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,


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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