Many people are not sure how to help their children deal with the impending loss or the actual loss of a pet.  In the past, parents would often try to "shield" their child by telling the child that their pet had run away or been taken to live in the country.  I have talked to many adults who had this happen to them, and they are sad or angry about it to this day.  They never got to say goodbye to their special friend. 

     Now we know that most children are very capable of handling the idea that all life ends.  Involving children in the process of caring for and eventually saying goodbye to an aging or sick pet teaches them compassion, and gives them time to prepare for the loss of their companion.  A sudden, unexpected death handled properly can give children the tools to deal with other unexpected and difficult events later in life.  And losing a pet can help prepare children for the loss of important people in their life.  There are many excellent books, for every age level, on dealing with the loss of loved ones, including pets.  Recognize that children often have a very special and close bond with their pets.  Be prepared to help them face their loss and allow them to grieve.

      Each child is different, and parents (or the children themselves) can decide how much to involve a particular child in the euthanasia process.  You might choose to have your children present for the entire process, be present only while the pet is getting sleepy from the sedative, or you might have them say goodbye, then go for a walk until the process is completed.  Or you may have them say goodbye before I arrive, then only be involved later with the burial, scattering the ashes, or memorializing the pet.  There are many ways in which a child can be involved in saying goodbye to their pet, from choosing the urn for the ashes to making a memory book. One of the nicest features of a home euthanasia, is that children (or any family member) can choose to be present for whatever part(s) of the process that they feel comfortable with.

     Please see the excellent and thorough article titled "Helping Children Cope" at

     Also, here is another great web page suggested by one of our readers entitled "A Kid's Guide to Dealing With the Loss of a Pet".  It has a wealth of information and links for children coping with pet loss.  (Please note that Journey's End is not affiliated with Blue Buffalo in any way.)