Your pets are important members of your family, and you love them very much. A dog, cat, hamster, or bird could be one of your best friends, and you have probably spent a lot of time with this animal. Your pet dog has probably been right by your side when you play outdoors in the yard. A cat might sleep with you every night in your bed. Even a hamster or a bird can make a good friend for a kid. But at some point, having a pet can become a sad thing. A pet might get sick or get old, which can lead to death. Some pets even get hurt in accidents. When a pet dies, the people left behind usually feel very sad. Your family can help you with these sad feelings to help you understand them. Although death is a natural part of life, you can work through the sadness and come to the point where you think about your pet and remember happy times.
Understanding the Death of a Pet
Pets reach old age faster than people do. This means that a dog that you got as a puppy could become old before you grow up. Pets can also get sick with serious diseases, much like people sometimes do. When a pet dies, most people feel sad because they know they will miss the pet. A pet who was old or sick might have been in pain. After death, the pet won't feel this pain anymore. This can be a comforting thought for some people. It might help to remember happy days with a pet after it dies. Some families like to talk about their memories of special times with a pet.
- Age-Based Coping Tips
- When a Pet Dies
- Younger Children and Grief
- Dealing With Death
- Helping Your Child With Pet Loss
- Children and Pet Loss
- Helping Children Through Pet Illness and Death
- Talking With Children About the Death of Pets
Preparing for a Loss
When a pet gets old or sick, your family might begin expecting that the dog or cat will die soon. Taking a pet to a veterinarian might help, but sometimes the veterinarian won't be able to make a pet better. It might help to know that you and the veterinarian have done everything possible to help a pet. Sometimes a pet will be in so much pain that the veterinarian needs to help the pet to end their suffering. When this happens, the veterinarian gives the pet a special shot that makes the pet's heart stop beating. Families decide to do this sometimes to end a pet's pain. Although this is a very hard thing to do, you can know that you helped your dog or cat in an important way to end its pain. Your family and the veterinarian will help you by explaining this process and answering any questions you might have.
- When a Pet Dies
- Explaining Pet Loss to a Child (PDF)
- Talking to Children About Pet Death
- Children and Euthanasia
- Helping Children Cope With a Pet's Euthanasia (PDF)
- Pet Euthanasia (PDF)
- Kids and Pets: Bringing Your Child to the Veterinarian
What to Do After a Pet Dies
After your pet dies, you might feel so sad that you just want to cry. Some people even feel angry after they lose a pet. These are very natural responses to losing a pet that you loved. It's also normal to think about your pet a lot after losing it. You might have a lot of questions about what happens to your pet after death. Your parents or other important adults can answer these questions to help you understand. It's very common to want to talk about your pet after it dies. You might want to tell stories about your favorite times. You might also want to look through photos to remember things. Some kids like to draw pictures of their pets to help remember them. A family might plan a funeral to say goodbye to a pet. Planning a funeral can be an important way to grieve and work through your sadness. Slowly, as the days go by after losing a pet, you will probably notice that you can think about your pet without as much sadness. You will still probably miss your pet, but the sadness isn't as overwhelming as it was at first. Many families decide that they want to get another pet after losing one. While a new pet won't replace the one you lost, you can enjoy getting to know another dog or cat and growing to love it.