Over the weekend, the White House released some sad news. Champ, one of President Joe Biden’s dogs, passed away.  If you wanted to express your feelings to the Bidens– or to anyone  — what are some of the accepted things to say when pets die?

Sympathy Card

As you would do with the passing away of a family member, the go-to option is the sympathy card.

I found a very helpful article in Parade magazine. It lists 105 condolence phrasings for dogs, cats, and pets in general.

Some of them are:

“[Pet’s name] was such a wonderful [cat/dog/bird/gerbil], he/she was lucky to have found a family as loving as yours. Know that we are thinking of you.”

“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.”

“Our pets are members of our family. The loss of an amazing dog like [pet name] can’t be easy, and I’m here if you need comforting in this time of grief.”

“Sending you all so much love and strength to get through this loss. Our dogs become part of our families and I know how much [pet name] meant to you. My condolences.”

‘“Everybody who has ever owned cats understands how easy it is to love them. And I know how much you loved and adored [cat’s name]”

“How can one tiny animal contain so much personality?! Their little quirks make each cat unique and irreplaceable, which is why losing a beloved cat is so difficult. I am so sorry for your loss.”

The key thing from these examples is to let them know you understand that the loss to them was not just of a pet but a family member.

You will also notice great care is made in many of these condolences to refer to the pet by his or her name. 

Offer to Do Something When Pets Die

You may also feel sending a sympathy card for when pets die is not enough. There is another action that may help your friends with the grieving process.

You can offer to donate to a pet-themed charity or pet sanctuary. In your name. In their name. In the pet’s name. Your friends will especially appreciate this gesture if they originally got the pet from a pet shelter.

Things Not to Say When Pets Die

You may struggle to find the right words to express your grief over the loss of a pet. And that is understandable. But most definitely avoid using certain phrases.

  • Referring back to the suggestion of sympathy cards, don’t make this about yourself. A shared experience might seem like a good bonding idea. Avoid comparing their mourning to any “similar pet loss” you had in the past. This could make them feel like you are minimizing their loss.
  • Don’t say “You’ll feel better soon.” Sure, time heals all wounds. But right now they can’t accept that the pain and grief will ever go away.  Instead, you should acknowledge their grief and offer sympathy.
  • Don’t suggest getting another pet right away will magically “ease their pain.” If/when they feel ready, that’s when they will look into inviting another pet into their homes. 

The loss of a pet means your friends will be going through grief and mourning. A home once filled with barking, meowing, chirping, etc, will be coldly solemn. Give them the warmth of your support.

(What type of content should your business website blog offer? Advice rather than product promotion. Be a valuable info resource rather than an irritating source of sales pitches. For example, if you own a pet shop or veterinary practice, then you should share this type of content. Contact me if interested.)