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How to Find Peace of Mind After Putting Your Dog to Sleep

You are normal if you’re filled with regret and guilt after putting your dog to sleep. How do you find peace of mind? You can’t change the past, and deep down you know you made the right decision. It was time for your dog to stop living, but you can’t live without your dog.

For many dog owners, “pet loss grief” is compounded by guilt and regret after they put their dogs to sleep. This is because our dogs are a huge part of our lives, every minute of the day. And, our dogs often change who we are. That’s why finding peace of mind after putting our dogs to sleep is so difficult.

Our pets lead us from patience to love, and then to loss….but it is always a journey worth taking,” is the inscription on the Paw in Hand Devotion Garden Stone – a keepsake that is a lovely way to remember a beloved dog. Finding peace of mind after putting your dog to sleep isn’t about suppressing memories or avoiding the pain. Peace of mind comes when you walk through the grief and guilt until you reach the light on the other side.


Here’s a reader’s question on How to Deal With Guilty Feelings After Your Dog’s Death: “I had to put two of my dogs down and it was the hardest thing I think I’ve ever had to do. One of my dogs we’ve had for 17 years. Saying goodbye was unbearable. She was blind and going deaf. She would go to the bathroom on herself and it was hard to see my dog suffering but what was worse was putting her down! My other dog was 12 years old and he had arthritis really bad. I was there as they were going to sleep and saw the life leave their eyes. I crawled into a ball just bawling in the middle of the room. I am suffering from nightmares now. The guilt I feel is unbearable. How do I find peace of mind after putting a dog to sleep?”

There are no easy answers.

Finding Peace of Mind After Putting Your Dog to Sleep

It’s sad, but true: saying good-bye to a dog you love is one of the most difficult things you’ll ever experience. Grieving pet loss is surprisingly painful and difficult for people — even dog owners who thought they were prepared to put their dogs to sleep.

I can’t offer you peace of mind, but I can share several ideas for coping with grief, guilt and pain of putting a dog to sleep.

1. Understand why peace of mind is hard to find after your dog’s death

Putting a dog to sleep is devastating because they are woven into our daily lives. My dogs go on most of my errands with me – to the bank, library, church, and even my vacations. They’re almost always by my side. That’s why it’s hard to know how to find peace of mind. After putting a dog to sleep, we lose a crucial part of our lives. Losing a constant companion is like losing a limb.

And, we’re deeply attached to our dogs on an emotional level. Dogs are a constant source of unconditional love, loyalty, physical affection, and laughter. They’re vulnerable and authentic, dependent and invaluable. Putting a dog down is like shutting off a light that has burned brightly in our hearts and lives…and this, too, is why it’s hard to know how to find peace of mind.

If you feel responsible for putting a dog to sleep, you may find it helpful to read Dealing With Guilt When You Caused Your Dog’s Death helpful.

2. Write an eulogy or tribute for your dog

How to Find Peace of Mind After Putting Your Dog to Sleep
Dog Memorial Stone

An eulogy – a speech or piece of writing that highly praises a person who has just died – can be one of the most healing ways to find peace of mind. After you put your dog to sleep, you may feel regret and guilt. Writing an eulogy can help you move from regret to loving, kind memories of your dog. The very act of writing will help your brain process the shock of your dog’s death and the pain of deciding to put your dog down. You may not find it easy to put your feelings into words, but the emotional expression will slowly calm and soothe your spirit and soul. This will help you find peace of mind.


A Pet Memorial Stone is a beautiful reminder of the dog you loved and lost. A beautiful, touching memory can help you find peace of mind by reminding you that your dog is sleeping now. Resting in peace somewhere else, but leaving paw prints on your heart forever.

3. Express yourself fully and creatively in your dog’s eulogy

How do you write a tribute or eulogy for your dog? Answer some or all of these questions:

  • Who was your dog? Think of his personality, bad and good habits, likes, dislikes, pet peeves, quirks, strengths, weaknesses.
  • What was your dog’s favorite toy or game? Maybe it’s napping or barking at squirrels, like my dog.
  • Describe how your dog was part of your daily life. What will you miss most? Is there anything you won’t miss about your dog?
  • Was your dog’s death a surprise, or were you prepared to put your dog to sleep? How did the circumstances of your dog’s death affect your ability to find peace of mind?
  • How did you adopt or find your dog? Tell the story of bringing your dog home.
  • How did your dog change your life?

It should take several hours to answer these questions! Finding peace of mind after putting your dog to sleep isn’t one-stop shop. Don’t try to write the whole thing in a single session; give yourself at least a week or two to work through your dog’s eulogy. Allow yourself to re-experience the grief and guilt of putting your dog to sleep. Experiencing your pain hurts, but it’s how you’ll find peace of mind. Walk through your feelings of shock, devastation, anger, and despair without trying to run away or hide.

4. Allow yourself as much time as you need to grieve

You will eventually begin to find peace of mind – which is not the same as remembering your dog’s death with joy! Peace of mind means you accept the decision you made to put your dog down, and you know you made the best decision you could at the time.

Different people take different amounts of time to grieve. Expect your grief to take as long as it takes. And, expect your grief to come and go in stages. You may feel overwhelmed with grief suddenly, in unexpected places. You may feel an overwhelming peace of mind when you least expect it! Putting your dog down is a life-changing event. Getting “over” your grief is not an overnight romp in the park.

You might also consider planning a short memorial service for your dog. Read Pet Sympathy Gifts to Ease the Pain of a Dog or Cat’s Death for ideas on how to say goodbye.

5. Say goodbye in dribs and drabs

How to Know if You Should Put Your Dog to Sleep

In Farewell, Friend: A Gentle Guide to Saying Goodbye to Your Dog share the most valuable, comforting advice I found when I was dealing with the loss of my own dog, Jazz.

Writing this ebook helped me find peace of mind because I explored a wide variety of different ways to grieve the loss of a beloved family dog. I interviewed veterinarians, grief counselors, and pet experts for the best ways to grieve a dog’s death. I also included stories from real pet owners who coped with guilt and grief in sometimes surprising ways.

You’ll find this ebook most helpful if you read it in “dribs and drabs.” Reading two or three stories and tips at a time will give you peace of mind through a slow, steady process of acceptance and self-forgiveness. You’ll learn that the pain of putting a dog to sleep does ease – especially if you try different suggestions for grieving and healing. If you give yourself time and space to actively grieve (as opposed to avoiding the pain of putting a dog to sleep), you may even find yourself wondering if you should open your heart to love another dog.

6. Bow your head and lift your heart

True peace of mind – even if you’re facing something as painful as putting your dog to sleep – can only come through God. We humans don’t have the power it takes to “will” peace of mind…we can only be filled by God’s peace. Resilience and healing only comes through a strong spiritual connection with something bigger and greater than ourselves. And that something is God, through the power of the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ.

Your dog was a gift, a brief blessing, a glimpse of heaven on earth. May you hold on to the joy of knowing your dog, and surrender to the peace of mind only God can give you. May you be filled with faith, freedom, and love.

I pray for healing and peace that surpasses all understanding to come into your life. May your heart be comforted and your soul lifted as you bow your head to your Creator. He loves you. He wants you to have peace of mind. He created you, and He created your dog. God knows how close you and your dog were. Your dog’s soul is resting in His perfect place, and your dog’s spirit will never leave you.

How to Find Peace of Mind After Putting a Dog to Sleep
Finding Peace of Mind After Putting Your Dog Down

I welcome your thoughts on grief, healing, and finding peace of mind after putting your dog to sleep. Writing about you, your dog and your story can help you process your thoughts and feelings. Read through the comments below; it’ll be sad, but you’ll see that you are not alone.

For more tips on how to find peace of mind after putting a dog to sleep, read Healing Your Heart After Losing Your Dog.

Take good care of yourself, for you are a child of God. And that means you’re worth taking good care of.

In peace and passion,

Laurie

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18 thoughts on “How to Find Peace of Mind After Putting Your Dog to Sleep”

  1. My 2 and a half year old Australian shepherd is going blind she bumps into everything can t walk. countless trips to the vet eye ointments eye drop s antibiotics plus many expensive tests done by the vet. She won’t eat she won’t take her meds she’s started peeing pooping everywhere in my place she hides under my bed all the time throwing up she’s stopped pooping. Its a sad nightmare she seems to get better only to take twelve steps back she won’t sleep on my bed next to me anymore she seems to not care about me she can’t see her favorite toys to run and chase I miss my wild hyper Aussie nellie girl she is depressed and anxious I am so torn between keeping her alive and letting her go putting her to sleep its constant worry she does not seem okay and sleeps 98% of the time her whole personality has changed a once happy girl who loved liked all people and dogs has become a sad scared distressed anxious depressed dog barking snapping dog I can’t stop crying so unfair I’ve had her since a puppy ? her eyes are in pain and eye treatment are proving futile please pray for nellie and me. As I know her i must so the right thing her quality of life is not good

  2. I have recently put my beloved pet down unexpectedly. He was the joy of our lives. We had him since he was 3 weeks old, and only lived to 4 1/2 years. He had a sudden unexpected illness, which I know he would have not survived, but the choice was given to me to either spend thousands of dollars I didn’t have to see if they could help him or put him down. The guilt I am feeling is tearing me apart, I have never felt my heart so heavy. I have not been able to get past the grief and anger of my decision. Everyone tells me I made the right decision, but it still hurts. he was a gentle giant, 200 pounds of loving fun. we miss him dearly.

  3. Six months have passed, loosing my Deedee in September 7 2018, even after preparing for his leave, I am still crying today. He had to leave, his body was failing due to kidney failure at 15 years and 9 months old. I adopted him when he was 8, I thought I was getting better but I am not. I think of him every day. I recently adopted a 3 year old dog from a shelter, a different breed as I missed having a dog, although I was hesitant. he is so sweet and loving towards me but I feel guilty towards him. I love the new dog but I feel hesitant to keep him and /or to regime him. Not only the feeling of not being ready both emotionally and physically because of the energy it took to care for my dog almost 24/24. I feel as if I need some time to heal properly and take care of myself without having to care for anyone. I have 2 cats of 9 and 10 years and feel guilty that I don’t spend much time with them, because the dog needs more attention and my focus shifts towards him. I feel lost as I don’t know if I should rehome the dog or not, I am dealing with a few negative traits he has ie: he pees in the house if left unsupervised and/or when it is too cold outside. He is reactive towards my roommate for no reason since the beginning, he ‘s afraid of him, he barks at him and runs away to go hide in my bedroom. I keep thinking that I want the same breed of my deceased dog and that I want to adopt again sometimes in the future but do not want 2 dogs, it will be a handful with 2 cats and possibly big vet and feeding bills. Now I have no idea anymore what decision to make. I love the new dog but feel bad to leave him long hours alone during work. I worked from home most of the time when I had Deedee. I feel bad leaving the new one alone and I need some me time when I come home something I haven’t had the past 8 years… I am also feeling immensely guilty about rehoming him because he is very attached to me, but I also see how he spends his days sleeping and this not a life any dog should have especially a young dog of 3 years. It is quite a dilemma I am going through

  4. Dear all,
    You have my deepest sympathies. Saying goodbye to a beloved dog isn’t just hard – it changes your heart and home forever! It takes time to grieve and let go, find peace and joy after losing a furry companion who gave you nothing but love and loyalty. And a few messes, too 🙂
    May your heart heal, your spirits revive, and your soul find peace. Your dog is resting in peace…and I believe we’ll be reunited with our beloved furry friends after we, too, leave this earth. And we will be filled with joy and more love than we ever knew in this life!
    In sympathy,
    Laurie

  5. October 25th I had to put my 16 year old Chihuahua down who was sick. I also have a cat whose 18. Losing my Montana hurts so much! I cry nearly constantly, I hold and sleep with her teddy bear. I’ve come to the point where I don’t hold her pink bunny. I have no family. All I have is my cat and my girl. I’m scared weothout her as she was a great watch dog. I just got hit by a car and going through that which makes losing my girl worse as I can’t get her comfort. Everything has fallen apart since my girl died. I have no more money so my bills are piling up, I get hit woth a car as a pedestrian, my cat isn’t as affectionate to me like he was before Montana died. I took little movies of her and she looked so miserable. I recorded a show on my tablet where my girl barked and I cry missing her. My cat is 18 and will be shattered more when he goes and I have no one! Having no car or money I can’t get another girl to raise and carry on Montana’s legacy and I cry more. I call her name and ball. I have trouble eating and my stress being hit in the arm with a car doesn’t help my stress!

    Montana isn’t here to make me feel better and despite having my cat I still feel alone.

    1. Dear Lisa,
      I am so sorry for your loss. It’s been so hard for you, so sad and painful to learn how to live without your beloved dog. You’re also dealing with a pile of other stressful life problems…and everything just seems to add up to one big ball of pain, doesn’t it? I wish I had the right words, words to give you peace of mind and hope.
      Losing a dog is one of the saddest things a person can face. Give yourself time to grieve your loss. Be gentle with your mind, body and spirit as you adjust to a new and very different life at home. Pamper and comfort yourself in healthy ways: with good sleep, healthy food, fresh air, and moments of love with your cat!
      Have you signed up for my weekly Blossom Tips newsletter? I share encouragement and hope every Wednesday…here’s the link:
      https://eepurl.com/ca2mJr
      I hope you sign up, and stay in touch. You’ll get my email address, and I know it’ll help you feel better.
      With love and sympathy,
      Laurie

  6. We just put our baby boy Conkers to sleep yesterday. I also buried my mum this week, but the grief I have for my dog is unreal. The physical pain in my chest is like nothing else I.’ve ever felt. He was coming 14 and we rescued him at 8 weeks old. He grew up with my two sons through their teenage years and just loved us unconditionally, as we did him. He got ill very quickly at New Year starting with a bleed, anaemia, and just really out of sorts. Back and forth to the vets for blood test and check ups and then he had to have his spleen removed. There was a tumor which was cancer and he had spots on his liver, but he also had a condition where his immune system was attacking his blood and platlettes. He was given steroids which made him really sick and he would stop eating. He couldn’t stand he was so weak we assume due to the low bloods and then it seemed that his bladder stopped working right because he couldn’t control it. It was heartbreaking to watch our baby suffer although through it all he never made a sound. I.m now questioning if we did enough for him, did we ask the right questions, try enough drugs and was he ill for longer than we noticed. Because although he was 14 he still jumped about and acted like a pup.
    So yesterday at the end, we held him and told him if was the best dog ever, that we loved him millions forever, but I really feel like i.m never going to get over it and i,’ve cried like i never thought possible????

  7. I didn’t think I would be affected like I am but I am having a hard time adjusting to our pug named Champ being gone. Friday, October 13, 2017 we had to put him down. I am extremely sad and my heart is broken. I have not been able to sleep, I just lay in the bed and toss and turn and cry. He took a piece of my heart with him on Friday. It’s crazy but the house seems weirdly empty without him here. We got Champ when he was 6 weeks old and he lived to be 14. He still had that “pug” spirit that was strong but his body just wasn’t. He had severe arthritis and two tumors that were cancerous. Champ was in a lot of pain and I know putting him down was what needed to be done. I just hope he knew how much he was loved in those last moments as we gathered around him as his heart took its last beat. He is miss greatly!

  8. My bright little light of life, Lucy, is gone. I am heartbroken and so sad. She was the integral part of my life for 10 years. So much grief in my heart. She was a Schnoodle that my mom bought for me, and named, one year before mom passed away. Lucy laid on a chair near my mom’s hospital bed in living room watching over mom in the days prior to her death. During this time, Lucy didn’t bark when people knocked on the door. Note: Lucy always barked when someone came to house. Lucy was a bundle of life, love, light, gentleness, and fun. I’m having a very difficult time without my love bug.

  9. i had a puppy . He was with me since he was born. yesterday (7/04/2017) he died in a car accident.He was the most happy pup I have ever seen. He always waits for me infront of my house gate. As he was so young i use to feed him by my hands after he finish eating he always licks my hands and tries to reach to me by standing on his 2 limbs, But now my dearest one is no more. I hope he is living in a peaceful place where he is happy. I love you and i will always miss you though 2 months is not that much but for me those 2 months is equivalent to years.
    And if you are also going through this kind of situation … i hope you will be fine someday 🙂

  10. My sweet winnie left me unexpectedly yesterday she was my best friend in the whole world not to mention she was also my daughters best friend. And i dont know what to do. Neither of us can’t stop crying. I need some help with this. she was my baby girl, i was with her 97% of the time for 2 years. My heart is crushed.

    1. Laura Hollenbacher

      Natasha, My sweet girl left my two days ago. Like you, I’m devastated. I’m numb and completely out of it. I can’t stop thinking of her and how sudden her death was. I hope I did the right thing. I will pray for you and I hope you find the peace you are looking for. I’m so sorry for your loss. I understand your pain. I’m feeling it too.
      Laura

  11. My parents are going to sell my dog I felt so sad because she is everything j have I cant live without her whenever I come back home j call out her name and she wriggled her tail this is the most hard decision for me I am still young I tried to convince my parents but they don’t agreed but I can’t live without her she is the only one who accompany me I am not scare of anything because of her I am so sad I read your article and tried but I just can’t stop crying

  12. We lost our 11.5 year old lab coach 4 days ago. My heart is broken I feel so guilty for all the missed love I should have taken time to give him. He couldn’t walk on wednesday morning but my husband and son were gone he wasn’t crying just resting so I laid with him all day until they were home and then we took him to the vet to be put to sleep. We stayed with him the whole time and had him cremated. I have his box of ashes in the living room with his favorite toy and a picture of him. I feel like my heart will never mend. I miss him. I cry all the time. I just want one more day. He was to special not to be with God but I just want him with me. I hope God takes this pain soon and I can think of him with happiness. I hope he knows how much I loved him. Thanks for your article I am trying to use all the tips.

  13. My Dog max was poisoned by unknown people of my community using a powerful weed killer. A day later we saw that he came in the kitchen under the table where he usually goes when something is wrong, he looked sad, weak and like he was suffering, he loved deli meats such as bacon and bologna we offered him piece and he declined which was strange we decided to take him to the vet where we had to lift him because he was too weak, he received shots and antibiotics and the vet said we had to hope and pray for his wellness. Today 17/5/16 Max died at shortly after 8am and he was laid to rest the same day. I had him for 10 years and i loved every moment. RIP max

  14. I had to put my sweet dog, Henry down today. He suffered a spine injury and the medications were not helping. He went from walking and jumping on Thursday to having to be carried because his back legs were not working on Sunday. He also lost the ability to go to the bathroom. I know it was the best decision for him. He was in pain, his quality of life fanished overnight and as someone who loved him so very much I could not let him exist that way. My heart is broken. He was just 4 years old. I pray God takes this pain away. I have peace knowing he is no longer suffering.

  15. Thanks for your thoughts, crur. Yes, I agree – not everyone has faith in God, and this article isn’t for all dog owners. I’m just trying to help people with faith learn how to find peace of mind after putting a dog to sleep.

  16. Lots of helpful tips on how to find peace of mind after putting a dog to sleep, however, not everyone has faith in god or religion. Advice needs to be more general and non faith based. I switched off when the god factor was mentioned.