How to Ask for Pet Bereavement Leave

Losing a pet can be devastating. Here I break down pet bereavement leave and why it is especially important for pet owners to advocate for this benefit at work.

Katie Abendroth

3/1/20243 min read

white notebook on white textile
white notebook on white textile

What is Pet Bereavement Leave?

Losing a pet can be devastating; it is truly losing a family member. So why is pet bereavement leave not common practice in the workplace? ?

In the U.S., employers are not legally required to provide pet bereavement leave from work as you grieve, but there has been a growing movement for pet bereavement leave to support employees during their grief.

Here, we explore pet bereavement leave, advocate for its implementation in workplaces, and explore the actual grief cycle.

Why Pet Bereavement Leave Matters

Pets play an important role in our increasing isolated society. From companionship, to love, and emotional support, our pets often are by our side every day. Even travelers are increasingly taking pets with them everywhere. When your pet passes away, the emotional grief is akin to losing a close friend or family member.

Yet many employers fail to recognize the significance of pet loss and its impact on employee well-being.

Pet bereavement leave represents a growing trend and a compassionate leadership approach to supporting employees’ mental health. It acknowledges how deeply connected we are to our pets.

Advocating for Pet Bereavement Leave in the Workplace

Employers who offer pet bereavement leave not only demonstrate empathy towards their employees but also foster a positive work culture.

By acknowledging the importance of pets in their employees’ lives, companies can strengthen employee loyalty, morale, and productivity.

To ask for pet bereavement leave requires a culture shift that aligns with prioritizing mental health and well-being in the workplace. If you are employed, approach your company with this idea at the time of hiring and consider having employees sign a petition.

Although most employers don't offer pet bereavement leave, social media has amplified the call for it. when a Starbucks employee was asked to change the day of her dog’s euthanasia so she could work, the tone deaf incident went viral. As employers struggle to retain staff, this a benefit that many workers find appealing.

You also may want to contact your union representatives if your job is part of a union. By using collective bargaining, this employee benefit can gain momentum.

What pet bereavement leave include? It can mean paid time off to grieve, like losing an immediate family member. Or, personal time off before a pet passes if they have chronic health issues. It can also include unpaid time, but job security in the immediate aftermath of your loss.

Depending on your job, employers can authorize flexible, or hybrid, scheduling while you are grieving. Finally, counseling services and grief support should be provided by your employer to hep cope with this type of loss.

Navigating Grief: Tips for Coping with Pet Loss

Losing a pet can trigger a cascade of emotions, including shock, denial, sadness, guilt, and loneliness.

It’s essential that you allow yourself to grieve and seek support from friends, online communities, or counselors. Here are more tips for coping with pet loss:

Feel Your Feelings

Allow yourself to feel and express your emotions. It’s normal to experience a rollercoaster of emotions after losing a pet. This is why grief is called a cycle and not a straight line.

Recognize that your feelings may be different from your partner, or kids. Give everyone in the household grace to process their feelings differently, because everyone had a unique relationship with your pet.

Create a Memorial

Consider creating a memorial or tribute to honor your pet’s memory. This could involve planting a tree, creating a photo album, or writing a letter expressing your feelings.

You can also light a memorial candle on this website so that your pet's flame and memory are preserved.

Practice Self-Care

Remember to prioritize self-care during this difficult time. Engage in activities that bring you comfort and solace, whether it’s spending time in nature, practicing mindfulness, or indulging in a favorite hobby.

Sometimes the only way forward it through. Be gentle and kind to yourself as you would a friend.

Consider Professional Help

If you’re struggling to cope with your grief, don’t hesitate to seek professional help from a therapist or counselor who specializes in pet bereavement. Many employers do offer this support so take advantage of it.


Losing a pet is a profound and deeply personal experience that requires time, patience, and support to heal.

Employers play an important role in supporting employees through grief by offering pet bereavement leave and fostering a compassionate work environment.

Employers can help their employees navigate the difficult journey of pet loss with empathy and understanding.

Remember, you’re not alone in your grief, and it’s okay to seek support from your employer when you need it most.

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