Locally-Owned in Oakdale and St. Paul, Minnesota

My Pet’s Final Day

A senior dog lying the grass receiving pats on the head.

In the difficult moment of accepting it’s time to say goodbye to a beloved pet, having the opportunity to say goodbye on your terms is a precious gift. Many clients have shared with us how grateful they were to create intentional space on their last day with their companion. Whether they schedule an appointment for end-of-life care and take the day off work, or simply set aside a couple hours to focus their energy on their pet, all have reflected gratitude for taking some time to curate moments as they prepared for that goodbye. In this blog, we are exploring four ways to make this challenging day a celebration of the bond you’ve shared with your pet.

A guinea pig photo shoot outside with a basket and flowers.

1. Take All the Photos and Videos 

Whether you do a photo session with a professional photographer or invite someone to tag along with you and your pet, you won’t regret all the photos and videos to remember your pet. These might take place in your home, in a photography studio, or your pet’s favorite place like the park. Consider taking both posed and candid photos that best capture your pet’s personality.  

Afterwards, whenever you are ready, you can use the photos and videos to create a scrapbook, photo album, wall art, or video slideshow to have a keepsake of your pet. 

A cat playing inside an open cardboard box.

2. Enjoy Your Pet’s Most Favorite Things 

Make a list of 3-5 of your pet’s absolute favorite things that they are still capable of doing. This might be going to a dog-friendly patio, playing with a specific toy, or lying in that perfect sunshine spot. Whatever is on the list, take the time to complete them. Unfortunately, the seasons may dictate your plans, but we’re confident you’ll be able to come up with great ideas for this quality time.  

A pug eating a soft serve ice cream cone.

3. A Special Treat

Right before your appointment, let your pet indulge in a special treat. After all, you won’t have to worry about the consequences of a toxicity or pancreatitis. Go ahead and let your pet have whatever they eye up when you eat. Head to the drive-thru and get your dog a cheeseburger and ice cream. Let your cat have a fish filet, milk, or tuna salad. Whatever they desire!

A group of dogs in a line in a living room.

4. Have a Goodbye Gathering 

If your pet was social, you might want to consider hosting a small get-together with your pet’s best friends (whether they are other pets or humans). Let everyone get a chance to say goodbye You can also video chat with those who can’t attend in-person. Your pet will love seeing all their favorite friends in one day.  

A cat snuggling with its owner.

After Your Final Goodbye 

The “after will be the most difficult part of the whole day as the sudden absence of your pet fills your home. Remember to be kind to yourself. As you process and experience your grief, consider the following support options: 

  • Take time off work 
  • If you live alone, ask a friend or family member to stay the night 
  • Choose a special urn and a special spot in your home to place it. You may also want to set up a framed photo of your pet next to the urn or another small memento like a collar
  • Donate to a rescue or shelter, whether it’s a monetary donation or gently used items, in your pet’s memory 
  • Have a memorial service with close family and friends 
  • Consider planting a tree, getting a tattoo, creating a poem or piece of art, or however else you’d like to pay tribute to your beloved pet 

Keep in mind that children and companion pets will have different ways to express their grief. Learn more about helping kids grieve the loss of a pet here. Learn more about how a companion pet may express their grief here 

A woman folding her hands over her lap.

We all say goodbye in our own way. No matter how you choose to spend your final day with your pet, know that it’s important to lean on your support system. If you need any additional support during your grief journey, Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota offers Pet Loss Support resources, including a virtual monthly group meeting, an email newsletter series, and a private Pet Loss Facebook Group Know that you are not alone in your grief, and there are others who understand the weight of the loss of a pet. 

More Reading: 

Janine Hagen author bio, Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota

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