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…
These national parks are stunning in the fall – and allow your dog to visit, too
These 4 beautiful national parks have pet-friendly attractions
Couple looking at map on fall trail with dog.

With cooler fall temperatures just around the corner, pet parents dream of taking their dogs on long outdoor adventures. Some might even be planning pet-friendly getaways. Autumn is certainly a wonderful time to get outside and enjoy nature, and where better to do this than in a U.S. national park? Many of these wonderful parks are pet-friendly. Here we highlight four national parks that are incredible in the fall and perfect for both of you.

Are dogs allowed in national parks?
The good news is that most national parks do allow pets in some areas and under certain conditions. Only a few deny pets in all parts of the park — so you can easily plan an outing or vacation for you and your four-legged friend. However, it's important to follow the rules, especially when it comes to hiking and wildlife. The National Park Service uses the acronym B.A.R.K. to sum up the four basic principles you should follow while in the parks with your pets. It stands for:

Read more
These are the 6 dog breeds that shed most in fall
Fall-shedding dog breeds and how to cut down on fur at home
A pomeranian with a yellow background

We love a lot about fall — the crisp breezes, the indescribable scent in the air, and the glorious colors as the temperatures begin to dip. One thing we don't love as much? The piles and piles of dog hair. Many canines go through a shed in the spring, but some breeds also lose their hair in the fall. Wondering what dog breed sheds the most? Which pets force you to use the vacuum more frequently during the autumn season? We're here to tell you what dog breeds shed in the fall.

Why do some dogs have double coats?
Let's cover why dogs shed in the first place. While many dog breeds have single coats, some dogs are double-coated dogs, meaning they have a top coat, known as a guard coat, and a secondary undercoat made up of short, dense hairs, called an undercoat.

Read more
5 incredible things to do with dogs in Florida this fall
Your dog can hit the beach, stay at Disney World, and learn to paddle board in the Sunshine State
Border collie catching yellow frisbee on beach

If you’re suffering from a bad case of wanderlust but aren’t crazy about leaving your favorite furry family member behind while you travel, consider booking a trip to Florida. Bordered on both sides by hundreds of miles of beaches, the Sunshine State produces the most oranges in America and is home to the most golf courses of any state.

It seems the state has literally rolled out the welcome mat for you and your favorite canine companion, too, with a variety of dog-friendly beaches, lodgings, restaurants, bars, parks, and activities to choose from. Don’t worry if you don’t know where to start — we’ve got you covered. These are the top things to do with dogs in Florida that will be a great time for both of you.

Read more