Dec 022013

If you accidentally hurt your dog or cat – or you had to put your pet down – these ways to deal with guilt for causing your pet’s death will help you cope.

feel guilty caused pets death

When Your Pet Dies

When Your Pet Dies: A Guide to Mourning, Remembering and Healing by Alan D. Wolfelt is a guide for pet owners who are struggling with grief when their pet dies. This book will help you understand why your feelings are so overwhelming, and help you cope with the guilt you feel about your pet’s death. The topics discussed include practical suggestions for grieving, ideas for remembering and memorializing one’s pet, understanding the many emotions experienced after the death of a pet, understanding why grief for pets is unique, pet funerals and burial or cremation, celebrating and remembering the life of one’s pet, coping with feelings about euthanasia (and guilt about putting an animal to sleep), helping children understand the death of their pet, and things to keep in mind before getting another pet.

These tips are inspired by a reader who shared his guilty feelings about putting his dog to sleep. Saying good-bye to your beloved dog or cat is heartbreaking – and it’s even worse if you feel guilty about your pet’s death. I hope these tips help. “If there is a heaven, it’s certain our animals are to be there,” says Pam Brown. “Their lives become so interwoven with our own, it would take more than an archangel to detangle them.”

4 Ways to Deal With the Guilt of a Pet’s Death

Some people accidentally cause their dog or cat’s death by accidentally leaving them in harm’s way. The most important thing to remember is that you did NOT purposely cause your pet’s death. Dealing with guilt may be a bit lighter if you know you would’ve acted differently if you had the chance. If your actions led to your pet’s death, you have to keep reminding yourself that you did not deliberately harm your dog or cat. It was an accident, and you would have done things differently if you had know what would happen.

Dealing With Guilt When You Caused Your Pet’s Death

If you’re struggling with grief and guilty feelings because of the circumstances surrounding your dog or cat’s death, read Letting Go of an Animal You Love: 75 Ways to Survive Pet Loss. I interviewed veterinarians, grief counselors, and pet experts for the best ways to survive the death of a beloved dog or cat, and I included stories from real pet owners who coped with guilt and grief in sometimes surprising ways.

Identify “imagined” guilt about the loss of your dog or cat. Not recognizing that your Yorkie, cockapoo, or Siamese cat was ill doesn’t mean that you weren’t paying attention or taking good care of him or her! This is imagined guilt. Animals can’t always communicate their physical health; pet owners can’t see inside their bodies and brains.

Another type of “imagined” guilt is if you’ve accidentally caused your pet’s death by letting him out, keeping him in, or losing track of his whereabouts. If you did not deliberately set out to harm your pet, then you have nothing to feel guilty about. I know this is easier said than done – and it takes effort to forgive yourself.

If you’re dealing with imagined guilt because of your pet’s death, remember that sometimes illness or disease overcomes our dogs, cats, and other beloved pets…and there’s nothing we can do. This loss of control is a very painful — but real — part of life.

I recently wrote How to Forgive Yourself for Not Protecting Your Dog, to help you deal with the guilt you feel. Please take a moment to read it — it’s the comments on this article that inspired me to write it.

Remember that it’s normal to feel guilty when your dog or cat dies. Whether your guilt is real or imagined, know that it is a normal grief reaction. Even the most “innocent” pet owners feel guilt over a pet’s death. For instance, I now cringe when I recall how angry I was at my beloved cat, Zoey, for scratching the basement door (I didn’t realize the door to her litter box was shut tight, and she couldn’t get in). That was over 12 years ago, and I still feel guilty! Healing after you had to put your pet down often requires forgiving yourself.

dealing with guilt pet deathGoodbye, Friend: Healing Wisdom for Anyone Who Has Ever Lost a Pet is the number one bestselling book on pet loss and grief on Amazon. I love the book because it offers both heartwarming stories and practical guidance on grieving the loss of a pet. It’ll help you deal with guilt when you caused your pet’s death.

Identify “real” guilt about your pet’s death. Real guilt may spring from your feelings that you neglected your dog or cat’s annual vaccinations, daily food intake, exercise habits, and “quality time” with you. If you’re struggling with real guilt, remember that you had reasons for doing what you did. The stress of money, work, kids, marriage, and daily life may have taken precedence over how you treated your pet. Maybe you didn’t make the best choices.

guilt over dog cat death

“Dealing With Guilt When You Caused Your Pet’s Death” image by Laurie

Healing after your pet’s death involves accepting that you wish you would’ve done things differently — and talking this through with your family, friends, or loved ones.

Remember what you did right — because you did a lot right. Your dog or cat loved you beyond all reason – so you must have done something right. How did you love and take care of your pet? Balance your real guilt with the real ways you loved your pet. You took good care of your dog or cat in many ways; don’t wave that away.

Dealing with guilt when you caused your pet’s death isn’t just about grieving; it’s about cherishing the best parts of your life with your dog or cat.

Do you feel like you caused your dog or cat’s death? I encourage you to share your experience below. Talking and writing about it is healthier than ignoring it, and can help you process your grief.

Article Name
Dealing With Guilt When You Caused Your Pet's Death
If you accidentally hurt your dog or cat - or you had to put your pet down - these ways to deal with guilt for causing your pet's death will help you cope.
laurie pawlik kienlenI'm Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen - Christian, bookworm, travel bug, flute player, writer, blogger, warrior princess. :-) My husband and I live in Vancouver, Canada with our cat and dogs.

What's happening in your life? I welcome your big and little comments below! I can't give you advice, but writing might bring you clarity and insight.

"I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit." - Romans 15:13

In peace and passion...Laurie

  218 Responses to “Dealing With Guilt When You Caused Your Pet’s Death”

  1. I had to euthanize my sweet kitty earlier this month.

    I came home and she had peed everywhere. I found her in my bedroom hacking and barely breathing. Like she was choking on something. I called a vet and they told me to check her throat so I did. I stuck my finger down her throat a little, thinking maybe I could help her puke up whatever it was. She kept hacking and hacking. I was sitting with her in the floor when she stops breathing. She gagged hard and I saw her tongue was purple. I know kitty CPR and as soon as her breathing stopped I started. She came back after some rescue breaths and compressions. But her breathing was so labored.

    My fiancée and I wrapped her in a hoodie she liked to sleep on between us in the bed and got a couple hours of sleep before we took her to the vet. I fell asleep holding her paw.

    She wasn’t even able to move the next morning. Her little breaths were so ragged. The vet ran some quick tests and she must have fallen from something while we were gone. Her windpipe had collapsed and her ribs on her chest were broken. She had a punctured lung too. They said even surgery wasn’t a good option. I chose to euthanize her.

    I feel so incredibly guilty that I couldn’t help her sooner. I worry that the CPR I gave her wasn’t a good thing to do. Sure it gave us a few hours with her, but how much pain was she in? When they gave her the shot it didn’t take long. I held her and told her how pretty she was and how much I loved her. I felt her leave.

    She was about to turn 2. Her brother will sniff her bed and pace the house crying. It breaks my heart. I’m having a horrific time getting over her death. It’s been 2 weeks. I dreamed about her last night, she was sitting under a pine tree looking at me. I am utterly destroyed.

  2. Dear guilt and grief,

    My condolences on your dog’s death. It’s a terrible experience, to find your beloved dog gone. I believe you left for work that day because you sincerely thought that she would be fine. I would’ve gone to work, too. I would’ve expected to see more obvious signs of pain or suffering.

    I hope you are able to let go of the grief and guilt you feel. You couldn’t have known how sick your dog was, because you aren’t God! You thought she would be fine, that her body would heal itself — because 99% of the time, our dogs heal. If you had known what would happen, you would have taken her to the vet. I pray you can forgive yourself, and let the memories fade. Know that your dog is resting in peace, and that she doesn’t want you to suffer any more. She wants you to live in the moment, and remember her with joy, love and freedom.

    In sympathy,

  3. Dear StillHeartbroken,

    Thank you for being here, and sharing the deep grief and guilt you feel about your dog Ruby’s death. I’m so sorry you’re still struggling with the pain, and that it’s still so fresh for you.

    I agree – it may be something like post-traumatic stress. Anything that is traumatic for us can be PTSD. It’s no longer “just” “shell shock” for soldiers.

    Have you talked to a grief counselor about what you’ve been going through? I believe that’s the best way for you to start healing, because you seem to be stuck at the very beginning of the grieving process. Will you think about talking to a counselor?


  4. Today is Friday and my husband found our dog vomited sometime through the night on Wednesday. He let her outside that morning and he leaves the house before I do. Before I left for work she was laying on her side on our patio. She was often sick and then would get over it. But I knew something was wrong when I saw her on the patio because it was cold out and that was unlike her. She got up and came inside and vomited a little water. I hugged her and told her it was ok, I knew she didn’t feel well. But I felt like I had to go to work even though I should have stayed home or checked in at work and left right away. When I left she was curled up in her recliner. I came home 4 1/2 hours later and she was dead. She had went into the basement and was lying on her side and when I felt her I knew she was gone. I feel horribly guilty. I live about 2 miles from a university veterinary hospital and wish I would have come home right away after checking my email at work. Before I left her I looked for all these reasons to reassure myself that she was ok…We have two other small senior dogs at home and I get up through the night to take care of them. That is what makes me so angry…I didn’t make the effort when it really mattered and I feel so sorry she suffered while I was at work oblivious to her needing help. Now I am looking back to the days and night before and tormenting myself trying to remember every little thing trying to understand how I missed that she was in distress. Why couldn’t she have been panting or whining. I feel like such an idiot…alarms should have gone off when I saw her on the patio. What is wrong with me??? I should have been more present more in tune more thoughtful. I ask myself and try to remember what I was doing at work when she was in dire need of help. I am so sorry…I wish I could go back.

  5. Dear Lindsey,

    Thank you for being here, and sharing your experience with Codey. What a bittersweet good-bye. It sounds like it was so difficult for you to be there when your dog was put to sleep…but so important for him, and for you! You got to say good-bye, to hold him as he died. It breaks my heart to think of it, but I’d want to be there if my dogs died. I’d want to hold them, tell them how much I love them, and let them lick me!

    Codey was thanking you for being there and for taking such good care of him. He forgives you, and understands why you decided to let him rest in peace. He loves you, and his spirit will never leave you.


  6. Dear Kevin,

    We never know how surgery will turn out, or how our dog’s life will be if we didn’t decide to let the veterinarian operate. Even vets don’t know for sure what will happen surgeries or treatments. In your dog’s case, surgery may not have been the best option…but a letting her quality of life slowly get worse over time is not ideal, either.

    It sounds like you had an impossible decision to make about your dog, and you made the best decision possible. I hope you can deal with the guilt you feel, but I don’t believe you caused your dog’s death. You acted in her best interests – but we can’t control what happens after something as big as surgery. My prayer for you is that you find forgiveness and peace, and know your dog is resting in peace. She is suffering no pain or hardship where she is, and her spirit will forever be intertwined with yours.

    In sympathy,

  7. Dear Victor,

    I’m sorry to hear about Layla. She was such a spunky, energetic pup! Her curious and impulsive nature got her in trouble so many times…it’s so sad, that her life ended.

    My heart goes out to you, as you deal with the guilt you feel about your dog’s death. I don’t believe you murdered your puppy — I think it was an accident that caused her death. If you read through the comments on this page, you’ll see that there are so many tragic accidents that cause dogs to die. It wasn’t your fault because you didn’t deliberately cause her death. I hope you can forgive yourself, and accept that it was just an accident. It may take a long time to process your grief, but my prayer is that you are able to find freedom and forgiveness.

    You are not alone, and you are not a bad person. It was a tragic accident that happened to your dog. I hope you can see that.

    In sympathy,

  8. My dog past away this morning and I’m experiencing a lot of guilt and regret because of how she died. She had developed a very large lipoma that ruptured a week or two ago. At the same time her hind legs had become very weak and she was having trouble walking. We took her to the vet who suggested surgery that same day, and I agreed. She got through the surgery but died 3 days later, after 3 days of intense pain. If I had not agreed to the surgery she would be here, right now. Her quality of life would have slowly gotten worse and she would have been euthanize peacefully at our home, possibly a year from now. Instead she was in anguish for 3 days before she died before her time. She had life left in her, it was obvious.

  9. I first got my little pup layla when she was just a month old. She was a pitbull mix and the most adorable one out of her brothers and sisters. I got her on Oct. 2nd which was my dads birthday as an exuse to say it was his present, even though he didnt want dog let alone a pitbull (because of all the negative stereotypes). So i pretty much raised her on my own feeding her, cleaning after her and playing or walking her and she even slept in bed with me. Everyone was growing fond of her like my grama, uncle and even my dad who didn’t even want her at first. But these past few days she was getting really agrressive and biting alot of funiture, clothes, ect. She even ripped my gramas dress while she was wearing it. It got to the point where she even bit me 2 nights ago on my finger hard enough for blood to gush out and so i went to rinse it. My dad saw and so i had to explain to him and he told me to throw her in the garage for the night to teach her a lesson and so i did (that was where i messed up). She cried alot but i didnt care because i was mad at her so i went straight to bed.
    The next morning i woke up to let her out thinking she might be mad at me and not wanna see me or something just to find her laying under my uncle’s bike which had fallen on her and i yelled her name but she didnt move so i ran to her to pick her up but her collar had gotten stuck on the leg of the bike and she somehow twisted it causing it to become tighter and sufficate herself. With tears gushing out of my eyes i lossend her and held her to my chest screaming “f***, im soo sorry layla” but her head just fell back and her body was already getting stiff. I took her to my gramas room and woke her up telling her i messed up, i shouldnt have put her in there. She cried too but told me it was a really bad accident and that only God knows why these things happen. My uncle got home shortly after and they just kept telling me how it wasnt my fault because i wasnt trying to hurt her and how if i knew that would happen how i would acted differently.
    I didnt know what to with her so i wrapped in her towel and buried her in my backyard the whole time tears running down my face and just saying “im sorry layla” over and over again. I stayed in bed all day yesterday just crying and remembering the moments we had together and how she was the only one to get exited when i got home. I also kept replaying that senerio in my head too and makes me cry and feel guilty even more. I kept thinking how i should’ve handled things differently. Why didnt i put her outside instead it wasnt even cold that night she would’ve made it ?! Or why didnt it occur to me to put her in the cage where my uncle had his smaller pup that he recently got because we didnt want to be on her own. I could’ve just taken the little one out and put her in there but in my room she wouldve cried alot but she would still be here. I loved her so much but i cant get over the fact i betrayed her but trying to punish her. I keep imagining how scared she must’ve been while it was happening and it just makes me feel worse. I even slept in the couch last night because i couldn’t sleep in my bed without her. She was like my baby and i let her die all alone. I dont know how to live with myself anymore. I am a puppy murderer and im not even worthy of talking to people or ever interacting with another animal. I know this only happend yesterday but i know im gonna carry this pain, guilt and regretment for the rest of my life. Its too the point where i just wanna die too.

  10. I am so so upset hurt and guilty Friday afternoon i took my baby boy codey to the vets and chose to have him put to sleep instead of having an amputation on his back leg or putting him through 6 weeks minimum intense treatment of 3 visits a week and an amount of impossible money i do not and could not get . He had an infection in his swollen leg which i treated and he was so much better but he ended up taking the skin off and it was horrendous . Codey was only 6 . i am in a state of distress and cant cope my other dog keeps looking for him and i keep thinking had i taken him to the vets with just the swollen leg he would be here now . I dont drive and until the last week Codey was not able to keep still and had never been in a car i had phoned the vets for advice and to see if they would visit here but his leg had gone down and he was so happy . I held his head when the time came and he was still licking me which makes it worse . i cant stop crying and dont know how i will go to work tommorw xx

  11. Dear Hasty,

    I’m sorry you lost your pet – what a tragic, sad accident. So terrible.

    I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers, and I especially pray that you can deal with the guilt of letting him out and hearing his yelping. I pray you understand deep in your heart and soul that this wasn’t your fault, that you did nothing wrong. It was a terrible, sad accident. Your poor dog was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and there was nothing you could’ve done to prevent it. I sit with you in grief and heartache.

    In sympathy,

  12. I lost my beloved house rabbit Boots after 5 years two days ago. I am absolutely heartbroken as I loved him like a child and there is nothing I wouldn’t have done to try to save him. His illness was unexpected and rapid – he died within 24 hours – and I am very much in shock. I noticed he had stopped eating first thing in the morning, which is very serious in bunnies due to the nature of their digestive system. I kept a close eye on him and saw that he wasn’t his usual lively self and therefore called the vets as soon as they opened. We took him in but our usual vet wasn’t on duty and the one who saw us didn’t have much experience of rabbits. He gave some digestive medicine but didn’t administer painkillers even though I asked him if we should – I knew he should have had them but the vet was the professional and I was not in my right frame of mind due to stress and panic so I didn’t push the issue.

    We took him home and the poor little guy kept trying and trying to go to the toilet but to no avail. He started to become really lethargic. I had read on the internet that a stomach massage might help rabbits in this situation so I tried to do this as I thought it would help. We took him back to the vets and they tried and failed to relieve the gas building in his stomach using a tube. They then referred us to a specialist vets an hours drive away. I thought he would die in the taxi :(

    When we arrived the specialist advised that he would drain the air using a syringe and keep Boots over night. He was confident he would be ok until morning and then they could do further work to find the cause of his blocked digestive system. I opted for him to stay at the vets even though it was not staffed as I thought two long car journeys would have caused him more stress which might make things far worse and the vet advised against transferring him to the emergency clinic as the staff there were not experienced with rabbits and may have caused more problems if something had happened. He said boots had a extremely good chance of being ok overnight and I really felt that this was the best option for him. However unfortunately we got the dreaded phone call the next morning to say that he hadn’t made it.

    I am beside myself with guilt. Maybe if I had pushed the first vet to give him painkillers which is a crucial part of treatment for gut stasis he would have been fine, but I trusted the vet knew more than me and I shouldn’t have done. What if I caused the blockage in the first place? I caught him chewing a bath robe I had left on the couch while my back was turned a few days earlier. What if my massage made things even worse? And the thought of him dying alone in an unfamiliar cage at the vets when he should have been at home is too much for me to take.

    I know thinking these things over and over won’t change what happened. But the thought that I could possibly have caused or prevented his death is tearing me apart. Many people with no experience of house rabbits probably think “it’s only a rabbit” and that I am being ridiculous but I can assure you that rabbits are every bit as intelligent and affectionate to humans as cats and dogs when not forced to live out their days in a hutch at the bottom of a garden.

    Boots was like a child to me, and I just don’t know how to cope with his sudden death. I’m an absolute wreck but the guilt is preventing me from grieving for him properly. I feel like a terrible owner.

    • I am so sorry to hear about Boots, but please don’t beat yourself up! I rescue rabbits and currently have eight in my care; everything you did was what a good bunny parent would do. You didn’t hesitate to seek medical attention, you were knowledgeable about GI stasis, you went to a specialist, and you didn’t give up. Unfortunately, rabbits are such delicate creatures, things like this will sometimes happen and there is often little to nothing we can do except exactly what you did.

      Your bunny was incredibly fortunate to have such a caring, wonderful caretaker. Boots was obviously very doted upon and loved, and that’s already much more than many bunnies get. Add to that having a knowledgeable and very attentive caretaker, and he was living the life that every bunny deserves but only a small fraction of a fraction tend to get. Your guy was loved beyond measure, and there is no way he wasn’t aware of how much he was adored. Everyone dies, sadly, but the most important part is how well they lived. Boots obviously lived a rich life full of love and devotion, and that is an amazing thing that should fill you with happiness in retrospect. <3

    • My pet died last night :( I came home from work and let my sweet polo small chi out to pee like I always do … 2 min later I hear yelping … I run outside and a coyote has snatched my precious boy !!! I feel like I will never get over this :( I have so much guilt .. I don’t know what I’m going to do

    • I had a similar experience with my dog, Aimee. In hindsight we know the things we think we did wrong but at the time the situation is so tense and we are so worried we don’t remember things and we rely on the experts who unfortunately cannot always save our loved ones despite their best efforts. Sometimes they don’t have all the knowledge or the facilities required to save them but we don’t know that until it is too late and then we won’t ever know if a more knowledgeable vet would have made a difference. We can only take them to someone more qualified than ourselves to give them a chance. You took Boots to a vet which gave him a chance he would not have had if you had kept him at home please don’t keep hurting yourself for doing that, try to remember the good times and the love and companionship you shared and know that Boots life was filled with the love you shared so his life was a happy one. Time will dull the pain then you will get some comfort from happy memories. I hope you have people around you who understand the depth of feeling we can have for our little companions, I know from reading a lot of similar stories there are a lot of us about, I am sending you loving thoughts.

  13. Dear Debi,

    I’m sorry for that you lost your beloved, beautiful Persian cat. It’s so sad, to have a pet die in our own home. The guilt can be so hard to deal with….my prayer is that you are able to forgive yourself, and know your cat is resting in peace. She has no more health issues or pains, and she is watching you with love and forgiveness.

    In sympathy,

  14. Dear Unknown Banana,

    Thank you for having the courage and strength to share the guilt you feel about the deaths of the birds in your care. It sounds like you’re having trouble forgiving yourself, even though the deaths were accidental. You didn’t deliberately set out to hurt your pets — and even if you did, you have to forgive yourself and move on. I think you know that, and this is why you’re here!

    One way to forgive yourself in a practical sense is to volunteer with a humane society. Dedicate a few hours a week — even an hour — to helping abused, sick, or abandoned animals. You can’t bring back the pets that died, but you can reach out to living animals. Helping other creatures is one of the best ways to contribute to the world, and the added benefit is that you’ll feel better about yourself.

    My prayer is that you find a way to contribute to ease the pain of living animals, and in doing so you’ll ease the pain and guilt you feel about causing a pet’s death. Give your time and energy, and you might feel better. You may even meet people who have made similar mistakes, and you’ll see you’re not alone.


  15. I had to put my very sweet 20 year old cat down yesterday due to kidney failure. It was my fault i didnt take him to the vet sooner than i did. Thurs he vomitted. Fri he vomited twice one was bile n white foam. He was still happy and rolling on his back for belly rubs so i thought he just had a yucky tummy. Sat he vomited again n looked sick. He still ate and was drinking. I choose not to take him to the after hours emergency clinic thinking as long as he is drinking its probably a hairball or blockage and maybe he will get it up. I had my four month old grand son so i wasnt paying as close attention to my trebol boy as i should have. Sun i took my grandson home and took my boy into emergency clinic where he was gound to be in renal failure. They gave him pain meds since i had left him suffer so long and tried to get his kidneys working again. After 12 hours i stroked his head as they gave him the medication to stop his heart.
    Its my fault he suffered. My fault they couldnt save him cuz i waited too long. My fault his brother is alone.
    I used to believe i loved my sweet and gentle boy more then anything in the world. But if i loved him how could i wait so long? It wasn’t convenient to take him saturday so that must be why i thought to myself hes ok he will be fine. What kind of mother does that? Selfish, self centered, unfit

    • Sweetie, you CANNOT blame yourself for this. Renal failure, sadly, happens in cats as they age; it’s one of the most common ways that older cats pass. It can’t be reversed, and at a certain point, even extra hydration, special food, etc. can’t do anything but delay the inevitable. Once a cat is diagnosed with renal failure, it’s usually when they are already on their way out; they usually don’t show signs until their kidneys are already at 20% function or less. And once it gets to that point, it could be a matter of days or weeks left, or some might defy all odds and live months to years longer. At the age of 20, your cat lived an amazingly long life, and one most of us wish we could share with our loved ones, too! Please celebrate how special of a connection you had with your little one, and what a wonderful, long partnership you had. Many of us only get our babies for 16 years, if even that. I say you did everything right if you were able to celebrate 20 wonderful years with your baby. <3

      • Thanks Jessica, I appreciate your reply. My baby was only 10, I didn’t proof read before I sent. He was so happy and loving and my house feels empty without him. I am to blame for not having yearly checkups to check for kidney function. Had I done that, I would have known what to look for and maybe he would still be alive. His kidneys were shut down completely by the time I took him so he must have been failing for a while without showing any symptoms. I have a mobile vet coming to check his brother on Friday. This has been a horrible eye opener and I plan on having my other cat tested very year.
        I’m trying to put the guilt away and stop beating myself up but I still have my moments. He was my heart, and I miss him terribly. His brother is pining as well adding to the heartache.
        I know with every passing day it will get easier but it sure is hard right now :(

        • I know exactly how you feel. We lost one of our sweet little girls to kidney failure at only 8. By the time we started noticing symptoms, she was already on a steep decline. Apparently, she only had one functioning kidney to begin with, so she didn’t have much to work with when we started getting her veterinary attention. We went through all of the guilt, the self-blame, etc. What if we had just taken her in earlier to get checked? What if we had cleaned her catbox more? Maybe she held in her pee occasionally, which helped break down her kidneys. If only we had detected it sooner…But in the end, what is ultimately the most important is that you loved her and cared for her enough for this to be so devastating to you. You gave her a wonderful life, and sadly, even with annual checkups, not everything can be anticipated or cured. You are obviously a wonderful pet parent. Please don’t beat yourself up! Mourn her absence, but don’t blame yourself. And give your remaining kitty extra love. <3

          • I’m so sorry for the loss of your little girl. I think I can handle the grief, its the guilt I am drowning in.It helps to hear I am not alone and that others have lost their loved ones feeling like they too should have done more. I just wish I would have taken him in the day before I did. I know it wouldnt have helped, I know he still would have died, but I think I wouldnt have felt so bad leaving him to suffer that one day. I wish I would have watched more closely, was he peeing enough, too much, drinking enough, too much, my brain just won’t stop.
            But thank you thank you thank you for your kind words, it has helped more then you will ever know. I dont feel suicidal anymore and I know he had a good life, a life he shouldnt even had as he was so sick when I got him as a kitten. He was able to give me 10 years of love and me him and I am grateful for that. I just miss him so much. I hear his nails on the floor and his little meows even now. I think my mind is playing tricks on me. He was the first cat I have raised from kitten to death, he was my baby boy and I have never loved anyone so completely and utterly. Writing helps.. so thank you again. You may have saved my life.

          • I would give you the biggest hug right now if I could! Believe me, you are not alone! The guilt can be absolutely overwhelming, and I’ve had to be talked down from that particular ledge more than once, sadly. Hindsight is always 20/20, but think about what you would be telling someone you love if they were telling you the same story you have. Step outside of your own guilt and imagine your daughter, your partner, someone else incredibly close to you loved an animal more than life, itself, and suffered a loss like this. Would you believe that yes, they should have been able to do more? Or would you think they were being too hard on themselves, that there are just certain things that can’t be predicted, that they shouldn’t feel so guilty? This is what I have to remind myself whenever the loss of a pet gets me trapped in that horrible guilt loop. If it was my partner who had that guilt, would I be holding him to it, or would I think he was being too hard on himself, clearly seeing how much he loved, adored, and cared for that animal?

            When a tragedy like this strikes, it is never easy. But in the end, we can use that sorrow and sense of guilt to make ourselves better caretakers for animals in need in the future. Think of where your kitty would have been if you hadn’t taken him in, cared for him, tended to his health, and given him the love and warm home he deserved. You gave him a wonderful life, and I can feel the love and care in every word you write. I am so happy you have been able to receive some comfort through this exchange, and I hope it pleases you to know that I have, as well. Sometimes, finding camaraderie, writing it out, and reading that you are certainly not alone, helps more than anything. So thank you for writing it out, thank you for helping yourself through this murky sadness and guilt, thank you for allowing my words to help you, and thank you for providing the same support to me. <3

      • I lost an angel Tuesday, November 11. I feel so terrible as I knew my baby girl Persian cat had a heart conditions and hyperthyoid and lived for the bathtub, she was taking meds. I left her alone for 10min with a rescued puppy I. Had baby gated in my room blocking the entrance to the tub and in that that time, she jumped over the baby gates blocking her way to the tub,made it into the tub and had a heart attack….that jumping & puppy must have been too much. I could have exytend I wish outs

        • Jessica I had the vet here for my other cat today to make sure that he is ok. She said I only had 24 hours to bring in my baby once he started to fail and I waited 3 days instead :( It is my fault totally. I’m not sure I can live with that. I’m sorry that you went through that with your lil girl as well. Its so hard and all emcompassing. Writing helps, and reading your replies has helped, but now Im back in the same spot. My fault. He trusted meto keep him safe and I didn’t.

          Debi – I am so sorry for your loss as well. Like you, the loss is still so fresh. I’d say please dont blame yourself, you took good care of your kitty and she had issues beyond your control, but I know that you are going to anyways. Hopefully with time we will both realize that they loved we showed them when they were alive makes up for the way they passed but right now thats all hard to put in perspective.

          My heart goes out to you both and to everyone here who is dealing with such a heartbreaking situtaion. I wish we could all get together and hug it out and share our stories. This is by far the hardest week of my life (which really is saying alot)

          Thoughts and love to you all.

          • I’m certain the vet’s indication of the 24-hour timeline wasn’t to say it was your fault, but to let you know that it was such a small timeframe, there was so little anyone could have known to do in that timeframe! You had absolutely no way of knowing you had so little time to help your little one out. Most people would have found themselves in the exact same situation, and I’m so, so very sorry that this happened to you and your sweet kitty. <3

  16. This is very hard for me to write, this guilt of how much of a bad child I was has consumed my life. Now that I look back on myself I realized that I should have listen to my mom and take her advice….I didn’t just cause one pets death, but many when I was young.

    -Once I had a small parakeet named Ace, my friend that moved away gave a lot of them to me. He couldn’t fly so he could never leave my side, when it was winter time we had a sled and I wanted to ride with the bird after a few times I… ran over him by accident, I brought him back to my house and told my mom everything as I watched him die in my hands

    – We also had cockatiel’s I had let them stay in my room for awhile and two (a yellow and another time a dark colored) of them suffocated from the heat of my bed

    – A neighbor left us two finches with I let them out to explore so we can “bond” more after a while of me trying to catch them a re-put them back in there cage the cage fell and but the two in shock.

    They were all birds and I loved them with all my heart, many unfortunate things have happened with my experience with birds are tainted for what horrible things I had done over the past years. Guilt has been creeping up on me and I can’t stand it sometimes I have thoughts of killing myself and those “Why am I alive?” moments, I was young and naive and did not anything about animal care (7-9 ish) I am now fifteen and have educated myself and vow never to hurt a animal again and had never hurt an animal for six years, but those nights when I am thinking about the past I can’t help but cry for all the crap I had done. I’m heartbroken and ashamed… What should I do?

  17. Sorry for your loss.

  18. I ran over my best friend Max 4 days ago while running him along the beach, which we’ve done hundreds of times in his life and I’ve always been real careful about knowing where he is, but this time the second I lost sight of him was the second too late. I’ll never forget his cries of pain. He was alive for about 20 minutes after and died in my arms outside the vets. He was an awesome almost 5yr old doberman, he was the most clever loving loyal boy. I miss my shadow, sofa/bed buddy. I am absolutely heart broken and guilt ridden. Thank you so much for this site, it does help to read about others who are going through similar experiences.

  19. Dear Guilty,

    Thank you for being here and sharing your story with us. It’s heartbreaking to lose a beloved pet, whether it’s a dog that’s been in the family for 15 years or a newly adopted chinchilla.

    You took such good care of your chinchilla, and it’s devastating to lose him this way. I am sorry for your loss, and am sending warm thoughts and prayers as you process your grief. I believe this experience will make you a more loving, compassionate, approachable, and caring animal lover. You now know how fragile life is, how it can be snatched away in one second, and how impulsive animals are!

    This accidental tragedy can make you a better caregiver of animals, if you let it. This accident is NOT a reflection of you as an animal rescuer, it is just a reminder of how life is so unpredictable and precious. Accidents happen no matter how careful we are, how many precautions we take, or how many animals we’ve rescued and loved.

    What if this accident isn’t about you? What if it’s simply a random accident that you couldn’t have prevented? My prayer is that you can take yourself out of the equation. You do so much good for the animals you’ve rescued, and this one terrible accident shouldn’t deprive future animals of your love. My prayer is that you see yourself as you are: an honest, kind, compassionate, loving rescuer of animals who has experienced heartache. This heartache will make you an even better caretaker, not a worthless one.

    Don’t let tragedy, guilt, and fear win. Let love, hope, faith, and the belief in something greater be your strength.


  20. I lost my little 9 year old chihuahua x mini foxy last month. I cannot contain my grief and I have unbearable feelings of guilt and anger at myself. I’m currently 5 months pregnant and everyone wants me to be happy but I really can’t imagine another moment of happiness without my little buddy by my side. We spent every moment together for nearly all of his life. I cooked all his meals, bathed him, walked him, medicated him. He slept either at the end of the bed near my feet or under the bed on my side. I’ve slept on the couch since he died because I can’t bear to be in the bedroom and not see his little legs sticking out from underneath the bed. I can’t wake up in the bed and not have him there. I’m still checking to see if his pee pad needs changing and looking for his water bowl to refill. I can’t pack away any of his toy or his bed. I’m heartbroken…

    A year and a half ago completely out of the blue he was diagnosed with an enlarged heart and grade 2 heart murmur. At the time we were told he might only live weeks or months and we grieved for a long time. But as the year progressed he didn’t show any more symptoms other than coughing but he had dynamic airway disease and it didn’t affect his quality of life. He suffered a heart tear with pleural effusion in June 2014 and they told us he probably wouldn’t survive the week. But with care and attention he bounced back to health and in a few weeks he was chasing birds around the backyard and racing around with his toys. We were more careful with him though- we limited his walks and monitored him carefully. Around the middle of July 2014 he went into mild congestive heart failure. His murmur was graded 5/6 and he was given quite a lot of medication. The vet said he was lucky we’d been so observant and caught it really early. The fluid was cleared from his lungs and for another month and a half he was back to his old goofy, puppy self.

    At the end of September he started to slow down. He began refusing his meds and his appetite was poor. His coughing had also gotten worse and we were both awake most nights. I was trying to give him his medication one morning and I lost it. I got really angry when he uncharacteristically bit me, drawing blood. I called him a bad dog and put him in the bathroom for a time out. I still remember his face. Those big brown eyes scared of me as I yelled. I am furious at myself because at the time I didn’t realise he was dying.

    On September 26 2014 I took him to the vet because I thought he had developed an arrhythmia. He had to wear a 24 hour Holter. At the same time I took him to have his dew claws clipped and anal glands expressed. I feel so mean to have put him through that. I was just trying to take care of him. The vet said he had an arrhythmia but it wasn’t anything to worry about. They did chest X-rays and said his lungs were clear and his heart disease was well managed. I took him to the park as usual and he ate dinner seemingly happy. Less than 24 hours later he began coughing and couldn’t stop. I rushed him to the ICU and they told us his lungs were full of fluid. His arrhythmia was worse and he had tears in his heart valve. He was released from ICU two days later. He was very weak and had begun losing weight. I carried him everywhere and feed him baby food through a syringe. My husband medicated him which was really hard (about 16 pills a day). He seemed to be doing better. He played a little and his energy and appetite improved.

    I took him for a checkup a week later. He’d eaten a big meal of boiled chicken the night before and walked in the garden on his own. His eyes were bright and he was wagging his tail. We thought he was getting better but when they x rayed him his lungs were full of fluid again. I couldn’t believe I had to leave him in the ICU again but I promised him (and myself) it was just one night. Four nights later he showed no improvement. I started to panic. I was exhausted and extremely stressed and I couldn’t cope with the fact he wasn’t getting better. I’m ashamed of myself because I should have been stronger for him.

    The vet called me on Friday and said he was treatment resistant. He wanted to take him off the intravenous oxygen and see if he could make it on his own. I was completely devastated. We discussed euthanising him but the vet assured us it was weeks away and that we would have him back for a little while. When I picked him up from the ICU the next day it was like my whole world was shattering. I couldn’t believe how sick he was. He had dyspnea and ataxia in his hind legs. He was skin and bones. We took him to the park and lay him on a picnic blanket in the sun. When we got home we knew we were out of our depth. He could barely walk and was obviously suffering. We tried to be really kind to him but mostly we left him alone to sleep. We had this ridiculous idea that if we could just get him to eat a little and sleep he would somehow get better. But he was never going to get better.

    Around 1am he vomited and was shaking. We didn’t know what to do whether we should take him to the ICU again. We’d only just gotten him back and didn’t want to lose him again. We were selfish. He settled down about 20 minutes later and went to sleep. I stayed awake most of the night monitoring his breathing. About 3am he got up and ate a little food and had a big drink. I thought maybe he wasn’t that bad after all. In the morning we gave him his medication and took him to the garden to pee. He couldn’t walk and when I put him on the grass he just lay down. I picked him up and cradled him on my lap for a while. At this stage I thought his meds were overloading his heart and I knew our vet wasn’t going to treat him so I got really focussed on finding a second opinion. What I should have been doing was syringing water so he didn’t dehydrate and syringing honey so his blood sugar didn’t drop but instead I started making phone calls. I should have spent every moment of that morning with him in my arms because two hours later he was sleeping on the bedroom floor when I heard his breathing change. He was in severe respiratory distress. We rushed him to the ICU because we didn’t know what else to do. I couldn’t watch him suffocate.

    At the ICU they took him to the oxygen tent and we waited an hour to see the vet. She told us he was doing ok and his heart rate was about 100. We knew we couldn’t take him home again. We asked if we should stay and she told us they would run some tests and call us. I was really tired and had lost weight from stress. My husband wanted to take me to get something to eat because he was worried about the baby. We left thinking our fur baby was stable and in good hands. Three hours later the vet rang me to get permission to immediately euthanise our little boy. He had suddenly crashed. He was in cardiac arrest before the end of our two minute phone call. We arrived at the vet seven minutes later but he was gone. It absolutely breaks my heart that he died that way. Alone in a cage and in pain. They tried to tell me it was quick but I know he suffered.

    I wish we had been able to give him the painless respectful death he deserved. I am so angry at myself for not being able to face what was happening. I was always so focussed on getting him better that I never accepted that I couldn’t fix him. I am just so incredibly sorry that he had to suffer at all. I cry every day and it’s not even really for me but for him. He deserved so much better. He deserved a painless death and he deserved better from me. I will never be able to tell him how sorry I am. I was his mum and it was my responsibility to protect him. I can’t stand not having him around. I miss his smiling eyes. He had the biggest heart and brought so much love to everyone around him. I will love and miss him forever.

    • Hi Juliette. We lost our 17 year old Yorkshire Terrier on 3rd October 2014. She had kidney trouble and I had to take her to the vets to have her put to sleep. On the 28th October we bought our Yorkie girl puppy Millie, she was gorgeous. She died just five days later at 4am on 3rd November. She died from dehydration. The first three days at home she was brilliant. She ate well and drunk well. By Friday she was doing less playing and not eating but we though she had a tummy bug. On Saturday she drank well but wouldn’t eat. She went out for a pee etc but was very lethargic. On Sunday I called the breeder and he said bring her back for a few days and we will sort her out. On Monday morning we had a phone call to say she died at 4am. We are absolutely devastated. We had her for just five days and she was only 11 weeks old. I feel guilty for her loss and will miss our little Millie for the rest of my life xx

      • I’m sorry you lost both your dogs. I hope you are more at peace than we are. I hate not truly knowing what happened to my dog. I wonder if he was dehydrated or hyperglycaemic and we were too inexperienced to realise. I hate that I left him at the ICU thinking he was stable and in the safest place only to have him die there. It was my worst nightmare for him to die alone and in pain at the vets. It haunted me before his death and is 10 fold now. I hope he wasn’t neglected. I hope he didn’t suffer but there are many doubts in my mind. I feel a mixture of guilt and regret taking him to the ICU. I think he would have rather been with us but I couldn’t stand to see him suffering. The vet we had on the day he died was not forthcoming with details about his death or particularly sympathetic. Neither were the nurses. We don’t know if that’s because someone did something wrong or that they blamed us for taking him home overnight. I had repeatedly checked that he was stable enough to come home but when we got there even I thought he was too sick to have been released to us. I just couldn’t subject him to the ICU anymore. I hope you can have a clearer head about Millie. It certainly doesn’t sound like you did anything wrong. Take care.

        • Hi Juliette. I don’t know what Millie died of apart from the breeder saying she was dehydrated. She could also have had the hyper, because that and dehydration apparantely go hand in hand. We will never know. I went and fetched her back on Monday afternoon and she was cremated on tuesday. We have just got her back today 5th November. She is in the cabinet with our old lady Muffin. Millie was only with us for five days but she was still part of us. Thanks for listening.

  21. I run an in-home small animal rescue, but also recently took in an older dog because it was also injured and there is no way we could find a home for an old dog that might need surgery. We rehabilitated the dog, and she became part of our family, but we soon realized she has very high prey drive for small animals (not cats or larger rabbits, but small animals like rats, baby rabbits, etc.).

    We took precautions to allow us to keep everyone safe at all times. We kennel the dog whenever we leave; she is never allowed into the rabbit room or the rodent room. We have the rabbit room gated off and the rodent room secured behind a door. Well, we took in a chinchilla a few months ago. We fell in love with him and realized we couldn’t bear to adopt him out. We sat with him nightly, trying to heal him from his past experiences, gave him nightly free-range play time in the rodent room, bought an air purifier to ensure his lungs stayed healthy, temperature-controlled the rodent room for him, set him up in a ceiling-tall cage for when he wasn’t out for his nightly playtime, put a TV in the rodent room so he wouldn’t be bored while we slept, etc. He was like our child, and soon he got over his aggression, anxiety, and fear, and jumped on us, sat on my lap to select his treat at night, watched TV with us, etc.

    But then one stupid mistake led to his death in an instant. My partner was sitting with the chinchilla in the rodent room for free-range time and I was getting ready for bed. I opened the door a small amount to check for the chinchilla, didn’t see him, so let myself into the room and closed the door behind me. I had NO idea he had been hiding next to the air purifier right next to the door and snuck out in that split-second. My partner had no idea, either.

    After a couple of seconds saying goodnight, I left the room, again careful to check for the chinchilla and only open the door as much as needed to squeeze out. I had no idea he’d already zipped out until I closed the door behind me and saw my dog had a piece of fur hanging out of her mouth. I immediately recognized it as chinchilla fur- they experience fur “slip” when grabbed – and yelled for my partner to check the room and see if the chinchilla was still in there with him. Then I frantically started checking underneath our furniture outside of the room. There he was, under the couch, limp and lifeless. He had obviously zoomed out of the room and the prey-drive dog just reacted (she waits for me when I leave her, so she would have been right outside of the door when he zoomed out). She must have dropped him and he was able to get under the couch before dying.

    The whole ordeal was just a few seconds, tops. I gathered his little lifeless body in my hands and walked into the rodent room, sobbing, trying to tell my partner how sorry I was. My partner loved the chinchilla even more than I did, and I robbed him of that in one instant.

    People keep saying it’s not my fault, accidents happen, that I took an animal from ten years of abuse and made him happy so I should just appreciate that, etc. But I can’t get over it. I feel beyond guilty; I feel like I should have foreseen something like this happening. I shouldn’t have opened the door. I should have put up a second security gate just in case. I should have foreseen this and prevented it. I feel like I’m worthless as a rescuer. I feel like I don’t deserve to have animals, that I have presented myself as an animal rescuer and now I don’t deserve that title. I feel like I learned an important lesson in double-gating everything, but the lesson was learned too late and an animal paid with its life. How can I possibly take in any other animals and look people in the eye, knowing I allowed an accident like this to happen? Even with taking additional precautions in the future, I feel like I can’t.

  22. Early on Friday evening, the most unspeakable incident occurred. I was driving into our property (very slowly, as always), when our little sausage dog somehow ran under my car’s back wheel. We heard this brief yelp and I stopped the car immediately. My children and I jumped out and saw her lying there ……. Well, I have no words how to describe how we felt. She was my youngest daughter’s pride and joy, and had been for 8 years. We screamed hysterically for my husband and he rushed out, jumped into the car and sped off to our vet with her. Our wonderful, wonderful, vet (who rushed back to work as it was after hours) was waiting on the sidewalk outside the practice, to help. Unfortunately it was too late. The dogs greet us at the gate every single day, and we are always overly cautious when driving in, so everything that happened made absolutely no sense.

    The guilt I feel is absolute and devastating. Our family loves animals to distraction, and I’m involved in a lot of animal charity work, so for this to happen makes me feel like a total monster. We have many rescue cats and 5 dogs, and they are looked after so well, loved and spoilt. How could I do something like this? My poor daughter’s first words, in amongst our collective hysteria, were “Mom, it’s not your fault.” My little girl, in her devastation, trying to comfort me!

    I know Clancy would have already forgiven me, and she’s running around barking delightedly with her brothers and sisters in Heaven, but I feel sick to my stomach. I know it will take a long time for me to forgive myself, but it shows how quickly an accident can happen. Putting out one less food bowl the next day almost broke me, and I would do anything to have her running around like she used to, smiling, sleeping on the bed, under the covers in cold weather. My daughter used to dress her up in all sorts of funny outfits, push her in a wheelbarrow, teach her little tricks, and at the end of the day, put her into bed with her.

    I can’t eat properly, feel like throwing up the whole time, and even phoned the school to check that my child is okay. It’s like one of those nightmares that keeps on playing in a loop around my head.

    What I wanted to say is that it is a comfort to read a site like this, and know that I am not alone. God Bless you all.

    • Tracy, I am so sorry you lost your sweet dog like that. I had something similar happen to me on 9/14. Post trauma stress experienced since it happened and it sounds like you are going through that as well. Different than grief and I am finally starting to feel a little better. My daughters dog was hit by a car I front of our house while I was supposed to be watching her. Hope I can forgive myself someday as I know bailey doesn’t wAnt me to feel responsible. Just something that happened. I will say prayers for you and your family tonight. Try and focus on how happy your puppy made all of you. Ramona

  23. Dear “worthless” person,

    You are not worthless! You are a loving, kind, compassionate person in deep pain. A truly worthless person would not care about a dog’s death.

    I agree with Sue – it’s so important for you to remember the love you shared, and know that Pinto remembers it too. Please keep your heart open, and know you’re not alone. The reason I wrote this article on how to deal with guilt when you accidentally caused your dog’s death is because it’s happened to so many of us! We make mistakes, we can’t see into the future, we leave things open when they should’ve been closed….we’re human. We need to learn how to forgive ourselves.

    My prayer for you is that you find peace. May you forgive yourself for accidentally giving Pinto too much medication, and may you know deep in your heart that he is resting in peace. He is free from pain and suffering, and he doesn’t want you to suffer. He wants to be remembered with joy and love, not guilt and grief. I pray that you are able to accept that it was an accident — and that you know that not all symptoms of overdose are the same for all dogs. Not all dogs suffer before they die from an overdose, and I believe Pinto fell asleep and died peacefully.

    You may never fully get over the guilt and sadness you feel. You will grieve and your guilt will lighten, but you may always feel a shadow of sadness when you think of Pinto. This is normal, and part of being human. But, I really hope you forgive yourself for making an honest, innocent mistake. Living in shame and guilt is not healthy, and won’t be good for you or the beloved animals in your care.

    Blessings and sympathies,

  24. I have done the most terrible thing in my life, and I cannot get over it and don’t think I will for the rest of my life. 2 weeks ago I accidentally poisoned my dear sweet animal companion Pinto, by giving him an overdose of medicine. He scampered off a few minutes later and was never seen or found again. I know I overdosed him because I since learned that my dosing was wrong (I won’t go into full detail but my thinking was completely wrong), and that’s why he never returned. He would have died from neurological toxicity, and I’ve been so horrified looking up these symptoms of overdose and going over in my head what he must have gone through, and that I’d caused him harm. It’s like a nightmare I’ll never wake up from. I wish so much I could wake up and it was just a dream. The heartache is permanent. I love him and he trusted me and I never ever would have wished this on him but I made a tragic mistake, the worst mistake I have ever made in my life and will live with this for the rest of my life. I can honestly say I feel suicidal and if it wasn’t for the fact that I have a daughter and other companion animals who depend on me, I would honestly seriously think about taking an overdose of that same medicine myself – not as a cry for help, but to kill myself.

    • Please don’t keep beating yourself up you did not do it intentionally. I knew my dog wasn’t quite right for several weeks, didn’t think it was serious then she became critical and died , if only I had done something sooner she could still be alive. I know I loved her and I let her down and it is hard to live with but somehow we have to remember the love we shared and believe they felt that and we’re happy with us, and we have to keep sharing that love with other animal and human companions . We must learn from the past and that will help us to be better carers in the future but we musts never stop caring.

      • That’s how I felt about our little Yorkie puppy Millie. She was 11 weeks old when she died, we only had her for five days. She died on 4th November from dehydration and I blame myself for not spotting the early signs. I will live with this for the rest of my life. God bless you little Millie we loved you for such a short time. Goodnight Godbless.

    • I did the same thing and have been inconsolable for a year now. A year ago I was fighting to save my girl Ruby’s life. She was a rescue (got her from the shelter in 2003) around 12 yrs. old and so full of life still. At the recommendation of a friend, I gave my sweet girl some Rimadyl because her back legs seemed stiff. I only gave it to her for a couple days, then stopped giving it to her, except for once or twice the following weeks. A couple of weeks later Ruby started acting sick, then sicker and throwing up dinner. I took her to the vet and went over everything, and he asked what Rimadyl dosage I gave her and I had given too much! Like 1-1/2 to 2x too much! They did blood tests and her liver values were sky high. I was devastated and angry with myself for being so careless. I truly, to this day, hate myself for making such a fatal error. To make matters worse, I was so financially strapped, I waited a couple more days to admit her to the hospital for additional tests and to flush out her system. For two months we fought this. I’d think she was getting better, then there’d be a setback. Over and over. She got more and more wobbly. Then her back started going out I think because she jumped down off of something and I think she must have ruptured a herniated disk. By the end she was paralyzed in her hind legs, incontinent and miserable. I even built her a wheelchair, but she was so distressed we never really used it.

      If only I’d taken her to the vet when I first noticed her stiffness, she’d still be alive. It kills me because she was the sweetest, most beautiful loving girl. A big Boston Terrier, so loving and with the most trusting, warm brown eyes….and I betrayed that trust with my stupidity. I am so ashamed and grief-stricken. I miss her every second of every day.

      The overwhelming grief has lessened, but I still have fits of anguish. It doesn’t take much of a trigger to set me off in grief and self-loathing. Which is one of the most heartbreaking aspects of my experience because I feel it is so disrespectful to the memory of my sweet girl who was pure love and joy. She should be remembered with pure joy, but my inexcusable mistake has tainted that with sadness and guilt. I honestly think I have PTSD. I can’t stop hating myself for cutting her life short. I keep thinking she will come back to me. Like you said, I’ll wake up from this bad dream.

  25. Dear Michelle,

    I am so sorry that you accidentally caused your kitten’s death. It is a horrible experience, and nothing anybody can say will take away your pain, grief, and guilt. I can only imagine how sad you were to hold your kitten as he died, and to know that you caused the pain he felt.

    My heart goes out to you, and I am crying with you. If we were together in person, I would put my arms around you and cry right along with you. My heart is broken for you.

    You are in my prayers. I pray you find peace and healing, and that you are able to forgive yourself for this terrible accident. I pray you remember that this was indeed an accident, and that you did not deliberately cause your kitten to die! You never would have deliberately hurt your cat. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and if you could go back and change the way things turned out, you would! I pray you accept God’s peace and forgiveness, and that you know deep in your heart that your kitten forgives you. He is living in peace and freedom right now, and he wants you to be happy. He doesn’t like to see you in pain, and he wishes you could remember him with love and joy. He sends you soft furry hugs and snuggles, and wants you to be free from guilt and grief.

    In sympathy and with blessings,

  26. I’m struggling with the death of my baby kitten and it’s all my fault. Just a few hours ago I was on my way home from my boyfriend’s house. I knw that my kitten went under the car so many times before and I knw I should have checked where he was, but I didi’t cause he would always run inside as soon as I start my car. And as I reversed out I drove over my own little baby. Its so heartbreaking to have seen him in so much pain. We sat with him until he stoped breathing and I felt like I was dying on the inside. I feel so guilty, something like this has never happened to me ever. I just feel like dying, my little baby didnt deserve to die that way and I will never be able to live with this. It really breaks my heart and I cant stop crying.

  27. Mike, Shaun, Troy, HeartBrokenMom, Sue,

    I am so, so sorry for your loss. It’s horrible to find your beloved pet’s body — it’s the worst thing a dog or cat owner can imagine. The pain of knowing that we could have done something to prevent a dog or cat’s death is unbearable and overwhelming.

    Thank you for sharing your stories here. It takes alot of courage and strength to write about what happened. Can you see you are not alone in your grief and pain? Your experiences are different, but you are united in your grief and the feeling that you caused your pet’s death.

    Your pet’s death was caused by an accident. You did not mean for it to happen — I know you would do anything to turn back time and erase it! But it happened, and you need to find ways to deal with the guilt and forgive yourself.

    My prayer for you is that you find peace. May you forgive yourself for not being there, for somehow preventing your pet’s death. May you remember your dog or cat with love and joy —- and may you know, deep in your heart, that you did not cause your pet’s death. Please keep reminding yourself that it was an accident, and that there was nothing you could do. For some reason, it was time for your beloved pet to leave this world.

    Imagine your dog or cat now — free, happy, peaceful! Chasing mice and squirrels, enjoying all the treats and snoozes any pet could every want. Watching you with forgiveness, love, peace, and compassion. Loving you from afar, knowing how much you love and miss them. Your pet wants you to be free of the pain and grief and guilt you feel. Your pet wants you to remember him or her with love, freedom, joy, and a lightness only forgiveness can bring.

    Your dog forgives you. Your cat forgives you. You must forgive yourself, and let his or her soul rest in peace.

    In sympathy and with blessing,

    • Laurie,

      Thank you for your quick response and the kind words. I returned to work after being out for 6 months due to a injury, so today is the first time I’ve left for work without her being there. I’m trying to forgive myself and I know it will take time, but everything reminds me of her. I feel like I let her down. I neglected to mention that I have a wife and 8 year old child who miss her as well. My daughter is dealing with it pretty well (we told her the cat got sick and passed), but my wife has been inconsolable. It was her idea to get the cat in the first place, I just so happened to bond with her due to me having all that free time being off from work. I don’t want to forget her but every time I think of her I feel pain. Thank you again, your blog has helped me try and cope. I think I just need more time.


    • Thank you, Laurie. Your words are comforting. Kennedy was filled with love and something you said really resonated with me. She would not want us to feel guilty, she would want to make it all better–that’s just the kind of dog she was. So caring and intuitive. She always knew when we were sad. I miss her so much. Thank you for replying. And for helping me think about this differently and from what would have been Kennedy’s perspective. Much appreciated.

  28. I lost my kitten Shoosh this past this past Friday, 10/24. She was about three months old and just started climbing things on her own. I was leaving for work at around 6am and I left the bathroom door open in a rush. I also left the top lid of the toilet seat up. When I returned home from work I found her dead in the the toilet. I cannot stop crying whenever I think about her. She used to sleep on my chest whenever I took a nap on the couch. She would follow me constantly whenever I moved through the apartment. I hurt whenever I think about her. I see her face everytime I close my eyes. And all I can think about is how scared and alone she must have felt in her last moments. I took such good care of her when she was alive and all it took was one mistake and now shes gone. I cannot even think about forgiving myself. My home feels so quiet and empty without her. I dont know what to do.

  29. We lost our precious loving Kennedy, a 15 year old Schnauzer that has been part of our family pretty much since we became a family. We moved 3 years ago to CA and we have a pool in our back yard. The first few months we were very cautious of making sure both of our dogs knew of the pool and stayed away from it. They developed new backyard routines but we had no problems in the three years with them bothering the pool. Two nights ago we let Kennedy out to go potty as we do several times a day…we both got distracted with our 8 month old daughter and doing laundry and after some time we realized Kennedy never came back inside, or to the door to be let back in. We rushed outside and found her in the pool. She drowned. We are so overwhlemed with incredible guilt and feel like we let her down and, in some way, caused her death (or at least could have prevented it). We just go over and over in our minds how this could happen and how we could have let it happen. It is easily the worse feeling I have ever felt, far worse than losing loved ones to disease, or even the loss of our other dog, earlier this year, to a disease. The hole in my heart and the pain is not something I can even articulate. I feel so lost.

  30. I accidentally killed my German Sepherd with rat poison. We had moved to a new house that had a basement which the previous owners had layed with rat poison. Our first night in the new house we had closed the basement door before going to bed but later we found the door is faulty and opens easily with a gust of air or a light nudge.

    The first night we were there my dog found his way into the basement and ate some of the poison. We woke up to him howling and whining in pain. I began frantically ringing around looking for a vet that was open 3 am in the morning. We decided to take him down to an animal hospital that was 2 hours away. He was in so much pain and inconsolable, his eyes were filled with fear and confusion, I will never forget the look on his face and his haunting screaming and howling with pain. As we were driving him to the hospital he made one last yelping sound before going silent. At that moment my heart sank as I knew he had passed. This guilt will always remain with me.

  31. I lost my beautiful little springer yesterday I noticed weeks ago that she was less tolerant of exercise but didn’t do what I knew I should ie get her to the vet for blood tests then she became critically ill with autoimmune haemolytic anaemia and couldn’t be saved. She would have had a good chance of survival if I had done something sooner. I feel so angry with myself I loved Aimee so much and I let her down so badly

  32. Dear Sally,

    Thank you for being here – I’m so sorry you lost Milly at such a young age. What a terrible experience, and such a huge loss.

    May you find healthy ways to deal with the guilt you feel about your dog’s death. I hope you can see it wasn’t your fault, it was a horrible accident that took her life. May you find peace and acceptance, and come to remember Milly with love and even joy. She is resting in peace, and watching you with all the devotion she had for you when she was alive. She wants you to remember her without pain or sadness.

    In sympathy,

  33. Thank you for writing about how to deal with guilt after your pet dies. I feel like I caused my dog’s death by not feeding him healthier food. He was overweight most of his life and I didn’t give him healthy treats. He ate table scraps most of the time. He died at 11 years old but I think he would’ve lived longer if I had fed him good dog food.

  34. We had to have our beautiful 5 year old dog put to sleep on Sunday, up until 9 pm on Saturday evening she had been a perfectly healthy happy dog she had been out for 3 walks on Saturday the last one being at 7 pm. Unfortunately I had been in and out all day but the kids had been around and they had walked her and they say nothing was different. I got back at around 9pm and took her and the other dog in the car to drop some things off at my ex partners they both went in his house Milly had jumped in the car fine and got out and ran in to his fine she then was sick all over we thought it was our daughter screaming and being really giddy that had upset her but after I returned home she was sick again. I got her to the vets not long after and they said her temp, heart rate, breathing and tummy were all fine so she probably had gastritis from something shed eaten which she shouldnt have which would be quite normal for her she was a bit of a monkey like that. Anyway I was sent home with her after she had anti sickness jab and I had to give her doggie diorylite every hour which I did, she continued to be sick then wanted to go in the garden I went with her to see f she had been sick but she was trying to bury herself in a corner, I immediately picked her up and took her back to the vets and had to leave her there although even at this point they said apart from dehydration she seemed ok. About an hour later I received the worst call ever that with or without treatment she had less than 2% chance of survival. We had to have her put to sleep at the vets as she was too ill to come home to rest we sat with her for over an hour before and after. I really cant getr out of my head that I may have missed something earlier that could have saved her. I feel sick cant eat sleep feel like I cant breathe and we hav the other dog who is missing her soo much she was a year older than him. I really cant cope with anything at the momnent not being around people or anything I feel so bad that it must have been my fault somehow.

  35. It’s that quiet time of mid-night, with tears streaming down my face, as I try to process the tragic loss my daughter is facing right now. She called me earlier this evening and through her gut-wrenching cries, I was able to piece together what happened to her newly beloved cat, Elsa.
    You see, my oldest daughter and her long-time partner had just returned home to their apartment after joining us on vacation. She was busily trying to step back into the realm of everyday life life, along with the addition of caring for our home & pets. As well, they were cleaning up to tackle the last phase of eliminating a flea infestation brought on by the most unfortunate pet-care habits of their neighbors. She got ready and left for work. She told him to do the laundry. Somehow, someway, Elsa made her way into the dryer with the laundry…. despite every attempt possible, she didn’t survive.
    My daughter got the call while she was at work. I stayed with her on speaker phone, just talking her through her drive to the emergency vet clinic, telling her much the same things I’ve just lovingly read here. It was just heart-breaking. And even I went through moments where I questioned why/how and was angry. Even though truly, It was just a reaction to the utter shock & despair at such a horrific accident.
    But now alone with my thoughts, I’m absolutely beside myself with Grief for them :( I can’t imagine the enormity of guilt of guilt they are enduring as I think about what happened and listen to her try to articulate it all. I’m so incredibly sad that they have to find a way to live with this for all-time. That they will find pain in comforting each other rather than the safety and trust they’re used to. I pray that she can forgive. I pray that neither becomes suicidal with the overwhelming pain. I pray that love will be enough. And, I pray with my total being, that Elsa didn’t suffer. All this is made so much worse with guilt. My daughter feels guilt for asking him to do laundry and being gone, he feels guilt for not preventing it and protecting Elsa in her absence, even I feel guilt! Months ago I warned them about cats jumping into warm dryers. I had a collegue that this happened to years ago and since their washer and dryer is easily accessible in their hallway, I morbidly mentioned it. A dreaded “I told you so”… Elsa was a very fast, very curious and very confident “tween-ager” and I was being “mom”. And, the fore-warning didn’t work.
    I wish so badly I could turn back the hands of time or protect them from this tragedy. It’s just so awful, the events and conversations just seem to play over and over in my head like a movie even though I was, and am still, so far away. It’s all so heart-breaking. I can’t sleep through all the worry. My heart and prayers go out to each and every one of you. To know that we aren’t alone and be able to write honestly about it is at least a token of comfort, for which I’m eternally grateful <3
    Thank you

  36. Thank-you for the kind article.

    I also feel so incredibly guilty about my cats death. I can barely make it through the day without breaking down in tears. I can’t stop crying as I write this :(

    I had a beautiful Siamese cat named Hollybell that died last Tuesday. She was 21 which is a very advanced age for a cat and I’m lucky to have had her for so long. I live with my parents, and although they loved her as well, she was without question my cat. Completely devoted to me. She slept on my bed or on a heating pad that I set up on my chair.

    Well 3 weeks ago, my brother asked me to apartment sit in order to look after his 2 young cats while he was away and while I was over at my brother’s apartment, my beautiful Hollybell died.

    I just feel so sick. My brother lives like 10 minutes away from my home and I easily could have come home to stay with Holly at night. In fact that was my initial plan, but I was having such a good time at my brother’s apartment, that I took for granted how sick she was. I kept reassuring myself that I would be home in a few days and then she’d have me all to herself again.

    Then last Monday and Tuesday, my parents kept calling me – but I ignored them because usually they call to nag. (I love them dearly but they nag a lot) And I was just having too much fun to be bothered.

    I genuinely don’t know how to move past this. Everything I see in my room reminds me of Holly and I feel like I can’t breathe.

    I just feel sick that I wasn’t there for her when she needed me the most. My parents were there and they’re kind people but they didn’t pet her often or care for her like I did. Holly spent most of her time on my bed in my room. I genuinely don’t think I deserve to be forgiven. I feel like because animals are so pure of heart, they’re a lot like very young children and it was my responsibility to keep Holly safe and loved and when she needed me the most I was off having a good time somewhere else.

  37. Dear Vanessa,

    What a very tragic ordeal you’ve experienced with your cat. It is awful and heartbreaking that he is gone, and that you never got a chance to say good-bye.

    One thing it’s important to remember is that it’s possible that his condition was too far gone to be treated. It could’ve been cancer or a serious bladder disease, and treating illnesses like that put way more stress on a poor animal than letting him go. Resting in peace is sometimes the most loving thing we can do for our pets.

    I think the hard thing is that you never got to say good-bye. You didn’t make the decision to let him go, and you were shocked that he’s not here anymore. The disbelief and grief is overwhelming, and you never had a chance to prepare yourself for this.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you. I pray you’re able to forgive yourself and deal with whatever guilt you feel about your cat’s death. I hope you can see that he may have been in pain, and that perhaps the shelter’s decision to let him rest in peace may have been the best option. There may have been no better alternative, without causing him further pain and suffering.

    Your cat loved you very much, and he is still in your heart and soul. He doesn’t want you to suffer when you think about him! He is not in any pain, and he is resting in the peace and joy that only God can bring. He wants you to remember him with love and serenity, not peace, angst, or guilt. May your mind, heart, and soul be filled with acceptance and peace, and may you grieve your loss without feeling like you did him wrong. You didn’t do wrong.

    In sympathy,

  38. I feel responsible for my cats death. He was only two years old we got him and his sister at the same time. Anyway for the past two months he started urinating outside the litter box on the bathroom floor. Then we started noticing blood in it, I couldn’t afford to take him to the vet at this time so I called everywhere possible for help with him. No one was wanting to help me. I did some research and tried giving him natural medicine, for a while it was seeming to help he wasn’t hiding as much and was eating better and there was no blood. Saturday I woke up to blood all over the bathroom I panicked and called the animal rescue league. I figured he would be better off if I surrendered him and they would give him the help he needed. I dropped him off and they brought him out back. The next day we called to check on him and we’re trying to figure a way to adopt him back. We were then notified right after he was dropped off they euthanized him. I never got to say goodbye, I feel like they should have treated him and adopted him out. If would have known they were gonna kill him right away without trying to treat him first o would have figured something else out and not have surrendered him. O still can’t believe he’s gone and am in denial. I loved him so much. I was just trying to get him medical treatment an antibiotic no one would help him with that but they would help kill him? It’s all my fault I’ll never get over it.

    • I am so sorry for your loss and pain. You did the best you could for him and there is no way you could of known they would put him down when you tried to get help. They should of let you know the process. Usually they wait for a period of time and then proceed if nobody adopts it. The cat must of been sick enough for them to think that was the best thing to do. Try and remember all the good times you had. Our dog was hit and killed by a car last weekend and I feel exactly like you. She was always running accross the road to chase squirrels, chipmunks, you name it. We told her over and over again to stay in the yard even though we live on a not very busy street where people are usually careful. She crossed the road just as some guy going way to fast came barreling down the road and hit her while I was outside with her. I felt compelled to write to you to let you know you are not alone in the guilt and pain. It was my fault as I knew I needed to get her in the house and I was distracted by a phone call. I loved her so very much and feel extra bad because she was my 17 year old daughter’s dog. My daughter has sufferred from depression and the dog helped her through some tough times. I started writing all the wonderful things she did a long with some of the naughty ones and it helps me remember her when she was with us and happy. Know there are others that feel like you and try not to blame yourself. You did everything you could for him and loved him a lot or you wouldn’t care this much.

  39. Dear Jay,

    I’m sorry you lost your cat in such a sad way, and that you’re still struggling with the guilt and grief. It’s been almost two years, and it sounds like it’s still quite painful for you. I don’t know what happened to your relationship – were you able to forgive her? Whether or not you stayed together and got married, forgiveness is a crucial aspect to moving on. Have you forgiven yourself?

    My thought is that it might be wise for you to talk to a counselor about your feelings. You need to process the pain and guilt, and it isn’t happening on your own. You need to find a way to lift the burden of the terrible guilt you feel, and accept that your boy died the way he did. It wasn’t anybody’s fault…it was a tragic accident. It’s so sad and almost unbearable, but you need to find a way to heal. You can’t keep living like this, with the burden of pain, grief, and guilt.

    My prayer for you is that you find freedom and forgiveness. May you accept your boy’s death as a sad accident, and may your heart and soul heal from the devastating grief and guilt. May you come to terms with how he died, and with your feelings of failure for not being there to protect your cat. I pray that you feel a spiritual release — maybe even that your boy’s spirit rests on you and tells you that he is happier now, more peaceful now, and watching you with love. May you feel your cat’s sadness that you can’t move on…and may you find strength and courage to forgive yourself, even if just to release your cat from the pain of watching you in so much pain. I pray you connect with God, and become whole, healthy, and happy again. Amen.

    Blessings and sympathy,

  40. So, my issue occurred almost two years ago. My fiancé at the time neglected to check details and killed my beloved little boy cat in the washing machine. Just losing him after 12 years was so hard, but the way happened was even worse. Knowing how loving he always was and how was like my little shadow. Months after that my fiancé left me. I learned to forgive her for the mistake, but I feel terrible guilt myself to this day. It was the one time I didn’t do our laundry. I feel like I failed at protecting him. That if I would have done simple things differently he’d still be here. It still hurts me to my core. Anyone have advice or a way to deal with that feeling in a constructive way?

    Thank you

    • Hi Jay,
      I can identify with what you say so much, and also with the fact that it still haunts you after all this time.
      I experienced something slightly different with my cat (years ago), but can’t shake the guilt either.
      I just hope we can adjust (for the lack of a better word) better to our respective situations than we did up till now. In sympathy,

      • I can identify with your sorrow. I too was careless with details on a busy day and accidentally left my dog out and he died of heatstroke yesterday. If only I had been more alert and careful. The feeling of guilt is overwhelming.

  41. Dear Trixie,

    I am so sorry you lost your dog. I let mine off leash all the time, and I always say a prayer for safety! It’s always a risk — but for me, the risk is worth it. The joy and happiness our dogs feel when they run off leash is amazing, so I always let them go….and I always hope they come back safe. We have owls in our forest, and that’s one of my main worries for my little dog, Tiffy.

    An accidental death is so difficult, so shocking. It’s unbelievable, isn’t it? One minute your dog is there, the next…she’s gone. My prayer for you as you go through the grief process is that you find peace. May you deal with whatever guilty feelings you have about your dog’s death, and may you forgive yourself. May you know deep in your heart and soul that this was an accident, that you would have done anything to protect your dog from dying. May you find forgiveness and peace as you heal from the pain of this loss. And, may you know that your dog forgives you, loves you with all her heart, and wants you to live in freedom. She doesn’t want you to be burdened with guilt. She is frolicking in Heaven, and she is safe! She doesn’t want you to be in pain. May you find your way to the freedom of forgiveness and peace, my friend. Amen.

    In sympathy,

  42. Today I took my dog for a run on this lovely wooded path by my cottage. I have been letting her run off leash because she had a remarkable amount of energy and loved to frolic. Trixie has been responding well when I tell her to stop or sit. She was also very attached to me so would never stray that far. I decided to do two loops of the trail but unexpectedly trixie bolted across the highway at the point we usually cross at the return home. But level of guilt is beyond words. If only I put the leash on her to walk the part of the path along where you can access the highway. It hurts so much because she is gone and there is nothing to do to bring her back. I drove to the vet just in case by some miracle she could be saved but it was no use. She was gone by the time we got there. I just hope the last words she heard was that I loved her more than I have ever loved anything. We were kindered spirits.

    • Trixie, I am so sorry for you terrible loss. It’s been a week since my Zephyr died and the pain is still as wide and deep as an ocean. Dealing with the guilt is no small task. I’ve tried to see the whole thing from a place of innocence. You innocently let your girl run off leash because you knew how much joy it gave her. That’s love. Your joy and her joy were bound together. The unexpected twist of fate seems so utterly cruel. How can we lose that being that we loved more than anything in a blink of an eye. It hurts. I sympathize with you as you enter this journey. The hardest one I’ve ever been on. But, people keep telling me that Zephyr or Trixie is as close as your own heart. Always. I try to believe it. I hope you can too.

  43. Dear Zephyr’s mom,

    Thank you for being here, and for sharing your tragic story with us. You loved him so much, and you accidentally caused his death. It’s such a difficult thing to reconcile, and make peace with.

    My prayer for you is that you are able to forgive yourself, and that you feel the peace of Zephyr’s forgiveness deep in your soul. May you be confident that not only does Zephyr forgive you, but he wants you to remember him with love, joy, and serenity. I also pray you find the right people and books to help you deal with the guilt you feel about causing your dog’s death.

    Thoughts of suicide are very serious, and I encourage you to talk to a counselor or call a suicide help line. You wouldn’t be helping your dog if you killed yourself. Instead, I pray you are able to take your pain and grief, and somehow use it to inspire or heal other people. Don’t let this tragic accident consume you, or define you.

    I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

    Sincerely, in sympathy,

    • Dear Laurie,
      Thank you for this beautiful space in which those who are overcome by guilt can reach out. You must be a very good person, a dog-like person (which is the best kind). I will try to take to heart your advice to turn the pain and grief toward something good. I am still hurting but not as hysterical as when I first wrote on your blog. I still stagger under the guilt and replay the fateful event in my mind over and over. Thank you again for taking the time to reply. May you be well and happy.

  44. Dear all,
    This afternoon I decided to let the dogs out of the car to run alongside. We do that occasionally because they love it so much. And, it is so fun to see them so happy. In an instant, I thought I hit a rock, but it was my little beloved dog Zephyr. He died instantly. He was the light of my life. He was always at my feet while I read or worked. He traveled the world with me. Kept me sane during hard years doing fieldwork in Africa. He knew if I was sad and would cuddle up with me. A truly great soul. Sometimes, my love was so strong that I felt like he was an extension of myself, my soul dog. And, I killed him! I feel like killing myself. I can’t see straight. My world feels as if its crumbled. I don’t know how anyone lives through such pain. But, it seems some of you have done it or are doing it. I wish you strength and peace. Thank you for sharing your stories so that others don’t feel so alone.

  45. Dear HeartBrokenMom,

    Thank you for sharing your experience here…I am so sad for you and your dogs. I can only imagine how devastated you are. I have two dogs, and they are the center of my life. But even so, I can see how it can happen, to be caught up in the rush of the day and forget that they aren’t right by my side. I understand how it can happen, and I don’t blame you in the least. My heart breaks for you, though, because it is such a difficult thing to forgive yourself for.

    I encourage you to talk to a grief counselor. I think that this is such a traumatizing thing, that the guilt of leaving your dogs in the truck is so devastating that you might need help processing your pain. I encourage you to talk to a counselor about the experience, and ask for help finding ways to forgive yourself. You need to work through this with someone who can help you deal with your feelings of self-recrimination and pain, who can help you find your way to forgiving yourself.

    Will you call a grief counselor, and take time to work through your guilt with her? For your own sake, for your healing?

    My prayer for you is that you find the right counselor to talk to, and that you see yourself with God’s love, compassion, and forgiveness. May you grieve the death of your beloved dogs, and may you see your way clear to releasing yourself from the burden of the black heaviness of guilt. May you find peace, compassion, and faith – and may you get emotionally and spiritually centered so you get past this horrible time. Amen.

    Blessings – please do come back and let me know how you are.


    • Hi Laurie

      Im sorry I didn’t realize anyone had written me…Thank you for your reply and kind words and advice.
      I have come back to this site on my husbands suggestion, to read etc as I havent been doing well at all. I thought I was, but now I’ve been having anxiety attacks when I think of them…I havent been able to come to terms with what I did. I have thought about seeking counseling, but I just don’t know if I could.
      My family tells me to forgive myself, but I can’t seem to :(
      The guilt is just so heavy.

  46. I’m struggling so badly with the recent death of my dogs. I don’t even know if I’m writing this in the right space…my head is a mess.
    I caused my dog’s death. I can’t get over it. I’m trying hard, but the guilt is so overwhelming I can’t breathe. I feel like my husband and son are getting fed up with me, because I just break down.
    I love my dogs so much. I don’t even understand how it could have happened.
    I took them out for their daily run, and when we returned, they were in the back of my truck. I had groceries in the front. I backed into my driveway, grabbed my groceries, brought my groceries in….and that was it. I spoke to my son for a minute who was just leaving, and then I started returning phone calls, emails, went on with my day.
    I just left them. I completely forgot my dogs were in the truck. I don’t understand how I could do something so heartless. I loved them more than anything. They were my whole world. I had this same routine for 6 years. Every day. How could I just forget my babies? How could I be so cruel and cause them so much pain?
    I didn’t even realize until a couple hours later. I was devastated. I found them, I screamed and screamed, I shook them, I begged them to wake up. It was a horrifying nightmare and I just cant get passed it. How could I give them such a good life, everything they needed and beyond, and just forget my babies?
    I can’t stop picturing them in there, the pain and confusion, I feel like I broke their hearts. I feel guilty, I feel lost, and heartbroken. I feel like the moment I catch myself not thinking about them, that I’m awful for it, or if I catch myself laughing at something my husband or son said, I feel like I’m awful for trying to pretend it didn’t happen.
    I honestly don’t know what to do at this point. I’m so sad without them with me. I just don’t understand.
    We had been preparing for one death, because one of our dogs was sick with cancer, but to all of a sudden lose both, and in such a horrible way….I just can’t deal with it and I don’t know what to do:(

    • Dear Heartbroken Mom,
      I am so very sorry for your loss. I also lost my dog almost 3 weeks ago, and every day I miss her terribly. I posted here a few weeks ago, because I couldn’t stop going over and over the illness with which she was struggling, trying to figure out what I could’ve done differently. I have never posted in a forum like this, but I am glad that I did.

      There isn’t anything that anyone can say, really, that makes the pain of the loss go away. When it comes down to it, what is REAL in the situation is the sadness of your loss and the emptiness in your heart. Guilt is one of those really challenging emotions that rears its ugly head anytime something tragic happens — even if feelings of guilt are completely unwarranted in the situation.

      One of my good friends reminded me that we are never really “cured’ of our heartache. Instead, we start to heal. Healing is almost impossible when guilt is overwhelming. It is so clear that you would do anything — ANYTHING — you could to change the events of that afternoon. As impossible as it may seem to you, you need to forgive yourself and realize that what happened was completely an accident. We all make mistakes. Sometimes, they don’t matter and sometimes they do. Either way, though, you have to come to realize that INTENT does matter and the love you had and gave to your dogs is NOT lessened by the fact that a terrible accident occurred.

      Like you, I have children and each time I started to feel happy about anything in the last few weeks (whether it be because they said something funny or were happy about something), I felt like I was betraying my dog by finding joy. But then I thought about her, and the love and joy she found in everything….and what I realized is that the best thing I could do to remember her, and to make her “spirit” live on, is to try to live my life like she lived hers. She was full of life and joy and love – – and rather than rip myself apart with guilt — I decided to be thankful that I had the opportunity to love and know her.

      My 5-year old son has been a great teacher throughout this. He cried and cried about her death. Yet, he finds ways to remember her and when he does — he does not cry. Instead, he smiles. For example, he said the clouds reminded him of her (she was a white standard poodle, so that makes sense). Then he said that a shadow that came through the car window looked like she did when she “smiled” while going with us in the car to just about anywhere. Today, he asked a clown to make him a balloon of a poodle….which he brought to me and said, “Here. Mom, this will remind you of Tilly — doesn’t that make you feel better?”

      So, when I think of her now, I try not to fixate on how or why she died, but instead I think about how she lived. With your dogs, it is clear that you loved them very much and I am sure that you and the two of them had many beautiful, fun times together. You need to start thinking more about those — even if it makes you cry a little harder at the start. You won’t ever erase the trauma of the accident from your mind, but you can try to fill your heart with memories of the many, many good times that they had WITH YOU.

      Laurie, the moderator of this site, recommended that I read a book called “Stitches” by Anne Lamott and I’ve found it to be very comforting. I’ve also spent some time reading “When Things Fall Apart” by Pema Chodron and, even though I’ve read it before, it has really helped me embrace both suffering and compassion as being a part of loving and living.

      Peace to you.

      • I didn’t realize anyone had replied to me. Thank you for that. I actually came back to this site, as my husband suggest to, to read more stories etc as I am still struggling so much. I thought I was doing better, but lately, in the last week or so, I’ve been visualizing when I found them…I try not to, but can’t seem to help it and it’s triggered some anxiety attacks. I’m not sure how else to handle it so I thought Id take his advice to come seek other stories, mutual dog owners etc

        Thank you for the kind words, it helps to think there are actually people that wouldn’t critizie or judge me. I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders, but it’s nice to hear someone say kind words that are not cruel or judgmental.

        I’m sorry for your loss of Tilly…I wish I knew the words to say, but struggling so bad with my loss, I just dont think there are words:(

  47. Dear SadMom,

    Thank you for being here, and sharing how Tilly’s life with us. She will be remembered, and her spirit is moving through the internet! She was an awesome dog, and you’ll probably miss her for the rest of your days. Dogs are like that – they get into our very souls, and we’re never the same without them.

    I’m reading Anne Lamott’s book called Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair. If you haven’t read Lamott’s nonfiction books, I encourage you to! Her latest one – Stitches – is about living through tragedy and pain, and trying to move forward through loss. One thing she says, which I really believe, is that we never fully recover from loss. We will always be broken and sad, and that’s normal because we lost something we loved so much!

    Maybe the pain we feel – the guilt we’re experiencing at the loss of our pets – will never fully go away. We learn to live with it, but our sadness is part of who we are. We can’t expect to love so deeply, and recover fully when our beloved is taken away from us.

    I encourage you to read Anne Lamott’s book, and I pray it’ll be the light you need to get you through the worst of the grief.


    • Laurie,
      Thanks for your note. You captured how I feel perfectly. I want to transform the pain of her loss into the love that is at the root of the loss. I don’t want to “learn to live with” the pain or the loss, but — on the other hand, like you said, I don’t want to have my heart mend completely, because I still want a piece of it to be with her. I guess being human requires us to feel both.

      I love Anne Lamott (I read some of her earlier stuff in college and grad school), but not this one. In fact, I didn’t know about it. Even the name sounds like what I want to do re:the loss of Tilly — find meaning, and rediscover hope. I just miss her so much and want to figure out how to make something beautiful from and of that. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the recommendation. Also, thanks for your words. They gave me comfort. It makes me sad to think that others who post on this blog are feeling the same emptiness, but I’m also comforted that so many of you and us had dogs to love.

      They really are the best, aren’t they?

      Thanks and peace,
      Tilly’s mom

      • Laurie,
        It’s been a few weeks since your replied to my posting about my dog, Tilly. I did take your advice and am reading “Stitches.” I actually started with the Anne Lamott book it followed, “Help. Thanks. Wow” and have taken away a lot from both.

        Not a day goes by that I don’t miss my girl with all my heart. But, as I wrote to another one of the people who posted in your forum, my 5-year old son has reminded me that thinking often of her is the best way I can appreciate just what a huge joy she was in our lives. I’m trying to live like she did — with joy and love in every moment. Doing that has allowed my heart to ache and swell with love at the same time. Maybe that sounds corny, but it is really how I feel. I so wish she could be here with us right now and the sadness isn’t getting any better. But, gratitude, appreciation, compassion and love are keeping that sadness company and that’s ok by me.

        Thanks again for your help. I think you do a wonderful job helping all of us who have gone through the heartbreak of losing our dogs.

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