
Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on June 02, 2020:
I'm sorry to hear about the passing of Max. Some people cope better than others with losing a pet. For some, it is like losing a friend or family member and the grief can last a considerable time.
Others handle grief differently and the event can pass without others being aware of it.
Thanks for highlighting the difference.
Beverly on June 02, 2020:
Last April I lost my best friend Max he was a little Yorkie but you wouldn't know
Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on March 17, 2020:
I am sorry to hear of your recent loss. The age of your dogs shows the care and love they were given.
It is heartwarming to hear your special connection to dogs.
Thank you for sharing your story.
debbie lariscy on March 16, 2020:
Three weeks ago I lost my mini doxie (a rescue). Not sure exact age, have had her 6 years and I think she was around 15. I'm comforted that she died in her sleep. I've had two Toy Fox Terriers and one was 4 1/2 pounds and lived till 21 and the other was 5 1/2 pounds and died at 17. They both kept a good quality of life till the end. I never had children, so they were a pleasure to nurture, love and take care of. And they gave me all the love they had. I have a senior dog now, my Father's last dog when he passed , I cherish her for giving him such love and now me. I will always have a dog, as long as I can care for it. " Dogs lives are too short. Their only fault, really." - Agnes S Turnbull. Blessing to all dogs and their humans who love them so.
Leah on May 17, 2018:
Thanks for posting these thoughts and sharing stories. It helps.
Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on June 14, 2017:
Our new dog Tess, seems to know her job as a watch dog and walks down to lock up the gate and doesn't back down if people arrive until we tell her it's okay.
As a pet ages, I think it is easier to cope with their passing. You know they have had a good life and although it is not easy letting go, we can prepare ourselves for the void they leave.
One of my friends here is hoping to find a puppy to bring it up to speed as both of her dogs are now about 9. She knows they will soon be passing.
I hope with these few suggestions in my article, people will be able to offer some comfort without sounding condescending or callous.
Thanks for reading and your comment.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 13, 2017:
Your Daisy looked like a honey of a dog and I know you miss her. I see from reading the comments that you have given another dog a good home with lots of room to roam.
It is definitely hard losing beloved pets. We have had to part with them all too often. As diogenes mentioned, their lives are short as compared to ours therefore bringing great happiness when they are gracing us with their presence and great sorrow when they die.
Right now we have an older dog and an older cat. We can see the handwriting on the wall so-to-speak and are just enjoying each and every day to the fullest with them.
You have given many good suggestions as to what to say when others lose their pets. Thanks!
Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on June 07, 2017:
Yes, comments such as, "you can get another dog" or "it was just a dog" aren't helpful and are downright hurtful. Kindness doesn't cost anything and the world would be a better place if people used it more often.
I am pleased you like Byron's poem, how lovely to think that the love of dogs has gone on for so long.
Great to hear from you, Nell.
Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on June 07, 2017:
Yes, it can be difficult. Before I had kids I was so attached to our dogs we took them to the UK with us. There they were in quarantine for 6 months and lived their lives there. Their passing was hard to take.
I know many people who have been devastated when their pets died. That is when a friend, is really needed to help ease their grief. For those who don't understand that strong bond, it can be difficult to show support even if they are a good friend.
Thanks for your comment and kind words.
Nell Rose from England on June 07, 2017:
Sad topic, and when I lost my dog I sobbed bucket loads! so anybody who had a kind thought would be awesome in my eyes. love that poem by Lord Byron, he must have loved his dog!
Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on June 07, 2017:
I'm sorry about the loss of your dog, Mary. Although the loss of a pet affects people differently, it can sometimes be a very difficult experience. Pets are members of the family for some people. Thank you for sharing your helpful ideas and the poem.
Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on June 07, 2017:
I am sure as a counselor you know that grief can be all consuming, even if it is for a pet. Being there for someone can often help more than they know.
Regarding Byron's ode to his dog, I have always wanted to share that since I first read it. I think he put into words, feelings many of us have for our pets.
Thanks for your support.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on June 07, 2017:
This is my favorite: " Four legs, a big heart, it was love from the start." Thanks for these wonderful suggestions of grief expressions. What a powerful tribute from Lord Byron! He really loved that Boatswain.
Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on June 06, 2017:
It can be hard to let go of them especially when you've had a dog for so many years.
I think it is easier to share feelings with those who have lost a pet when we have experienced it. The feeling of grief is real and I'm sure it helps if they just have someone who will listen to how they are feeling and share memories.
Sometimes people just can't share in someone's grief, although they might be close. In this case, I think just a simple card at least will show you're supportive.
Thanks for your comment.
Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on June 06, 2017:
What lovely sentiments to share when this happens. Sorry to hear about the loss of your girl in April! We had to say goodbye to our 10-1/2 year-old golden girl last month.
I totally think that sending messages of sympathy are appropriate for animals. They are cherished family members. Thanks so much for the ideas for when I need to send these messages to grieving friends!
Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on June 06, 2017:
I had many pleasant walks around Newstead Abbey as my in-laws lived within the abbey walls.
Lord Byron was a lad, did you know he used to put his staff on a boat in one of the abbey's lakes and fire cannons at them? He obviously loved his dog more than people.
You've touched on another favourite, James Herriot. I have a book upstairs. I should re-read it, I love the simplistic way of life he captures.
I know people love their small dogs equally as much but I always have a soft spot for larger ones. We had a Brazilian mastiff and he was a lovely dog.
My sister has an ageing dog and after he dies, she will be on her own, I am concerned how she will deal with that. Besides the security of having a dog, there is also the companionship they provide.
Thanks for reading and reminding me about my favourite Yorkshire vet.
Mary Wickison (author) from Brazil on June 06, 2017:
I know it can be upsetting for some and I think those feelings need to be acknowledged. Sometimes they just need to share their memories or have a shoulder to cry on.
We have replaced Daisy with another dog, which looks similar, albeit a bit larger. She had been owned by a French family who had a pizza parlour here in town but returned to France. Now, the dog has 8 acres to run about on and she seems to be settling in well.
Glad to hear your weather has finally turned.
diogenes from UK and Mexico on June 06, 2017:
Thank you for bringing Byron's magisterial poem to the hubbers and others. It is, in my opinion, one of the best poems in English ever written and certainly the most endearing regarding the loss of a pet. I had a Newfoundland once, and they can steal your heart for all the reasons Byron spoke of. I also had a mini Schnauzer with all the marvelous qualities in a small package.
Many people, especially those left alone, do miss their pet as much as any human family member, and never forget them.
As the Yorkshire vet, James Herriot, bemoaned, they just don't live long enough when compared with our own span, so ownership is bound to bring great happiness and great sorrow.
Lovely and thoughtful article.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 06, 2017:
It's an interesting topic, Mary. We are close to our animals; we even mourn, a bit, the loss of a quail or a chicken, but I, too, don't feel the need for consolation. Having said that, I know many friends who are deeply affected by the loss of a pet....most notably the loss of a dog or cat...so these suggestions, I'm sure, are helpful.
I hope you are enjoying your day. Our summer finally arrived, reminding us all why we love this portion of the country.