Children & Pet Loss
Clear Is Kind. Unclear Is Unkind.
The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center has an AMAZING 6-page handout to help parents and guardians navigate this difficult process:
Helping Children Cope with the Serious Illness or Death of a Companion Animal.
The Parmenter Foundation is an organization located in Eastern MA with many resources on pet loss. This short video "Talking to Children About Pet Loss" provides a good introduction on how to talk with your kids.
It is best to be as direct as possible with kids.
We usually try to use clear, accurate and concrete words (such as dead and dying).
Examples on how to explain euthanasia:
"Tiger is dying, we are going to give him a special kind of medication that helps his body stop."
"When an animal is hurting, we can choose to help them die"
Examples of how to explain cremation:
"His body will be taken to a room that gets very, very hot and will turn his body into ashes that sort of look like sand."
Avoid euphemisms, they can be very confusing
Try avoid sayings such as: "going to sleep" or "going to a better place".
Books & Activities
We have a suggested book list for children
If possible - we recommend ordering the book My Forever Friend as early as possible in the process
There is a dog and cat version of this book and it has great activities to help celebrate your beloved pet before they pass and to assist with the grieving process. You can get this book on Amazon.
My Forever Friend: A children's guide and activity book for saying goodbye to a special dog
My Forever Friend: A children's guide and activity book for saying goodbye to a special cat
By Dr. Mary Gardner & Coleen Ellis
A transitional item (tangible)
Consider getting a transitional item such as a stuffed animal or pillow with your pet's picture on it. This can be a snuggled item that they can hug and love once your pet has passed. Dr. Atkins usually has organza bags with her and can provide a locket of fur for each family member. In our experience, kids almost always opt to keep a locket of fur.
TV Episodes addressing Loss: For Kids
Podcasts for Parents/Guardians
We welcome feedback regarding this resource page. Please let us know if there is anything you think we should add or edit. Our goal is to help support pet families through this difficult process.