For most people, furry friends are part of the family. So when we lose them, it can be just like any other type of grief.

“My rabbit Zelda, who I've had for three years, died on March 3, and it was super traumatic," says Danielle Starke with Mohawk Hudson Humane Society.

Starke didnt know what to do or who to talk to, but she eventually sought out pet bereavement therapy through her job at the animal shelter.

What You Need To Know

  •  Pet bereavement therapy can be a helpful tool when it comes to pet loss

  •  Find ways to memorialize your pet, like planting a tree or making jewelry out of their ashes

  • Reach out to support groups on social media

“Everyone said their condolences, but I felt like this different magnitude of grief because I was her caretaker," Starke said.

Kelly Daugherty works in grief counseling and offers a pet grief group, like the one Starke went to.

“So it's important to be able to talk about grief, because pet loss is a type of disenfranchized grief, which means it's not always accepted by society. It's tends to be minimized. People [are] like, 'it's just a dog' or 'it's just a cat, you can get another one.' But when we have these pets for 15 years, they become part of our family and it becomes really difficult and can cause significant grief symptoms," says Kelly Daugherty, a clinical social worker.

If you feel stuck in the cycle of grief, she says reach out to things like social media groups for pet loss or look into other support groups.

“But I also think it's finding ways to be able to commemorate them. What does that look like for me? I made a scrapbook of my pups. Out here in our office, we have a little memorial table of all of our loved ones that have died, including our pets. Other people like to plant a tree maybe near where they were buried or they've made jewelry out of their pet's ashes," Daugherty said.

No matter how hard it is to lose a four-legged friend, Starke says all feelings are valid.

“It's going to hurt. You're going to cry. You're not going to want to get out of bed. You’re going to go through all stages of grief. But it is OK. It's OK to seek out help," Starke said.