Do Pets Go to Heaven when They Die?

Do Pets Go to Heaven when They Die?

One question that Christians have often asked over the years is whether or not there will be animals in heaven. Do pets or any animals go to heaven when they die? And if you have researched this topic, I’m sure you have seen and heard many different answers and opinions.

Most people have pets and they love them dearly like family. Couples who are childless even consider their pets as their own children. Our family has pets, cats and dogs, and we love them like family. Unfortunately, we have lost quite a number already. And I am left wondering if I will ever see my dearly departed pets again.

We know from the Bible that there are only two destinations for man when he dies, heaven or hell. Hebrews 9:27 says, And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” Clearly, man faces judgment immediately upon death. In other words, we will know right away where exactly we are headed the moment our physical life on earth ends.

A very sad day

The day that I had to fly back to the Middle East where I am currently based, our one-month old puppy Darna succumbed to her death due to dysentery. It was already too late when we realized what was going on with her. Had we known earlier that she was terribly ill; we would have done something to save her.

Everybody was sad, especially my mom, because she was the one who adopted Darna. Our neighbor’s dog gave birth to four lovely puppies and decided to give one to us. Mom named her Darna and we all thought it was perfect for her. We all loved and adored her even though she was a bit stubborn at times.

But after just a month or so, we had to say goodbye to her. It was a very sad day indeed, because not only did we lose the newest member of the family, but it was also the day that I had to go away again because my vacation days are over.

Maybe some of you are thinking, “C’mon, it’s just a dog.” You know what; the pain of losing anyone of our pets is real. If you are a pet-owner, I’m sure you can totally relate. We are deeply affected by the loss of our pets because we love and treat them as family, especially when they have been with us for years.

Dealing with the loss of a pet

What does the Bible say?

While many Christians believe that God will allow our pets to cross over in heaven after they die, there are also a significant number of Christians who believe otherwise. But what does the Bible say?

It is very difficult to give a precise answer to this question because Scriptures do not conclusively tell us whether our pets will make it to heaven. God does not specifically say one way or the other whether or not any of our personal pets, or any animal for that matter, will be crossing over to be with us in heaven.

Many of the noted Bible scholars and theologians also agree with this opinion as they could not find any passages or verses in the Bible that gives us a definitive answer to this question. Nevertheless, I believe that the Bible does provide us with some significant clues on the subject matter.

But before going any further, it is very important to state that if pets do go to heaven, their owners will also have to go to heaven to see them and be with them. The Bible makes it pretty clear that the vast majority of people won’t make it to heaven (See Matthew 7:13-14 and Luke 13:23-25).

The narrow gate

The road to heaven is extremely small and most people, even those who call themselves Christians, will not find it. In fact, even people who think they will go to heaven just because they call Jesus “Lord,” and have done many wonders in the name of Jesus may not make it (Matthew 7:21). That’s why it is critical that we get right with God, otherwise, our chances of seeing our dearly departed pets are zero.

What does the Bible say about animals?

First of all, the Bible does not explicitly say that animals have souls. However, it states that both man and animals have the “breath of life;” (Genesis 2:7; Genesis 1:30; Genesis 7:15, 22) that is, both man and animals are living beings. While I agree that animals are not saved, applying general biblical principles, I believe we can conclude that animals do have souls. They have the capacity to think and feel.

The primary difference is that man is made in the image and likeness of God, while animals are not. And being made in the image and likeness of God, man, like God, is capable of spirituality, with mind, emotion and will and they have a part of their being that continues after death. Man has the capacity to choose or reject God’s gift of salvation while animals do not.

A. In the Garden of Eden

Before God even created man, there were already animals and various types of living creatures in the Garden of Eden. God had literally created the animals before creating Adam. Perhaps God did this so Adam would have everything he would need to be happy and fulfilled.

Although God saw that Adam needed a helper comparable to him (Genesis 2: 18) besides the animals, the fact that God had created animals and these living creatures in the first environment He had set up for us speaks volume of their importance in living with us on this earth. If God did not think animals were important in the big picture, He would have never created them in the first place.

Adam and the animals in the Garden of Eden
Photo Credits: The Atlantic

B. In heaven

God did not only put all these animals on earth but there may also be animals living up in heaven right now.

Revelation 19:11-14 describes Jesus Christ riding on a white horse as He comes back to earth in His Second Coming. And not only He will be riding on a white horse, but so will all of His saints who will be coming back down with Him.

If Jesus and all of His saints are going to be coming down from heaven on these white horses, then there literally has to be white horses up in heaven right now. And there could easily be other types of animals and creatures living up there as well.

C. In the coming millennium

Scripture tells us that not only has God put animals upon this earth when He created it and has kept them here after Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, He will still allow animals to exist in the coming millennium kingdom where the King, our Lord Jesus will be ruling the entire earth from the city of Jerusalem.

Isaiah 11:6-9 says that there are going to be wolves, lambs, leopards, goats, calves, lions, cows, bears and cobra snakes in the coming millennium kingdom. And there are probably going to be a lot of the animals that God has created in the past as well.

And take note that these wild animals that exist during the millennium will not be wild and won’t be attacking anyone like many of them do today.

Will there be animals in the new heaven and the new earth? Will our pets be with us?

Revelation 21:1-2 describes a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and earth had passed away. God will also be bringing with Him the holy city of the New Jerusalem where both He and Jesus will rule forever and ever.

But is God still going to have animals, like our pets, existing and living among us in this New Heaven and New Earth?

The Bible does not give us a clear and definite answer to this question and tradition has often leaned more towards a “No.” However, I do think there are good grounds to hope that God will raise our deceased friends.

The Bible says we only “know in part” (1 Corinthians 13:9-10) while we are living down here on this earth. So yeah, the question on whether pets go to heaven is probably one that we will have to wait until we get to heaven in order to see who have guessed it right.

In Romans 5:5, the apostle Paul says, “Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” I believe we can rest on the certain truths that whatever heaven is like and whatever God has decided on this or any issue for that matter, it will be good, perfect and without error.

Three reasons to hope that we will see our beloved pets in heaven:

1. God loves animals too and has ensured their survival.

Going back to the creation narrative in Genesis, God releases His blessings for the first time to the animals He created (Genesis 1:21-22). God not only saw His work as “good,” but He blessed the creatures He has made.

Did you know that this the first time the word “bless” is used in the Bible? God’s blessings enabled the animals and other creatures to reproduce abundantly and to enjoy all that He had made for them.

God’s blessing of progeny is later given to man in Genesis 1:28 with the added gift of “dominion” over all creation.

Later in Genesis 6:18-19 when God decides to destroy the earth with a flood because of its increasing wickedness, God makes a covenant with Noah reaffirming the blessing to be “fruitful and multiply,” at the same time ensuring the survival of every kind of animal.

Animals in Noah's Ark
Photo Credits: ArchitectureIMG.com

2. Animals are an integral part of the Bible’s story.

Can you honestly tell the story of the Bible or story of the cross without animals? Animals are interwoven into Scripture narratives either as actual actors or important metaphors.

Here’s to name just a few:

a) Many of the plagues of Egypt include animals as servants of God’s will (frogs, lice or gnats, flies, livestock, locusts).

b) Jonah is swallowed up by a large sea creature (Jonah 1:17).

c) Balaam’s donkey displays the power of God by speaking (Numbers 22:27-30).

d) Jesus rides as King on a donkey in Jerusalem (Matthew 21:4-7).

e) The Devil takes the form of a serpent (an animal) in order to deceive Adam and Eve.

f) Jesus is described by John as the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29) and the Lion of Judah (Revelation 5:5).

With all these references to animals, many of which are integral to the story of Scriptures, it seems strange for God not to make a way for them to be with us in the afterlife. God obviously loves animals and He knows that we do too.

3. God is good and He loves us.

God loves us and He wants us to be happy. God demonstrated His love for us while we were yet sinners, by giving His only begotten Son to die on the cross to pay for the penalty of our sins, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but will have everlasting life (Romans 5:8; John 3:16).

To want to see our dearly departed pets and ask that they’ll be with us in the future is not to say that God is not enough to make us happy and content. Of course, in the presence of God there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:110) but God also promised that He will make everything new.

Will our pets be present in God’s new kingdom? We do not know for sure. But if animals populated the Garden of Eden, there is a precedent for believing that they will populate “restored” Eden as well.

Conclusion

In closing, I would just like to say that while we cannot say for certain if the pets we enjoy today and those we have lost will make it to heaven, some of the keenest thinkers like C.S. Lewis and Peter Kreeft are convinced that not only animals in general, but pets in particular, will be restored in the resurrection.

Listen to what Dr. Michael Brown, a Jew who believes in Yeshua as the Messiah, has to say as regards to the question of pets going to heaven.

If God will be giving us all a glorified body at the resurrection, who is to say that God cannot resurrect our pets so they will be able to live with us in heaven and then eventually in the New Heaven and New Earth for all eternity?

God resurrecting our pets would be in total keeping with His overwhelming grace, love and goodness. Do I hope to see my pets in heaven? Absolutely! I could be wrong, but I personally trust God that at the end of the day, He knows what makes me happy and always has my best interest at heart. So no matter what, I know it will be what’s best.

Do you also hope to see your pets in heaven? Please do share with me your thoughts by leaving your comments below.

 

 

6 Replies to “Do Pets Go to Heaven when They Die?”

  1. First off I want to say I am so sorry you lost your dog Darna. I have had many pets in my life and losing them is very painful. I love your choice of scripture to this answer and I agree that most important is whether we are even in heaven to be reunited with our pets. I think we have to make sure we are focused on the right things because as the scripture says broad is the way that leads to destruction.

    God Bless you and may the Lord increase our understanding.

    1. Hello Melissa,

      Thanks for stopping by. We really do get attached to our pets that’s why it’s rather hard losing any of them. We grieve when we lose a loved one and we also grieve when we lose a pet. However, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 says we should not sorrow as other who have no hope because we will be reunited with out departed loved ones. It’s just my hope that we will also be reunited with our departed pets. God loves animals too so I don’t see any reason why He won’t let them into heaven.

      You are absolutely right in saying that focusing on the right things, that is, godly things is very important if we want to find the narrow gate that leads to heaven. Although we are saved by grace alone and not our good works (Ephesians 2:8-9), our faith is proved genuine by the fruit of the Holy Spirit manifested in our lives.

      May God bless you more!

  2. It’s so sad to hear the passing of Darna.

    I’ve had pets that passed when I wasn’t aware, and I’ve also had pets that waited until I was present and literally passed in my hands. It’s equally heartbreaking in both cases, and I hope you will be able to recover from this loss soon.

    Despite not being a Christian, I do believe in the afterlife and I wish dearly for my pets to be reunited with me in the afterlife. We can perhaps reincarnate together, or I’ll stay a while longer, seeing them off to reincarnation while waiting for those who have yet to pass. Either way, I refuse to accept the fact that our pets will disappear just like that.

    1. Dear Rachel,

      It’s been almost 2 months since our dear Darna passed away. And although her life was cut short too soon and we didn’t get to see her grow up, I am hopeful that we will see her again, along with our pets who have also gone ahead.

      I think most people even if they do not share the same worldview, believe in the afterlife. We believe that after our physical life here on earth awaits another one that is much better. But what about our pets? We cannot say for certain what becomes of them and if we will still see them. But like I said in my article, God knows what’s best for me.

      I may not share your belief in reincarnation but I do respect that. I just hope you will consider looking into the strong evidence for Christianity and you will also come to believe in the saving grace of our Lord Jesus who took upon Himself the sins of the “world” just so we will not be eternally condemned in hell; but that will be in heaven in the presence of God, and maybe, just maybe, we will be reunited with our pets.

      Thanks Rachel you for visiting.

  3. We have two dogs that we love, will they go to heaven when they die is a good question, a better question is will me and my wife go to heaven?

    As you pointed out, both parents and dogs have to be in the same place in order for any interaction to take place.

    Sorry for the lost of your dog Darna.

    I believe that dogs and other animals have souls, and that the spirit of the Lord is with us all. It is odd that there is no direct mention of whether or not dogs go to heaven in the scriptures.

    Several points that you made like, Jesus riding on a white horse in the second coming, the flood, and the saving of all those animals, and the fact that animals where present before man, these to me help to indicate that dogs do go to heaven.

    1. Hello Harold,

      Wow, you have two dogs too, that’s wonderful! I wonder if you also like cats. It’s common knowledge that dogs and cats don’t get along well but I’m here to say that they can actually be the best of friends. 

      You’re right, the most important question here before we even think if our pets are going to heaven is: will we go to heaven when we die? The Bible is very clear, Jesus has already purchased our “ticket” to heaven, all we have to do is receive it by faith. 

      It really hurts whenever we lose a pet because to us they’re not just animals, they’re family and we love them dearly. And although we cannot be completely confident that we’re going to see our beloved pets again, we can always rest in the promise of God’s love and grace that He wants us to be perfectly happy. 

      Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment, may the Lord richly bless you and your family. Shalom!

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