BEAP Pain Scales for Cats and Dogs

Pain is an important part of overall quality of life, but it can be difficult to know if our pets are in pain. Animals show signs of discomfort differently than humans and they can’t tell us what they’re feeling, so it’s up to us to watch for clues and signs.

The BEAP Scale can be used to better understand and track your pet’s physical symptoms and changes, and can serve as a guide for your observation. Using the links below, you can download the checklists and complete a daily or weekly checklist. In the eight indicators of pain, check the box that best reflects your pet’s current symptoms and review the corresponding recommendations. You can reach out to our support team or schedule a quality of life consultation to discuss your options and get additional support with the decision.

BEAP Pain Scale for Dogs

BEAP Pain Scale for Cats


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Pet Loss Support Playlist

MN Pets Pet Loss Support Playlist on Spotify: Listen Here

Facing the loss of an animal family member brings a level of grief that can be difficult to put into words. Music can bring a unique kind of healing because it gives us space to reflect, sit with our feelings, and celebrate the memories we carry with us. Songs can connect us with our pets, ourselves and each other, and can hold our feelings in a way that our words often can’t.

Our team at MN Pets created this playlist to share with you in your time of grief. These are songs that have been meaningful to us as we’ve taken our journeys through love and loss, too. We welcome you to listen during quiet times with your aging pet, as you remember the pet’s you’ve said goodbye to, or even as background music for your home visit.

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Keeping Your Pet Safe After Death

It’s well known that pet loss is one of the most difficult endeavors to navigate so when our furry loved ones pass suddenly, it can leave you feeling even more panic-stricken.

The first thing we want you to know is that everything will be okay. It’s alright that you weren’t able to get your pet help right away, or that you may not have been home. Death can be a natural process – it can be sudden or drawn out and sometimes our pet doesn’t want us to know how they’re feeling which leaves us unable to plan ahead, especially if you’re hoping to coordinate cremation.

If your pet passed away at home and you’re not comfortable moving them right away, that’s okay too. Below are some helpful tips.

  • Make sure your pet is in a cool dry place away from any other animals that may disturb them.
  • If you would like to, wrap your pet or drape them in their favorite blanket or something you can keep with them for their next destination (burial, cremation, etc).
  • If your pet is small enough and you are comfortable with it, they can be placed in a cardboard box or something to contain them and keep them safe.
  • Place them in a freezer or cool storage area if it will be more than a day (and you have the means to do so).

Some families want to spend time with their pet’s body and others simply want their body removed and may not want to be a part of that. There’s no right or wrong way to feel about your pet’s death – do whatever feels right to you and your family and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Again, as long as your pet’s body is in a safe place – there’s no need to disturb them unless you’re comfortable with it. They will be safe until you can coordinate final care.

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Emergency Veterinary Clinics 

If your pet needs help after-hours, there are several emergency clinics in the Twin Cities metro area. The map below is interactive. Find the clinic closest to you and click on the paw print to view the phone number, address, and link to their website.


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Recommended Reading

Recommended Reading

There have been countless books published about the topics of pet loss and grief.  It can be difficult to sort through all the choices to find the one that best suits your needs and interests.  Here are some of our favorites.

Books for Children

The Dragonfly Door by John Adams. (Feather Rock Books, Inc. 2007)
Two insect friends, water nymphs Lea and Nym, play together in the marsh. While sleeping, Nym discovers that her friend Lea has died and gone to a new world as a dragonfly. This book is written by a local MN author.  It is a beautiful allegory for death and is very gently told. It offers an optimistic concept of where the deceased “goes” after death. The book’s website also contains detailed lesson plans for presenting to elementary age children and plans for how to do a theatrical presentation.

Sammy in the Sky by Barbara Walsh, illustrated by Jamie Wyeth (Candlewick Press, 2011)
“Sammy, the best hound dog in the whole wide world, loves his girls and she loves him”. Sammy in the Sky is a beautiful book about more than just goodbyes, but also of celebrating love and memories. The author captures the dynamic sorrows and joys of having an animal companion in a way that touches hearts of all ages.

Saying Goodbye to Your Pet: Children Can Learn to Cope with Pet Loss by Marge Eaton Heegaard (Fairview Press Minneapolis, 2001)
Simple text and blank spaces in which to add drawings, teach children how to cope with the loss of a pet, including how to express their grief. Included are parental instructions for how to use the book and an educational background about grief and loss as it relates to children.

When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death by Laurie Krasny Brown & Marc Brown (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers 1998)
This forthright book serves as a kid-friendly guide to death and dealing with the loss of a loved one. With Dinosaurs as the characters, it talks about what being alive and what dying means, along with the feelings people may experience when someone they know dies. This book may be most helpful to read before a death, but can also help answer questions kids often have, such as why we have funerals and how death is different than sleep. The book also includes a glossary with terms like autopsy, cremation and grave.

When You Have to Say Goodbye, Loving and Letting Go of Your Pet by Monica Mansfield, DVM. (Beanpole Books 2011)
This book characterizes the uniqueness of the relationship between children and pets and summarizes what happens when a pet becomes ill, including vet visits and lifespan. It talks about the choice to euthanize a pet and also talks about grieving and memorialization.  It includes why our relationships with animals are special and comprehensively addresses many significant passages such as illness, lifespan, vet visits, end-of-life-decision making, grief and memorialization.

Saying Goodbye to Lulu by Corinne Demas. (Little, Brown & Co, 2004)
When her dog Lulu dies, a girl grieves but continues with her life findings ways to honor Lulu’s memory. This is an excellent story for parents to read to their children even before a pet is elderly or gone, as it can facilitate a discussion about how pets change and age. It can also help children find ways to tell their own story and verbalize their experiences.

Stay by Katie Klise (Feiwel & Friends, 2017)
A little girl named Astrid and her aging dog, Eli, set off to complete Eli’s bucket list, including fine dining, playing at a playground and more. Eli and Astrid make beautiful memories together and Eli’s favorite part is the time he gets to spend with his best friend.

The Rough Patch by Brian Lies (Greenwillow Books, 2018)
Evan has the heartbreaking experience of losing his dog who is his very best friend. In his grief, Evan destroys the garden they had planted together and the weeds soon take over the space. However, out of the overgrown plot, a beautiful pumpkin begins to grow, and it leads Evan to push through his grief to begin a beautiful adventure.

City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems (Hyperion Books, 2010)
A city dog and country frog strike up a unique friendship and spend the summer playing together. However, as the seasons change, so does their friendship. In this book, city dog learns how to adapt to life changes and carry on his friendship with his frog friend in new ways.

Books Suitable for Teens

Deconstruction/Reconstruction: A Grief Journal for Teens created by The Dougy Center
The Dougy Center designed this journal specifically for teenagers. It guides teens through prompts and activities that help them process their loss and grief. It’s a “advice-free place where teens can draw, write, paint, and transform whatever they are thinking and feeling”.

Healing a Teen’s Grieving Heart: 100 Practical Ideas for Families, Friends and Caregivers by Dr. Alan Wolfelt. (Companion Press, 2001)
This book provides 100 practical ideas for parents or other caregivers to help teens process the death of a loved one and cope with the grief they are feeling. It focuses on the unique issues that teens face, such as talking with a teacher about missing schoolwork or maintaining relationships with other teens who haven’t experienced a loss and may not understand. Each idea provides a prompt or activity to focus on, it explains why this may be helpful for the teen, and it gives a practical “to do” for that day. This book is an excellent resource for someone who is unsure how to connect or talk with a teen to help support them through a loss.

Healing Your Grieving Heart ‘For Teens’: 100 Practical Ideas by Dr. Alan Wolfelt. (Companion Press, 2001)
This book provides 100 practical ideas for teens who are mourning a loss. The writing is directed to teens and contain relevant, useful tips on how to express oneself, how to cope with friends or at school, how to heal, and more. Each idea has a few helpful tips and then includes an “express yourself” section that provides a concrete action the teen can take to express their grief in some way. This book is for teens who have experienced a loss.

Books for Adults

Saying Goodbye to your Angel Animals: Finding Comfort After Losing Your Pet by Allen and Linda Anderson. (New World Library, 2008)
In this thoughtful book, Allen and Linda Anderson walk you through the numbing pain and dreadful sense of loss that arise when a beloved animal dies. They offer solace to help you deal with grief, remember and honor key moments in the animal’s life, find comfort through groups and with professionals, and get past the depression. They also include exercises, affirmations, and meditations to use through the various stages of grief. The Andersons’ caring, practical advice covers all aspects of pet loss.

Goodbye Friend, Healing Wisdom for Anyone Who Has Ever Lost a Pet by Gary Kowalski. (New World Library, revised 2012)
From the moment pets come into our lives, we know the day will arrive when we have to say farewell. Still, we are never emotionally prepared for the last adieu. Filled with heartwarming stories and practical guidance on such matters as taking care of yourself while mourning, creating rituals to honor your pet’s memory, and talking to children about death.

Saying Goodbye To The Pet You Love: A Complete Resource To Help You Heal by Lorri A. Greene, Ph.D. and Jacquelyn Landis. (New Harbinger Publications, 2002)
This book is a thorough resource that addresses vital themes in the grief process, providing education, self-assessment tests, and strategies for working with specific challenges that are part of grieving. The authors discuss why animals are so important to people, helping us understand the nature of our bond with animals and therefore why losing them can be especially traumatic.

To Bless the Space Between Us, A Book of Blessings by John O’Donohue. (Doubleday, 2008)
From the author of the bestselling Anam Cara comes a beautiful collection of blessings to help readers through both the everyday and the extraordinary events of their lives.This books blends poetic language and spiritual insight and offers readers comfort and encouragement on their journeys through life. O’Donohue looks at life’s thresholds and offers invaluable guidelines for making the transition from a known, familiar world into a new, unmapped territory.

Facing Farewell – Making The Decision To Euthanize Your Pet by Julie Reck, DVM. (Dogwise Publishing, 2012)
Author Julie Reck is a veterinarian who has devoted her professional career to helping owners make more informed decisions about euthanasia. In Facing Farewell, readers are provided with a complete description of the euthanasia procedure so that we know what to expect and can feel confident that we have made the right choice for both ourselves and your pet.

Books by local authors

Living with Grace: A Story of Love and Healing, Leaving Paw Prints on the Heart by Marita Rahlenbeck. (Star of Light Publications, 2019)

Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss: Personal and Professional Insights on the Animal Lover’s Unique Grieving Process by Sid Korpi. (Healy House Books, 2009)

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Pet Loss and Grief Support Resources

Pet Loss Support Groups

Animal Emergency and Referral Center of Minnesota

**Currently offering Virtual Meetings **

Pet Loss Support Group – meets the 4th Tues of every month, 7-8:30pm, free of charge.
Oakdale, MN
Call 651-501-3759, ext 3005 to register or email [email protected]

Companion Animal Love Loss and Memories

**Currently offering Virtual Meetings **

(CALLM) pet loss support group – 2nd and 4th Wed each month, 6:30-8pm, free of charge.
University of MN, Veterinary Medical Center
Call (612) 624-9372 or email [email protected] to register


Online Pet Loss Support Chat Rooms

Rainbow Bridge Pet Loss Grief Support Chat Room

Association for Pet Loss & Bereavement Chat Rooms


Pet Loss Support Hotlines

Tufts University pet loss hotline
M-F 5pm-8pm & 24-hr voicemail services
(508) 839-7966

Cornell University Pet Loss Support Hotline
M-F 5pm-8pm, Sat-Sun 11am-8pm
(607) 218-7457
The Pet Loss Support Hotline is available via Google Voice to facilitate support Wednesdays 6-8p.m. CST, Saturdays 11am-1pm CST and Sundays 6-8m CST. Google Voice will prompt you to enter your name before connecting, however, to remain anonymous you can say “anonymous” or just enter your first name.


Other Local Resources

Animal Humane Society of MN Pet Helpline
Resource for questions you may have regarding your pet’s behavior.
952-HELP-PET (952-435-7738)
M-F 9am-7pm, Sat 10am-6pm, closed Sunday

You can see a list of resources for mental health, crisis, shelter, and other needs on our Local Resources blog post.

Pet Ministry at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Apple Valley
Offers 1:1 discussion and support from ministry members
*Many local faith-based organizations offer free support for members and non-members. We encourage you to check in with your local group and find the support that matches your needs.


Counselors Specializing in Grief and Loss

FamilyMeans (formerly Center for Grief, Loss, and Transition)
The Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to offering hope and healing for people during the difficult times in their lives. or (651) 641-0177


National Resources

Argus Institute at Colorado State University Grief Resources
The Argus Institute provides free grief counseling relating to pet loss and support to those making end-of-life decisions for their pets.

Veterinary Wisdom for Pet Parents
Caring for people who care for pets.

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MN Pets Grief Support Email Series

Grief support email series

Losing a beloved companion can be the most painful thing we endure in life.  Many people report that losing a dear animal friend is more difficult that losing their human friend or family member.  It is absolutely true that losing a beloved animal is profoundly difficult, and even traumatic, and the seriousness of such a terrible loss cannot be overstated – it must be taken very seriously if we are to heal.

If you have sustained the crushing heartbreak of losing your animal friend, you know that sometimes our people just don’t get it.  If they have not experienced the closeness of such a human-animal relationship, they often cannot understand why our grief is so profound, so debilitating, and so long lasting.  This type of experience is what is referred to as Disenfranchised Grief, and grievers who have sustained such a loss often find it even more difficult to do the hard work of grieving without adequate support from their communities and loved ones.

MN Pets knows how crucial it is for you to have adequate support as you face the very difficult reality of grieving the loss of your animal loved one.  Our Grief Support Email Series consists of ten emails designed to help educate and support you during this painful time in your life.

I know it is hard to think of it this way, but what if you could begin to think of your grief as a kind of support itself?  Grief is a completely natural phenomena that is built-in to our nature to help us survive a loss that is so injurious to our being that it often does not feel survivable.  Grief is the process that makes it possible for us to go on with life when it seems like we cannot.  It is the thing that both shows us how to let go of something that cannot be regained while also helping us to discover and re-learn what life will be without that singularly loved ONE in it.  For awhile we must live between two worlds – one where we remember what life was like before and the other where we begin to envision what things will be like now.  Grief is the process by which we navigate that painful passage, the thing that allows us to inhabit both of those worlds simultaneously while we heal into a new self and a new world.

Our Grief Support Email Series was created as a means of support for you, but is not meant as a comprehensive care plan.  You may also benefit from considering other forms of support that may include professional one-on-one counseling or attending a pet loss support group.  We also have specially trained support staff available 7 days/week.  There are several 24-hour pet loss hotlines that are available.  You can find more information about all of these support options at  If at any time you feel that your situation is urgent, you can speak with someone at the Crisis Connection 24 hours/7 days a week at (612) 379-6363.

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MN Pets Quality of Life Scale

The team at MN Pets has worked together to compile the most important aspects to consider when thinking about your pet’s end of life decision.

Download the MN Pets Quality of Life Assessment:
MN Pets Quality of Life Assessment Tool

Interactive version of the MN Pets Quality of Life Assessment:
Interactive Quality of Life Assessment Tool

We know every pet is unique. Please don’t hesitate to touch base with us to discuss results or anything else you may be seeing.


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Considering Burial

Along with the grieving process, the death of a beloved pet also brings some difficult and painful decisions. For many, one of the most difficult decisions is determining body care arrangements after saying goodbye.

Your decisions should be based on how you and your family think that memory can be best honored. Members of your family may have differing views on death and how to handle body care, and it is important to acknowledge the feelings of everyone who was close to the loved one. Some people feel a strong need to have a physical place that they can visit their pet, such as a grave, while others might not feel as comfortable having a pet buried in their yard. Everyone processes death differently – and that is okay! There is no right or wrong.

This is why it is helpful to have this discussion before a pet dies, when possible. Pre-planning provides an opportunity to share ideas and feelings, weigh options, and ensure all voices are heard. It can help avoid a situation in which someone, often the person present at the time of goodbye, will have to make a rushed, emotional decision that may not be the decision the rest of the family would have chosen.

For many, burial brings the comfort of closure. Being able to see and touch a pet’s body can help process the loss and give us time to grieve. Burying your pet’s body is an intimate and personal way to treat them with the same love and care that you gave them during their life. Burial can also be helpful for the surviving pets. Even if they might not seem to be grieving, oftentimes they are experiencing the same type of grief as the rest of the family. Being able to have the body present for some time gives the surviving pets a chance to understand that their friend has left their physical body.

Many people choose to bury a pet at home as a way of keeping them close. Home burial provides the opportunity to create a permanent memorial or resting place. The pet could be buried in a favorite spot in the yard, such as a sunny spot or under a beautiful tree. To mark where your pet is buried, you could use a headstone or grave marker, a memorial statue, or even a tree or flowers planted over the pet’s grave. This makes locating and visiting the pet easy for yourself, your family, friends of your pet, and other animals in the household.

Legal Considerations
For most cities and states, it is perfectly legal to bury your pet on your property. However, there are some cities/counties that do prohibit home burials, so start by checking your local laws and statutes. Once you have verified that it is legal to bury on your property, you’ll need to locate a safe and secure area where your beloved pet can be buried safely. You will want to pick a spot that won’t be disturbed in the near future. Avoid areas in a flood plain, natural water sources, or flowerbeds that may be dug up and replanted. If you ever plan on selling your home, this must also be taken into consideration (disclosing to new owners, knowing you can’t take your pet with you, etc).

Safety Considerations
You will also need to contact your local energy/power company so they can mark your property with any buried power lines and identify any areas that would be unsafe for burial.

Medication used during the euthanasia process can remain active in soil for up to a year or more. This means that if disturbed, remains could be toxic to other animals after burial. Next, you must be sure that you can dig a deep enough grave to ensure that your pet’s remains will not be disturbed or become a health hazard to wildlife. This helps ensure that the medications in your pet’s system are not harmful to the nearby environment or to other animals. It is best to have at least 3 feet of dirt covering the top of the body. This means that for a large dog, a 5-foot-deep grave is safest.

Considering ground water and already existing landscaping is also beneficial to make sure your pet and anyone else that may come in contact with them stays safe. Burial can be a beautiful resting option for your loved one, ensuring that visitation can happen for years to come.

Casket and Containment Considerations
Your pet does not need a casket if you don’t have one, but there are many types of eco-friendly burial containers, such as an ecopod or Paw Pod, widely available on the internet. Just like when a human dies, there are many personalized options. It is okay to bury your pet without a burial container, but we recommend wrapping your pet in something biodegradable such as a soft cotton sheet or blanket. Their favorite toy, written letter, or photos are also nice items to include. Avoid using plastic as a covering or container for your pet – as it will not break down or decompose.

In conclusion, we recommend discussing aftercare wishes as a family if you’re able to before your pet’s death. Burial is an option as long as you check with your county and power company to do so safely. If burial is no longer an option due to a cold climate, cremation can be arranged safely as long as your pet has not already been buried, as it’s not safe to disturb graves after rest. If you’d prefer working directly with a pet cemetery for interment, there is currently one location in Minnesota accepting pet burials that we’re aware of. We recommend reaching out to Bennett’s Pet Haven Cemetery in Owatonna.

No matter what option your family chooses, know that every decision is personal and we will support you in honoring your pet’s memory in any way you need.

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Teens: Grief Patterns and Processing Pet Loss

Grief affects everyone differently, through both emotional turmoil and physical exhaustion, and impacts our body, heart, and soul. Whether we have grieved before or feel “prepared” for these patterns, grief can hit us like a wave of shock, disbelief, and heartache. Losing our animal friend hurts our hearts deeply. Our pets love us unconditionally, carry no judgment, and are here for us in our joyous moments and darkest nights. This is true for all ages, including for teenagers who have grown up with their pets and share a special bond.

When it comes to grief and loss, teenagers’ experiences may be unique in several ways. Teens are learning to control new emotions, experiencing physical changes, and developing socially and cognitively, while also gaining increased independence. For many, having an animal companion may open the door to new friendships, and social connections, and bring love and gratitude through a happy tail wag or kiss. Therefore, losing their animal friend can bring intense feelings of grief and pain that they may not have experienced before, along with their possible first encounter with death. While explaining death and loss should be done with specialized wording to younger children, teenagers understand loss at a more mature level and are able to have an honest conversation with adults.

One of the challenges that teens face is in balancing their internal grief response and external reaction. Teens often want to react maturely in the eyes of their friends and family, but also grieve authentically and personally. Teens frequently face expectations of remaining resilient and not displaying too much emotion during pet loss. This may be even more expected among boys. In truth, teens should always be able to grieve openly like everyone else, no matter what age or gender.

There are two common grief patterns: staggering and developmental grief. In her book. The AfterGrief, Hope Edelman describes how teens go through staggered grief patterns, which refers to the pattern of openly grieving in small amounts and then engaging in normal behavior and activities with friends and family and then back again. Because teens experience such intense emotions, they often need to “take a break” and stagger their grief process.

A second grief pattern of teens is developmental, meaning that they are still slowly learning to process grief and death as a whole, first taking in emotional and physical reactions, and then later understanding how to reflect and understand at an older age, sometimes many years later. Teens are still young in their development and typically process grief in stages and need our kindness and patience during these trying times.

If you have a teenager or know a teen currently grieving their pet, here are some ways to help create a supportive environment for them:

  • Respect their bond with their pet by validating their friendship and acknowledging the pain of their loss.
  • Help honor the pet through planning memorialization activities, such as a remembrance ceremony or personalized service
  • When possible, include teens through the euthanasia process. This can help them feel trusted and empowered to be a part of the decision.
  • Encourage teens to express their pain through words or art

Teens share a powerful bond with their animal friends and go through a deeply painful wave of loss when their pet passes away. With support, teenagers can understand that it is always okay to express their emotions through pet loss, share their hearts with others, and have everlasting gratitude for their time together.

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