What to do When Your Pet Dies Unexpectedly

A good friend is hard to find, but each animal finds a special place in our heart. While the beginning chapters of Lady’s remain a mystery, we wanted to give her a well-deserved rest in peace. Lady wandered the streets until strangers picked her up as a stray and brought her to the local shelter where she lived long-term until my family adopted her in the Spring of 2017. That is where the final chapter of her tale begins…

what to do when your pet dies unexpectedly

Lady: The Final Chapter

We weren’t in a rush to bring another creature into our pack, but on Mother’s Day, Charlotte (my six-year-old daughter) and I took a trip to the local animal shelter. We previously discussed the possibility of adopting another dog when the ‘right one’ came along. We’d visited local shelters like Wayside Waiffs and Prairie Paws Animal Shelter, but hadn’t found the right fit for our family- until that day.

Lady hobbled inside from a walk with a volunteer when we met her- at that moment we knew she was special. There was a sweetness about her. A kindness in her eyes that instantly drew our hearts in. We knew we may only have a couple years together due to her age, but the instant connection made our hesitation disappear. Lady deserved a loving home and we were going to give it to her. After a few more visits and a meet-and-greet with Winnie, our 11-year old dog, we welcomed Lady into our wolf pack.

what to do when your pet dies unexpectedly

Given Lady’s condition (she had trouble walking & bad arthritis), we knew the transition into a new household would take time. But hope is a seemingly magical thing which made Lady’s transition much smoother than we anticipated.

What to do when your pet dies unexpectedly

The day we adopted Lady, she had limited movement. Even navigating stairs seemed like an impossible task. Each day I carried her up and down our stairs so she could relieve herself and enjoy time in our backyard with Winnie. I came to terms with the fact that Lady was going to need extra care– but she surprised me.

Within a couple of weeks, the dog that could barely walk was running (literally running) around the backyard and climbing the stairs on her own. I truly believe that Lady needed the hope, love, and encouragement that only a loving family can bring. Lady found her forever home and we found a piece of our hearts that we didn’t know was missing – and summertime was wonderful.

what to do when your pet dies unexpectedly

Summertime brought freedom for our dogs to explore outdoors and relax on the lawn. Together, they spent a few hours a day taking in the fresh air. When I opened the door to call them in, both would come running as fast as they could to greet us. Lady wasn’t just a cared for member of our pack, she became my friend.

I found myself looking forward to my favorite parts of the day, when Winnie and Lady would run towards the house. I never envisioned the possibility of Lady being active when we’d first met, but little did the dogs know that I cherished those joyful moments just as much as they did.

what to do when your pet dies unexpectedly

Over the span of a few months, Lady became an important part of our pack- part of our family. Fast forward to the night of October 21st, 2017.

As it started raining, I rushed to the backdoor to call the dogs in – expecting to see them both run in, excited to come inside. That didn’t happen. Lady got up to come towards me, but collapsed suddenly on the lawn. I ran down the yard and helped Lady get back to her feet. As we tried to get up the stairs, Lady collapsed again and that’s when it hit me – Lady was going to die.

I honestly can’t tell you how I knew, but I could sense it. I knew what to do. My job was to make sure that Lady, my friend, was comfortable and loved in her final moments. The progression happened so quickly, there wasn’t time to think much about keeping her comfortable. By the time we got inside, her back legs had stopped working all together and her body was shutting down.

I brought her inside my bedroom and we said our goodbyes. As I petted  and soothed her, Lady kept trying to inch closer to me – all she wanted was love. I finally moved her on top of me as I laid with my back on the floor. Nothing prepares you for having someone that you love die in your arms. It’s one of the most difficult things I have experienced but it was exactly as it was supposed to be.

Lady passed away in the comfort of my arms, surrounded by the love she experienced in her final months on Earth. I am grateful we were a part of her journey, no matter how difficult it was to lose her. I don’t know how her story started or what adventures her early chapters brought, but I know her final chapter was beautiful, and I’ll never forget her presence in our lives.

The aftermath of losing Lady was challenging because it’s something that I have never been through before. However, the experience is something I want to share with your family if you find yourself in a similar situation.

What to do When Your Pet Dies Unexpectedly

After Lady passed away, I knew we needed to have a plan of action in place. Given the fact that it was late at night and on a weekend, I wasn’t quite sure how to handle the situation. When your pet dies unexpectedly, like ours did, here are some helpful steps:

-Evaluate the situation. Try to feel your dog’s heartbeat asses if they have passed. CPR on animals can revive them in instances where you are unsure.

-Call for help. This is not a situation you want to handle on your own. Call a friend or family member if you are alone- we all need support.

-Be Quick. It’s not fun to think about, but Rigor Mortius sets in 10 minutes to 3 hours after death. Taking the necessary steps as soon as possible is important.

-Wrap your pet up in a blanket, towel, or some type of cloth.

-If you have plastic bags to wrap around the bottom half of your pet, do it. They will sometimes release some of their bodily fluids after passing away.

-Place your pet in a box or container to transport them.

-Know your options. We utilized Pet Cremation Services, out of Martin City, who were wonderful to work with. We called early Sunday morning and brought Lady to their facility Sunday afternoon. Pet Cremation Services reviewed several options for our family and handled our delicate situation with special care. From group cremation, where they spread the ashes in their memorial garden, to options where you can keep your pet’s ashes after their gone, Pet Cremation will help your family find the right option for you. Your family can find details online or call 816-941-2009. Pet Cremation Services handled it amazingly- so gentle and kind. I cannot begin to tell you how comforting their support was in the aftermath of Lady’s passing.

My biggest piece of advice is to understand WHAT to do if this ever happens to you. It’s hard enough losing a beloved pet unexpectedly. Knowing the next steps will make it easier for you in moment. Knowing what I know now, would I decide to welcome Lady into our family again?! Absolutely.

Lady’s presence in our lives wasn’t just a gift to her, it was a gift to our family as well. She was a gentle, sweet, and kind soul that we are lucky to have known. Not only was she our family pet, but Lady was also our friend. We miss her every day. When you have the chance to love others, both people and pets, do it. You’ll never regret spreading kindness and love.

From my family to yours,


My Experience As A KC Pet Project Volunteer

Bridgette and her family’s search for a pet of their own led them to volunteering with the KC Pet Project.  Here, Bridgette tells us all about their experience!

My KC Pet Project Experience

Over the past several months, it seems like the only thing my family talks about is puppies or getting a pet.  So, it wasn’t a shock to me when my husband agreed that we would start looking for a dog that we can welcome into our family! I knew that having a pet was sort of a rite of passage for a child so this was something that I have been preparing myself to deal with.

When we first got married, my husband and I had a young dog and a puppy, and they were amazing, but we had to give them away when we moved to a new state. But as I got older and had kids, a dog seemed to drop lower and lower on my list of wants and needs. It just didn’t seem that important anymore.

Well, last weekend, we decided to start our search for a family dog and after a lot of talking and research, we found out that my husband and I could volunteer at the pound (KCPP) and even bring our children along too. This would give us and our kids time to practice walking the dogs and really just being around them so they could start to feel at ease. But when we walked in the KC Pet Project, my whole entire outlook changed. We NEEDED a dog! Not just for my kids’ sake or my husbands, but for theirs as well.

As we walked through the aisles of a wide variety of dogs, my heart was of two minds. It started to ache because there were so many abandoned, abused and lost dogs. It also started to fill with joy when I saw how anxious they were to interact with us. I wanted to take all of them right then and there! Fighting back the tears of overwhelming emotions, I knew that this was something we had to do!

The KC Pet Project is an amazing organization. They are a no kill organization and they are paving the way in Kansas City to create a No- Kill Kansas City. They are striving to care for all healthy and treatable pets that have been abandoned, lost or abused.

Seeing all of those dogs so sad in their cages really made me think about what it would mean to adopt them. An animal is an innocent living creature and they have no control where they end up or how they get treated, so adopting one and saving its life is now one of the most important things my family could do. Showing concern, compassion and genuine love for these amazing animals is sure to have a major positive impact on all our lives!

While we continue our search for the right pet and begin to make room, we will proudly be volunteering to help make these animals feel the love and comfort they need and deserve.

If you are looking for a pet, I strongly urge you to check out https://kcpetproject.org/ for more information as well as www.KCPets.com for resources on adoption and other valuable information.

What to Do When the Puppy Comes Home

The best way to prepare for the unknown is to get advice from those who have braved through the experience. Sarah will share tidbits of her family’s experience bringing home a puppy, hopefully her tips & tricks help you!

What to Do When: You Bring Your Puppy Home (And After..)

pet adoption

Learn from Our Family’s Experience!

Ammo, our silver lab, is now 6 months old. Getting to this point was a journey. When we brought our puppy home, my girls instantly fell in love. The girls wanted a puppy for years and finally, my husband and I decided pet adoption fit our family. We thought we were prepped and ready to go- but the process moved quicker than we anticipated.

I did preparation around the house, but I couldn’t do many important preparation steps because we kept the puppy adoption a secret from the girls. My normal introduction plan- talking to my girls about pet responsibility and how we will treat our new pet- happened after the euphoria of bringing him home. First thing my kids want to do is hold Ammo and love on him; first thing Ammo wanted to do was run away!

As they cornered the puppy in the kitchen, I heard the familiar, painful scream from my youngest. Yep! Those puppy teeth chomped a little too hard- and both parties were confused. Our little girl didn’t understand why the puppy she loved bit her, and Ammo didn’t understand what he did. It’s hard for kids to understand this little puppy is fragile. The girls are familiar with their grandparents’ dog—a big Labrador that lets them run, play, and lay on him. So, what did I do as the concerned I-am-going-to-use-this-as-a-teaching-moment Mom? I sat her down and explained that the puppy is just playing, and he only knows how to play with other puppies. I thought we were prepared—then came the Tinkerbelle Incident.

I was cooking dinner when I heard a scream. My oldest came running up the stairs with tears in her eyes and her Tinkerbell doll—correction, I think it was her Tinkerbell doll, in hand. You see, Tink was now an armless, one leg, one-wing shell of herself. We had a nice memorial service for her and then buried her in the only fitting place—the garage trashcan—so the carnage wouldn’t be a constant reminder. I sat my daughter down and I tried another teaching moment. All I heard was, “I want to get another dog that wouldn’t chew up my toys.”

You know what I learned—you can’t teach anything about puppy basics to a 2 year-old! It was in this moment I knew my “Hallmark” moment of everything going perfect with our new puppy was falling apart. Here are the pet tips and tricks our family learned along the journey, hopefully they help your pet family avoid a few of the puppy accidents we encountered.

  • DO YOUR RESEARCH. Pick a dog breed that matches your personality, needs, and daily life style. Talk to staff at local shelters like Prairie Paws Animal Shelter or Wayside Waifs. Their staff are a great resource to determine what dog breeds fit you! Do you have an open yard? Some dog breeds require more space & exercise. Do you work 8-5? Some breeds require greater attention.


  • Hold a family meeting- or at least run the idea by your husband or wife.


  • Buy your pet accessories before you pick up your puppy. Make sure you have a collar, leash, water & food bowls, FOOD, chew toys, and a crate/kennel so you aren’t running around last minute. A reliable pet stain & odor cleaner (like Bionihilator) is also a must. You don’t want your home smelling!


  • Create a gated-off area for your puppy’s temporary home. After being adopted, it can take pets some time to get acclimated to their new surroundings. You want an area they can be messy in, with hardwood or laminate floors to make pee clean-up easier.


  • Bring a helper to get your puppy! Having a helping hand will make the entire process less stressful. Most puppies aren’t used to kennels, so holding them in your lap allows you to soothe the puppy while your helper drives. When you bring your puppy home, make sure you bring the collar, leash, and kennel (if they are used to).


  • Keep important or small items out of reach. Pick up shoes, chargers, medicine, toys, (anything you don’t want chewed on) off the ground. Puppies don’t understand they can’t play with or chew up the things on the ground.




  • Get your dog license– It’s legally required to get your dog license and will help keep your puppy safe if they ever run off. You can get your dog license at the Animal Shelter, Veterinarian’s office/Pet Shop (if authorized to process licenses), or online with Pet Data.


  • Be friendly, but relaxed when you bring your puppy home the first time. This is an exciting time for everyone, but your puppy is experiencing so many new things right now. It’s important to not overwhelm them in their new environment.


  • Train your puppy! Finding a qualified dog trainer to set you on the right path of communication and obedience is essential. KISS Dog Training offers special classes geared towards different family needs, or check out Pure Dog Listeners for an approach built on the bond between you and your puppy.


  • Set a routine for your puppy. Try to feed, let out, or walk the puppy on a routine to establish consistency and habits for your pup. Having a set routine will help your puppy become potty trained and understand the flow of the day.


  • Pro Tip: Splurge and go for the monthly pooper-scooper. I saw the poop-scooper sign for $20 a month and thought, “I don’t need that..” Wrong. Your puppy will track poop in the house ONCE before you change your mind.

Would I get the dog again? Of course! Our house feels complete and Ammo is a great protector for our family. My girls love Ammo, even with a few dismemberments of their dolls. Ammo sleeps with the girls and I find they sleep better with him (meaning I sleep better). My youngest loves to help with feeding him and my oldest is waiting when she can take him on a walk instead of the other way around. So although we hit a few snags, it was worth it to remember those smiles on their faces when we first brought him home! Hold tight to those Hallmark moments—they make the trying times so much easier!

4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Getting a Pet

We’re obvious pet lovers here at iPetsKC, but with all that love, also comes responsibility. Our friend Darcy gives us a few quick questions to ask yourself before getting your first (or even fifth!) pet. Take a look!

4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Getting a Pet

4 Questions to Ask Yourself
Before Getting a Pet


Once your family has the idea to get a pet, it can be tempting to run out and immediately adopt one. The temptation is everywhere- KC Pet Project’s instagram has me constantly falling in love. But before you commit to your first pet, or your fifth, you need to give this some serious thought. Here are some things to consider.

#1 How much of a responsibility is it?

I’m not just talking about the initial purchase price of the pet. In fact, there are many times of year you can get a dog or cat possibly for free. You may also know someone who is trying to rehome an animal. But you have to consider the food and the care. Vet appointments, groomers, flea and heartworm medication, boarding during travel… costs can add up quickly. And of course that is assuming your pet doesn’t get injured or sick. Over the years, we have had many ill pet visits and they average to about $200 per instance. And it can get much more expensive. It was over $500 to x-ray our little dog when he had kidney stones.

#2 How much time will the pet need?

Time requirements. I always think especially of families with this one. If you are always on the run with kids’ practices and functions, you may want to rethink a pet. Dogs, especially, are highly social creatures that need your attention and time. If you like to travel or spend weekends out of town, again- a dog is probably not a good choice. Cats are a bit more independent, though they still require care. Even fish can be difficult if you are gone for multiple days. Also, you need to consider length of time you will have the pet. Many dogs and cats can live to around 20 years. There are birds and reptiles that can last 50+ years. You need to consider the longevity of the pet you want to get and ask will I still be able to care for this animal in ‘x’ years. If you don’t want that long of a commitment, consider adopting an elderly pet.

#3 What is your current living situation?

Your home. Before bringing a pet home, remember that this is a family member and will be sharing your home. If you live in a rental, save yourself the heartache of getting a pet if you aren’t allowed. And if you can’t tolerate the idea of a pet in your house for allergy reasons or otherwise- again reconsider what kind of pet will work for you. Some breeds shed, some do not. Some are hypoallergenic and some have no hair. Research your options so you know what to expect and what will work for you.

#4 How will this effect other people in your home?

Your family (fur and otherwise). When we rescued our cat this summer, we thought it would make our existing cat happy to have a playmate. This was not the case. We worked for months with the cats and our vet and have finally found a happy balance. If not all members are on board for a new addition, it may not work out.

Pro Tips

If you get through this list and you still think you’re game- feel free to do a test run! Ask to watch a friend’s pet for a few days and see how things go. (They would probably love it!) You can also sign up as a foster. It is a great way to get experience with different types and breeds of animals without the pressure of commitment. You can also volunteer at a shelter. Maybe you’ll meet your canine soul mate on a stroll.

Animals are wonderful and loving additions to any family. I think there are countless reasons they are invaluable family members. They lower stress, provide companionship and teach responsibility. But it’s up to the humans to be good family members too and that begins before you ever pick your new buddy up. If you have any questions, or think of something I missed, feel free to comment. And good luck!

Is A New Dog The Right Fit? Holiday Advice From KISS Dog Training

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is already upon us here in the metro area. Along with the hustle and bustle (and hopefully lots of holiday cheer), many of you are probably still considering that perfect gift for a loved one. If you’re considering bringing a new puppy home for the holidays, this post is for you. Mike over at KISS Dog Training provides some insight to things you should consider when bringing home an animal for the holidays, and provides some helpful advice for alternatives. Take a look…
KISS Dog Training Dogs as Christmas Gifts

Bringing Pets Home For The Holidays   Insight From KISS Dog Training

#1 Puppies Need Training

Puppies do not come potty trained. During the holidays (in between family, eggnog, toy assembly and traveling “over the hills and through the woods to grandma’s house) you will have to make sure to let the dog out at least every 2 to 3 hours. You will have to watch the pup like a hawk when he/she is loose and running around with the kids. Keep in mind this does not mean the dog can be put in the crate while you are gone and left in solitary confinement.

#2 Puppies Need Socialization

Puppies have a very short and critical developmental period that lasts from about week 3 to only about week 20. During that time they need to be exposed to all the things life will throw at them for the rest of their lives, and all of these experiences must be positive and properly conditioned. This will require meeting new people while at the same time having positive associations with them.
My rule of thumb for clients is the puppy must meet and experience 50 new things a week.  Remember, if you get your pup at 12 weeks you only have 8 weeks to properly socialize the pup.
Ask yourself: Are the holidays the right time to take on this important task?

#3 Puppies Need Regular Vet Visits

Puppies need a lot of visits early on to the vet, and just as many to the pet supply store. Boosters, physical checkups, chew toys, crates; the list is in some cases is never ending. Plus, all of these medical visits and shopping trips have to be done on a pretty strict time table.
It’s important to remember that during the Holidays, many vets and pet supply stores might very well be closed several days in each week for staff and crew to spend time with their family. Ask yourself again…are the Holidays really the best time to get a new pet, especially a puppy?

#4 Puppies Are A Long Term Commitment

A new puppy is a huge responsibility and even though cute and cuddly at the moment of gifting, they can and will change the way that person will need to live their life, forever. If that person is not ready for this responsibility, this will become a pup that ends up in a shelter! Please remember, never buy someone a pet unless that person is involved in the decision making process, period.
Now giving dogs/puppies as gifts to kids is a totally different ball game. In my opinion, the age a child should get their first dog is at least 9 or 10 and no younger. Why you ask? Because with those children younger than 9 or 10, it will be you taking care of the puppy on during the Holidays as well as on a day-to-day basis going forward! This is because younger children typically can’t handle the responsibility of taking care of a puppy.

Alternative Option Pro Tip:

The Holidays are already a high stress, busy and chaotic time, and in most cases, really not conducive to introducing a new pet to the family. So please take this article for what it’s worth. From this dog trainer’s point of view a gift certificate to your special person for a puppy in February is a far better choice, not only for you and that special person but also for the dog! Happy Holidays!

You Think You Want a Cat? 5 Adoption Tips To Help You Along The Way

I’ve been a pet lover my entire life. Having grown up with two cats (Snowy, a turkish-van and Smokey, a grey tabby), I found myself missing that part of my life when I moved to Kansas City several years ago. Somewhere between the start of college and the start of my family, I’d convinced myself that I wasn’t the “cat person” (I think it was right around the time that I got my dog – more on her in a later blog post) I’d once claimed to be. Like all true animal lovers, however, I couldn’t escape the call for very long and I found myself longing for that unbreakable bond between woman and cat once more.

So I started spending time at the Great Plains SPCA near my house at first with the intention of simply getting some snuggle time in and giving the cats some love and attention and after several visits I began warming up to the idea of bringing a new pet into the fold at home. My daughter, who was three at the time, was all aboard the Bring Home a New Furry Critter To Love On express and it seemed to be moving full steam ahead. Fast forward nearly three years and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the decision we made to adopt. Bringing Catniss (I did, indeed, re-name my feline family member Catniss) home was one of the best choices we’ve made and I learned a lot throughout our experience that I want to share with you today. Take a look…

Adoption Tips For Cats

Five Adoption Tips For Finding Your Next Cat

#1 Don’t Give Yourself a Deadline


Once we made the decision to go ahead and adopt an animal, we knew we needed to take the time to find the right cat for our family. You might be tempted to give yourself a deadline for finding the right pet for your family. Whether that’s today, next Monday, or two months from now – don’t. Adopting an animal is a lifetime commitment and your job is to make sure that your decision is the right one and that it’s mutually beneficial for both the animal as well as for your family. Giving yourself the freedom of time means that you’re more likely to find an animal that’s the ideal fit for your home.

#2 Involve The Whole Family

Adopting A Pet

It took several trips to the shelter before we connected with Catniss and it was really important to us to have the entire family involved when we ultimately made the decision to adopt her. If you’re venturing out solo on your quest for a new pet pal, be sure to ask the staff at the shelter about placing a hold on an animal that you’re interested in. That will give you the time to get your entire family together to come back for a visit before you make the choice to take your new cat or dog home forever. BC (Before Catniss), I thought I’d found a cat that would be a good fit for our family but when we brought my daughter in for a visit, we discovered that they weren’t a good fit for each other (and that’s okay).

#3 Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

Adoption Tips For Cats

I am constantly amazed by the wealth of knowledge over at the SPCA. From the staff to the volunteers, they’re well trained and well equipped to answer your questions on pet care and adoption. One of the things I appreciated most was that our adoption counselor was so patient with us as we asked questions during our visit. We asked questions about her history at the shelter (where she was found, how she got along with other pets, her temperment, etc) and each question was met with a detailed answer that put us at ease as we made the decision to give Catniss a forever home.

I encourage you to do the same. Not all animals are the same and what you see on one single visit to the shelter may not necessarily be indicative that pet’s normal response. The caretakers at the shelter have, more than likely, spent time with the cat and will have a fairly good picture of what you can expect from your new pet.

#4 Go In Prepared  

iPetsKC Tips For Adoption

Once you make the decision to adopt, go ahead and prepare your house and family for the impending arrival of your new pet. Stock up on the essentials to make your new cat’s transition as smooth and streamlined as possible. The last thing you’re going to want to do is make an emergency trip to the store for supplies while your cat explores her new environment. Here’s what we had on hand for Catniss:

  • Litter box (We went ahead and set up the litter box before we ever came home so that we could immediately show Catniss her space in the house.)
  • Fresh food and water in an easily accessible place (It’s important for your new pet to associate you with comfort and safety so we made sure that we had already filled our cat’s water and food bowls before arriving home.)
  • Toys (Cats do best when they’re challenged and have the opportunity to burn off energy. Make sure you have toys on hand for your new pet’s arrival.)
  • Cat treats
  • Carrier

#5 Be Prepared For A World Of Joy

Tips For Adopting A Cat

It goes without saying that your life is going to change once you make the decision to adopt from a shelter and that was definitely true in our situation. Catniss has been an amazing addition to our family and we couldn’t be more thrilled with the decision we made to bring her into our family. Once you do the same – you’re in for a world of joy yourself and we can’t wait to hear about it.

Share your pet adoption stories with us right here on iPetsKC.com.

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