What We Do

When a Pet Dies...

....it's one of the worst feelings in the world.

The only bad thing about having a pet is that most pets don't live as long as humans do. A pet may die from old age, or a pet may die from an illness or injury.

Sometimes a pet becomes so sick and is in so much pain that the family will choose to have the pet put to sleep. This means a veterinarian will give an injection that stops the pet's heart, brain and body functions from working, and the animal dies. There is no pain or suffering when a pet is put to sleep. If your pet is going to be put to sleep, you should think about whether you want to be with him or her.

If your pet has just died, you may feel pretty sad for a while. It is normal to feel any or all of the following ways:

Very, very sad, lonely and empty inside.

Sometimes you may hear the sound of your pet calling you, or think you see your pet out of the corner of your eye, even though you know it couldn't be true. This doesn't mean you're crazy. It just means that your brain needs a little more time to get used to your pet being gone.

You may feel angry that your friend's pet is still alive, when your pet has died. It seems unfair.

You might worry that your pet has died because you think you did not take care of your pet in the right way.

You may be wondering what happens to pets after they die. Do they go to Heaven? Will you ever see your pet again?

You might want a new dog or cat right away, but then you think that getting another pet would be disloyal to your pet who died.

You might think some people will laugh at you because you loved your pet so much.

During the really rough times, there are some things that you can do to feel better:

It is good to do something special after your pet dies, like draw a picture of him or write a letter to him or her. If you have the ashes of your pet, you can keep them in a special place.

Sometimes it can help to have a memorial service, where you, your family and friends who loved your pet get together and remember the great things about your pet. If you have a backyard, you can plant a tree or flowers in your pet's honor. Your parents can help you plan this.

It might make you feel better to keep something that your pet really loved—like a favorite blanket or favorite toy. Whenever you look at it, you'll think of your pet.

Gather up photographs of your pet, and make a special photo album. If you want, you can arrange it chronologically, by starting with pictures of when your pet was a baby. You can also include information about your pet's favorite toys, treats and things to do.

Talk, talk, talk! Sitting down with your family and sharing memories of your pet can make you sad—but it can make you laugh, too, when you think of all funny things your pet did.

Keep busy. You may not feel like doing much of anything, but it can help to do some of the things you always do—like going to rugby training after school, or going for a bike ride.

Read a book. There are some really good books out there about losing a pet.  You can check them out of your library or find them at a bookstore.

What can you do when a good friend's pet has died?

Tell them that you're sorry, and that you're available to listen if they need to talk. They may not feel like it at first, so you may have to be patient.

There are other ways to show you care about your friend. You could give them a card and a present.  Don't worry if you can't get your pal a present—giving them a card that you made yourself will show your concern, too.

Information courtesy of the ASPCA


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