How to help a friend deal with the loss of a pet

Losing a four-legged friend can be an absolutely gutting experience.

Our little pals provide us with friendship, aroha, and serve as trusty sidekicks. When they pass away, it can leave us feeling lost without them.

When you have a mate who is grieving the loss of their furry friend, you can help them through with a bit of support and thoughtfulness.

Provide support for your friend

One of the best things you can do for your friend is to simply lend an ear – you’ve got two, right? Make them a cuppa and let them talk about their pet and what they meant to them. 

We Kiwis are a tough bunch, so yarning about our feelings is not always easy. Take the lead and open up that conversation and help your mate to heal.

Help them celebrate their pet’s life

One way to help your friends deal with their loss is to encourage them to celebrate their pet’s life. 

They’ve had a good time with their late pet, so encourage them to share memories and photos or have a small memorial service to say goodbye. It hurts to lose a pet but remembering the good times you’ve had can help us look back and smile.

Be there for them

The death of a pet can be a painful process, so it’s important to be there for your friend during this time. 

Offer to help them with anything they may need, whether it’s taking care of other pets or being a shoulder to cry on. Just knowing that you’re there for them can make a world of difference.

Supporting a grieving friend: The do’s and don’ts

Navigating the minefield that is grief can be hard work. There is no wrong or right way to do it. The best you can do is to support your friend. Listen and let them know that you are there. If you are not sure where to start, saying that you are sorry for their loss can let them know you care.


  • Listen to them. Let them talk about their pet and the good times with them. Don’t try to fix their feelings or tell them to toughen up.
  • Spend time with them. Just being around someone can make them feel better.
  • Be available. If they need to talk, be there.
  • Use the pet’s name. This can help them feel closer to their pet and help keep their memory strong.


  • Tell them to move on or get over it. Grief takes time. They will move on in their own time and in their own way.
  • Encourage them to get a new pet. This is a deeply personal decision. They may not be ready, and suggesting it could do more harm than good.
  • Compare their experience to yourself. Everyone grieves differently, and what worked for you may not work for them.
  • Ignore their grief or act like it isn’t happening. This will only make them feel worse. 
  • Tell them it is “only a pet”. Per the Companion Animals in New Zealand 2020 Report compiled by Companion Animals NZ, New Zealanders overwhelmingly consider their pets part of their family and their passing can be as impactful as the loss of a human family member or close friend.

An SPCA Pet Insurance policy is a great way to provide peace of mind and help to pay for eligible vet bills when your cat or dog is unwell.