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What Do I Tell My Kiddos About Putting My Dog to Sleep

We're going to be putting our oldest dog to sleep on Wednesday. My children are 18 months (which I'm not to worried about explaining it to him because he won't get it anyways, and 3 years. I'm wondering how to tell my 3 year old about it. I don't want to use the word Sick or Sleep becase I'm worried that may freak him out the next time someone is sick, etc. So, what do y'all recommend?

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We had a similar situation when my daughter was your son's age. We just explained to her that our dog, smokie, passed away and went to doggie heaven. Leave it at that, unless he asks questions and answer them honestly. Also resist the temptation to go and get another puppy or dog. At least until some time goes by so he doesn't get the impression that loved ones are easily replaced when they die.

Good Luck and sorry for your family loss!

I would say it is time for him to go to doggie heaven and be with God. What about the disney film all dogs go to heaven.
L. T

First, please accept my condolences. I went through this last year with my sweet dog, who I had before husband or child! My child is a little older and understood it a little more. Ask your vet if they have a copy of the poem "Rainbow Bridge" and read it to your 3-year-old. (you can find it on the internet, as well.) I don't know what your plans are as far as your dog's remains, but it might be a good idea to have a little memorial ceremony at home, just a couple of minutes to remember good times. Death is a part of life, and kids seem to understand that better than we adults do, sometimes! I agree, don't say "sick" or "sleep"--just explain that dogs only live a certain number of years, not like people, and it was your dog's time to go, and the vet will "help" him not hurt anymore. As for yourself, be kind to yourself & let yourself mourn apart from your kiddos. Your vet's office will be very supportive, too. Don't hesitate to ask for their help.

My kids were 1 and 3 when we had to do this. Our dog had lost the use of everything from the waist down, so it was obvious to the 3 year old that there was a problem. After many attempts at helping we decided the best thing ws to put the dog to sleep. I told her that we have done all we can do, it is not fair to the dog to continue at our house. We are taking her to the vet and letting them do what they can now and she will not be coming back home. We let the kids(the one yr old did not know what was going on of course) go to the vet with us and say goodbye in one of the exam rooms and then we left. It was many years later when my daughter asked about it again and I then explained that the dog had died at the vets.

We had this same issue last year and our son had just turned 3. We were also in the middle of moving, so that added some confusion to the whole thing. We told him honestly that she was sick and old and was tired of fighting to get well (she really was very sick and he knew that). We told him that she was in heaven and we would see her again some day. The poem "The Rainbow Bridge" helped us a lot in dealing with it. This site also may have more help on talking to your kids http://rainbowsbridge.com/Poem.htm.

I'm sorry for your loss. Losing pets is always hard.


Our cat died a few weeks ago.. and at first, I was going to say that she went to live on a farm, or something to that effect, but decided to tell him that she is with Jesus in Heaven. He goes to a Christian preschool, so he actually seemed relieved. I never used the word died.. I just said.. she is in heaven... my inlaws lost a cat last year, so I told him the recent cat that died went to go visit the other cat. I am glad I didn't say live on a farm, because that is what I said at first with my inlaws cat, and he asked about her a million times a day.. when I finally said the cat went to heaven.. he asked a few questions for the next few days, but hasn't mentioned it since.

Good luck!

I think this situation will likely be harder on yourself and husband than the 3 year old. Others have already mentioned what you can tell them about the whats and whys, but you do need to be prepared to tell your 3 year old why you yourself may be so upset. Personally, I cry as if my very best friend has died when we have to have a pet put down or they die and have found that it is important that you don't hide your grief and share why you're sad to show your child that grief is a natural part of life. Just make sure that you don't dwell on it too much and just move forward.

On the point about whether our pets go to heaven, we're having that discussion in our house right now. We've had alot of pets over the years and I always told my son whose now 11 that we'll see them again in heaven. But, he was very sad the other nite as he said that since animals don't have souls, they don't go to heaven. That is hard for me as an adult to accept, so I think it's perfectly okay to tell a 3 year old that they go to doggie heaven and whether that's the same heaven as where we all go, no one knows, but we can always pray that it is :) I tend to over-ponder things like this, but if it is true that they don't go to heaven, it's just further justification for the importance of treating them well in their current life.

there is a book called Dog Heaven, I'd highly recommend it.

Hi C., we dealt with this same issue two weeks ago. We told our 3 year old daughter that our kitty was very sick and this time the doctor couldn't make her better. We had the kitty put to sleep then brought the kitty home and told my daughter that she was in a special kind of sleep now. We buried the kitty in the yard with some flowers in the grave and sang her a song. Now the kitty "lives in our hearts and memories". My daughter asks about the kitty every day and reminds me that she lives in our hearts now. She'll go and talk or sing at the kitty's grave too, it is very sweet. I, of course, cry my eyes out everytime I see this sweet scene. Best of luck to you and my condolences for your loss. N.

We have had to do this before. We just told our little girl that 'Fred', or whatever the dog's name, has cancer, or whatever, and has to go live with Jesus now. We went on to say that, there are lots of other dogs up there for him to play with so he won't be lonely. You may say dogs don't go to heaven, but Jesus made them so why wouldn't they?

Then of course we got a new dog.

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