Your Pet’s Death is Not Your Fault

One of the most popular videos on my YouTube channel is Dealing with Grief Over the Loss of a Pet. I made the video more than two years ago and since then it has received 9,700 views, and approximately 350 comments.  I’ll post the video at the bottom of this blog.

I have replied to every single one of those comments. And I’m not lying or exaggerating when I say that while replying to about 99% of them, I did so with tears rolling down my cheeks.

Losing a pet is absolutely terrible no matter how it happens.

All of the comments on that video offered a description of sadness, despair, loss, depression, and even people who felt absolutely hopeless about how they were going to go on without their beloved pet.

The video offers several coping strategies to help people to deal with the loss of their pet. The best advice I think anyone can give is to stay busy and allow time to pass.  There is just no way to solve how severe the pain is when it first happens. We really don’t have any other choice but to bite the bullet and wait it out. It’s only after some time has passed that we can begin to calm down and heal.

pet lossIt’s Never Your Fault

I am always extremely sad when someone says they think their pet’s death was their fault. I’m sad for two reasons:  one is that I know what that feels like. I, too, have had instances where I’ve lost a dog or a cat and afterwords thought that I could have done something to prevent it. Had I done this, had I done that…

The second reason it upsets me is because I know that it is not the person’s fault. If their cat was sick and they didn’t realize it, and if they only would’ve realized it sooner and taken them to the vet, maybe the cat would have survived. If the pet wasn’t eating and they were so busy in their daily life that they didn’t realize that the food bowl wasn’t going down as quickly as usual.  If the pet got dehydrated and they didn’t realize they weren’t drinking enough water. If they mistakenly left the front door open and their pet ran out and was hit by a car. I’ve even heard stories about someone’s cat falling out the window of a multi-story apartment building.


But the thing is, we are human beings. We make mistakes. We don’t know everything. Seriously…you don’t know until you know.

We’re all doing the very best we can. No one, not one of us, has ever gotten up in the morning and said to ourselves, “I think I’ll hurt my pet today.” Seriously.  No one ever has the intention of harming their pet in any way.

Do we make mistakes as pet owners? Yes. Just like we make mistakes in every other area of our lives.

But let me present you with these thoughts:

First, you cannot possibly know everything. Cats, for example, will go to great lengths to hide their illness. It’s one of their survival instincts. So as a cat owner, most likely if your cat is having a health problem, they’re going to be quite ill before they show any signs of it. You cannot blame yourself for that.

A young dog, for example, just like a human toddler, will run and play with a fever of 103. It’s not until they drop that we realize they have that high a fever. They’ll keep going and keep going, even if they are sick.

You can’t blame yourself for not having magical powers to see everything.  And you also can’t blame yourself for not being a veterinarian, and not knowing absolutely everything about pets.

I’ll leave you with a thought that has made an enormous difference for me in my life.

I lost my mother approximately 17 years ago. She died from cancer, over a seven-month period, in my home, and in my care. Even though 17 years have passed, I still struggle with guilt. All the same things we’re talking about here; what if I had done this, what if I had done that, what if I had seen the signs sooner, the list goes on and on.

So I am constantly looking for books, or articles or YouTube videos trying to find ways for me to cope with that guilt because it’s difficult. Even 17 years later.

The best advice I have received thus far regarding feeling guilty over the loss of a loved one, whether it be a person or a pet is this:  If you are feeling guilty…in my case, still feeling guilty after 17 years…then that alone speaks to your character. Just the fact that you’re watching a YouTube video trying to get help with coping with the loss of your pet. The fact that you are crying over the loss of your pet. The fact that you are devastated that your pet is no longer with you.  The fact that you are actually blaming yourself and feeling guilty about the way your pet passed.

This speaks to your character.

I think as pet owners we have to cut ourselves some slack. We do the best we can, based on our resources, based on our schedules and other life demands, And based on whatever amount of experience and knowledge we have at any given moment of our lives. The longer you own pets, the more experiences you will have, and the more you will know.

You don’t know until you know.

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If You’ve Lost a Pet

Read my article, Grieving the Loss of Your Pet – Coping Tips and Comfort, or watch the video below:

2 thoughts on “Your Pet’s Death is Not Your Fault”

  1. just put my lucky down yesterday it breaks my heart it feels like my heart is ripped apart I’ll miss him so much I took him in the car thinking he was coming back home with us we ended taking him to a emergency hospital he was my moms therapy dog he had stage 4 diabetes he wasn’t holding water down or food vomiting so he was very sick I had no idea he was like that as I got to the hospital with him all the tests X-rays over night stays was going to be 6 grand but the doctor said it wasn’t guaranteed he was beyond repair so i had to do what I never thought I’d have to do I held him in my arms rocking him I’ll miss him so much it hurts

    1. I’m so sorry, Steven. I had a similar thing happen with my Dachshund, Taz. She was elderly and not well, but I didn’t realize how serious her condition was until I had to rush her to the emergency vet hospital, and didn’t come home with her, like you said. It’s so incredibly painful. It sounds like Lucky was profoundly loved, a truly wonderful blessing for him that many dogs don’t get to experience. Try to stay busy, it helps to stay busy while time passes and the pain lessens a bit. I’ve said a prayer for you for comfort and healing. HUGS Debra

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