Pet Loss

Dear Friend,

If you are visiting this webpage chances are you or someone you care about has either lost or is preparing to lose a very dear and special companion. Animal companions are true gifts to those who welcome them in and open their hearts to the companionship they offer. All of us at Hilton Animal Hospital recognize, respect, and support the human-animal bond. We all own and have-owned pets; and we know how hard it is to lose your beloved friend.

This web page contains various resources related to the loss of a pet. If there is anything that we can do to help, please give us a call or send us an email.

At Hilton Animal Hospital, we are here to support you through all the stages of your animal’s life, even the tough ones. End of life care for your pet brings about both difficult and emotional decisions. We will talk with you about the euthanasia process so you are prepared before the actual procedure. All our euthanasia procedures are performed in our hospital. Owners may stay with their pet through the entire process, while others may elect not to be present. In cases where the owner is not present, our compassionate staff will hold and comfort their pet, and ensure that their pet died peacefully and with dignity.

For clients that would like to have their pet euthanized at home please see the section on "In Home Euthanasia" below.

We offer private cremation or communal cremation through Nansemond Pet Cremation Services. Our staff will handle all the arrangements for you and notify you once ashes have been returned. 

For more information please read: Coping With The Death Of Your Pet [PDF]

How to Know When it's Time? 

Deciding to euthanize your dog or cat can be one of the most difficult decisions you may ever make. As pet owners/parents, our strongest desire is to shield our faithful friends from unnecessary pain and suffering, but because our pet companions respond to pain and suffering differently than we humans do, it can be very distressing knowing when its time. No one wants to say our goodbyes too soon or too late.

In attempts to help assist you with this incredibly difficult decision, below are some resources designed to help guide you towards an informed discussion with your family and your veterinarian.

Lap of Love Quality of Life Scale [PDF]

Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center Quality of Life Assessment [PDF]

In-Home Euthanasia & Cremation

  • 757-474-5968

    In-Home Euthanasia and Hospice Care

  • 757-774-7040

    In-Home Euthanasia and Hospice Care

  • 757-401-6195

    In-Home Euthanasia and Hospice Care

  • 757-483-2273

    The Respectful and Caring Choice

    As pet owners, the staff at Nansemond Pet Cremation Services knows first-hand the special relationship between pets and their human parents. We understand how difficult it is to lose this special friendship. We offer cremation services and memorial urns to help keep your beloved pet's memory alive.


Our capacity as human beings to love correlates to our capacity to grieve. Because of how we come to love our pets, we experience profound loss when one of them becomes ill or dies. Everyone mourns in their own way, and there is no timeline or formula for processing loss. However, there are some tools we can use to help ourselves, and those we care for, during the grieving process:

  • Time: No one grieves on a prescribed timeline. Everyone is different and some losses take longer than others to move through. Be gentle with yourself and honor the time it takes to heal.
  • Story: Share the story of your loss with those you care about and who care about you, but also share your joyful memories.
  • Connect: Find and make use of your support system. Understand that not everyone knows how to support someone in grief.
  • Retreat: While connections are helpful, also recognize there will be times you need to retreat and recharge. Grieving drains your energy and you may need more quiet time to recharge than you normally take.
  • Listen: Pay attention to your self-talk. If your emotions are spiraling out of control, you may need additional support.
  • Support: If you know someone who is grieving the loss of a pet, the best thing you can do is be a good companion. You can’t fix it for them, but you can help them heal by being there for them. Let them know you are thinking about them.
  • Memorials: Memorials are a beautiful way to honor the memory of a beloved pet.

Grief Support

Pets are cherished members of the family. Unfortunately, one of the inevitable parts of having a beloved pet is saying goodbye. Friends and family can comfort you in this time of need, but they may not understand the depths of your loss. These websites and hotlines offer resources on dealing with the grief of losing a beloved pet.

ASPCA Pet Loss Web Page roundedrightarrow

The web page discusses many aspects of end of life care.  

ASPCA National Pet Loss Hotline:  


 Cornell University, College of Veterinary Medicine  roundedrightarrow  

Pet Loss Support Website / Hotline

Pet Loss Support Hotline:


Tufts University roundedrightarrow

Pet Loss Support Website / Hotline

Pet Loss Support Hotline: 


Tufts Pet Loss Support Document [PDF]


Coping With Pet Loss Fact Sheet [PDF]

Coping with the Loss of a Companion Animal. This brochure is adapted from the original

work of Jennifer Brandt, MSW, LISW, PhD

Healing From Pet Loss [PDF]

Tips, Stories and Exercises to guide you thru the Grieving Process

Losing A Best Friend [PDF]

A collection of articles for the bereaved pet owner

who is anticipating or is coping with the death of a pet

Helping Children Deal With Pet Loss [PDF]

The death of a family pet is often a child’s first experience with loss.  They express grief differently than adults due to shortened attention spans and varying intellectual levels of understanding death and loss. Each child is unique and overlap occurs across levels of development. The document provides a overview of how different age groups deal with death and grieving. 

Helping Children Cope - FactSheet [PDF]

Helping Children Cope with the Serious Illness or Death of a Companion Animal. This brochure is adapted from the original

work of Jennifer Brandt, MSW, LISW, PhD

Pet Loss Kids Activity Book [PDF]

I Miss My Pet:

A workbook for children about pet loss

Pet Loss Journal for Kids [PDF]

"Pushing the Clouds Away" a  Pet Loss Healing Guide and Work Book for Kids

Ten Ways to Help Children with Pet Loss [PDF]

The death of your family pet may also be your children’s first experience with loss and grief. It’s an important time for  you to teach your children how to express their grief in ways that are emotionally healthy and free of shame or  embarrassment. The document may help you provide support for your children when your family pet dies or  when you know the death is coming soon.