Skip to main content

PawTracks may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

6 meaningful ways to honor a beloved pet who passed

Our animal companions are members of the family, and when they die, it can be every bit as painful as losing human loved ones. For some pet parents, this grief comes in stages, in which they may feel denial, anger, guilt, depression, and eventually acceptance. Others experience a series of ups and downs as they mourn the loss of their animal companion. Following are six meaningful ways to honor a beloved pet who has died that also help you work through your grief.

Hold a pet memorial service

A memorial service is a great way to honor your pet’s life. You can hold the service at your home or let professionals at a pet cemetery or crematory manage the details. According to, many funeral homes also offer pet memorial services, so you can check at businesses near you. Wherever you hold the service, invite family and friends who were close to your pet and understand your pain. Consider placing a photo of your pet in the memorial service space along with accessories such as a collar and leash and maybe a favorite toy. Experts at recommend a candle-lighting ceremony as part of the service. A meaningful way to do this might be to have each person share a memory of your beloved pet as they light a candle.

Man crying at pet memorial.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Put together a photo album

Creating a pet remembrance book is another great way to honor your animal companion. Most pet parents take hundreds of photos throughout a pet’s life. Scroll through your saved photos and choose those that reflect the precious moments in your friend’s life. You can use an online photo service such as Shutterfly to help in putting together a pet photo book. If you prefer to do it yourself, you can purchase a decorative photo book. Consider choosing an album that provides space for writing captions beside each image. Describing what’s happening in the photos will help you remember all the happy times you spent with your pet.

Donate to a charity in memory of your pet

If your deceased pet was a rescue, consider donating in his memory to the animal welfare organization that took care of him before he became part of your family. If your pet was a purebred purchased from a breeder or pet store, you can donate to a rescue working with that breed in memory of your loved one. Pet parents who make a donation to Best Friends Animal Society in honor of a deceased pet can pay tribute to their loved one as part of the nonprofit’s monthly Angels Rest blessing ceremonies. Best Friends also will help pet parents who want to set up a fundraiser in honor of their pet.

Create a memory box

As you work through the grief of losing a beloved pet, there are so many reminders. Your dog’s collar and leashes hanging just inside the door, doggie raincoats or winter jackets in the hall closet, comfy beds strewn around the house, and a basket spilling over with favorite toys. Some pet parents find it impossible to part with their deceased friend’s belongings, others get solace from sharing them with the pets of family and friends or donating them to shelters. Some pet parents create memory boxes where they keep some of their pet’s precious belongings. These items might include a collar, leash, ID tags, a favorite toy, and ribbons or training certificates that bring back fond memories.

Commission a painting

Many grieving pet parents commission oil, pastel, or acrylic portraits of their deceased pet. They hang the paintings in a central place in the home where they serve as a lasting memory to their deceased loved one. Scrolling through the Pet Portrait Artists Facebook group page is a great way to view how different artists work and find a style that would best honor your pet. You can also reach out to your veterinarian, groomers, or even pet stores to see if they can recommend a pet portrait artist.

Create a memorial garden

Creating a memorial garden is another great way to remember your pet. If you were allowed to bury your pet’s remains or ashes on your property, then planting a garden at the burial site makes sense. Otherwise, when considering a good spot for a memorial garden, think about whether you want it close to the house so you can see it from a window, or maybe choose a favorite spot on your property where your dog liked to lie. When choosing plants, think about how you want the garden to look through the seasons, writes Bonnie L. Grant, a certified urban agriculturalist, in an article published on Gardening Know How. If your pet loved water, consider incorporating a pond or birdbath into the garden design. Wind chimes and stone markers or benches engraved with a pet’s name help mark the garden as a sacred space.

Dog memorial stone.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

No matter which way you choose to honor your beloved pet, it’s important to know that grieving takes time. Surround yourself with people who understand your pain and will listen when you need to speak about your loss. Eventually, you will find peace and comfort when you remember the loving years you shared with your precious friend.

Editors' Recommendations

Vera Lawlor
Vera was the pet columnist for 201 Family magazine and has contributed pet and animal welfare articles to Bone-A-Fide Mutts…
How to find the right veterinarian for your pet
Getting your pet the best medical care will improve and prolong their life
Veterinarian examining cat while little boy watches

Taking your dog or cat to the vet might cause you some anxiety, especially if you're doing so for the first time. Trust us, it makes pet ownership so much more enjoyable when you have an animal doctor that both of you like. Choosing the right veterinarian for your beloved companions may not be easy, but it's certainly worth it — you'll have a better time caring for your animals, and they will stick around longer with excellent medical attention. Here's how to choose a vet.
When should I look for a vet?

We hate to add to your checklist, but you probably want to look at vets before you even bring home a dog or cat. It can take time and lots of phone calls to different places before you figure out the right fit — meaning a practice that suits your needs and budget and has availability.

Read more
Is a Belgian Malinois a good family dog? Everything you need to know about this amazing dog breed
Belgian Malinois breed description, family behavior, and more
A Belgian Malinois leaps through a meadow of dandelions

If you're considering opening up your home to a new four-legged family member, there may be a lot of thoughts swimming through your mind. This is totally normal. Bringing home a new pet is a big change, so it's only natural (and responsible) to think through every aspect of the decision before you commit. One thing you may be considering is which dog breed would be best for your home. Although you may not be able to hand-pick your perfect breed when adopting a pet from a shelter, knowing a bit about the most common dog breeds can help you make an informed choice.
The Belgian Malinois is a breed often seen in cities, suburbs, and farms, though it's often mistaken for an entirely different dog -- the German shepherd. While they are related, these breeds are completely separate from one another. Familiarizing yourself with Belgian Malinois characteristics and traits will help you decide whether this may be a breed for your family, but first, we'll have to ask -- is a Belgian Malinois a good family dog?
Let's find out everything there is to know about this strong and loyal dog breed.

Belgian Malinois breed characteristics

Read more
Family member allergic to cats? Where to find hypoallergenic cats for adoption
Here's how you can have a cat even if you have allergies
Bengal cat peering around a row of potted plants

While our opinions may differ on innumerable issues, there is a universal constant we can all agree on: No one enjoys suffering from allergies. If you're dealing with itchy eyes, a running nose, constant sneezing, coughing, wheezing, or even hives, then you're suffering from an allergy to something in your immediate environment.
Maybe it's just pollen, but it can also be ... your cat. Cat allergies are relatively common, but just because someone in your family has cat allergies doesn't mean you have to give up your dream of being a cat parent. From bathing your cat to allergy treatments, there are a few tips you can use to limit exposure to allergens. Even better, you might even find the purr-fect solution waiting for you in a local shelter. Keep reading to learn more about hypoallergenic cats for adoption.

Should I adopt a cat if I'm allergic?

Read more