Grief Resources, Support Groups & Counseling

If you’re coping with the loss of a beloved pet, whether it’s recent or happened some time ago, you are not alone in your grief.  Reaching out and finding support to help you better understand the loss that you’re experiencing and knowing that your feelings are perfectly normal and valid can go a long way to help you through this difficult time of bereavement. The resources that we’ve put together are here to acknowledge you as a person in mourning and honor your feelings. And as time goes on they will help you down the path to finding meaning and healing along the way.

Support Groups

Pet Loss Support Groups can provide a safe and non-judgmental place for family members to go to be able to share their feelings and experiences whether it be before or after the loss of their beloved pet. Support groups are a place where family members will meet others who understand what they are going through as many times your own family and friends may not completely understand your grief.  Many groups welcome children as well.
 
To find a Pet Loss Support Group in your area, contact your local veterinarian for recommendations or find them online on your veterinary hospital’s website or by searching for groups in your area.
 
The following links have lists of numerous Pet Loss Support Groups by state, support webinars and much more:

The links above are not a comprehensive list and do not include every support group in every state.

Pet Loss Counseling

Sometimes one on one assistance can be the best way to help you when grieving the loss of your beloved companion.  Click HERE to see a state-by-state listing of counselors across the country. *This is not a comprehensive list and does not include every counselor in every state. If you’re unable to locate a counselor in your area, speak with your veterinarian, as they may have some good suggestions for you.
 

Distance Therapy

Not all counseling needs to be away from your home. Distance therapy is available and can be just as helpful.  Click HERE for the website that was created by Marty Tousley, RN, MS, FT, DCC. She has been a hospice counselor for 17 years.  Marty is a registered nurse with a Master’s in Advanced Psychiatric Mental-Health Nursing, was awarded the Fellow in Thanatology (advanced certification for professionals in the fields of grief, loss and transition) and is a Distance Credentialed Counselor.  Her website is designed to help those who are anticipating or mourning the loss of their loved ones, regardless of species! The website includes discussion groups, healing courses, resources and a blog to help you find comfort.

Universities that Offer Counseling

There may be a University nearby that has its own veterinary hospital and licensed clinical social worker on site.  This is a rapidly growing field and the veterinary community has made some very important strides to support their clients and fellow animal advocates. These counselors are available to the families of patients at the Universities hospital and many also counsel members in the community. They offer a lot of great resources on their sites as well.
 
Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital- Argus Institute: Counselors are on site for pet owners and staff as well as clients referred to the institute for pet loss support.  They also have a pet loss support group. The site has listings for local resources including other support groups and counselors in the area and national resource listings as well.

Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine- Best Friend Gone Project: Offers assistance to those who have lost or anticipate the loss of their pet. Counselors are on site for private counseling including in office and telephone counseling to the University hospital patient’s families and also members of the community and beyond (by appointment).

The University of Tennessee Knoxville: Their Veterinary Social Work Service offers individual, family or couple grief support sessions to clients as well as community members. They also have a pet loss support group.

Additional Helpful Websites for Grieving Pet Families: 

University Pet Loss Resources:

Books on Grief for Adults: 

  • Coping with Sorrow on the Loss of Your Pet by Moira Anderson

  • Goodbye, Friend: Healing Wisdom for Anyone Who Has Ever Lost a Pet by Gary Kowalski

  • The Grief Recovery Handbook for Pet Loss by Russell Friedman, Cole James and John W. James.

  • Grieving the Death of a Pet by Betty Carmack

  • Pawprints in the Stars: A Farewell and Journal for a Beloved Pet by Warren Hanson

  • Pet Loss and Human Bereavement Editor William Kay

  • Soul Comfort for Cat Lovers: Coping Wisdom for Heart and Soul After the Loss of a Beloved Feline by Liz Eastwood

  • The Pet Loss Companion by Ken Dolan-Del Vecchio and Nancy Saxton-Lopez

  •  For Every Dog an Angel by Christine Davis

  • I Never Wanted to Say Goodbye: A Collection of Poems by Arlene Klein

  • The Loss of a Pet: A Guide to Coping with the Grieving Process When a Pet Dies by Wallace Sife, PhD

  • Going Home: Finding Peace When Pets Die by Jon Katz

  • A Final Act of Caring: Ending the life of an animal friend by Mary and Herb Montgomery

  • It’s Okay to Cry: Warm compassionate stories that help you find hope and healing after the death of a beloved pet by Maria Lutz Quintana, Shari L. Velebra and Harley King

  • There is Eternal Life for Animals by Niki Behrikis Shanahan

  • Cold Noses at the Pearly Gates: A Book of Hope for Those Who Have Lost a Pet by Gary Kurz

Additional Hotlines Available

  • ASPCA Pet Loss 24 Hr Hotline:  877-474-3310 

  • Cornell University Pet Loss Support Hotline: 607-253-3932

  • Tufts University Pet Loss Support Hotline: 508-839-7966 

  • Utah State University Pet Loss Hotline: 435-757-4540 

  • Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine Pet Loss Support Hotline: 540-231-8038

  • ​Washington State University Pet Loss Hotline: 1-866-266-8635 or 509-335-5704