I Have a 3 Yr Old girl....any Suggestions on Handling Pet Loss with Her?

Updated on July 10, 2007
J.C. asks from Chicago, IL
5 answers

I have a 3 yr old girl. She absolutely loves her 10 yr old great dane and so I fear that when he is gone, she will have a difficult time. We already lost another great dane back a few months ago but she is def. more attached to this one. She also seemed to have especially grown attached after that first loss. At the time we lost the first, she almost seemed to think he would eventually come back. Our 2nd little guy recently got very sick and had to go to the E.R. I pretty much was advised to put him down if he didn't get better. We decided to put him on antibiotics and pain relievers in hope that it would help even though it wasn't 100% that he would.

Please share any ideas of how I may handle this if we lose him. My daughter is not even 3 1/2 yet (acts very grown up but of coursse won't really understand).

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So What Happened?

Thank you all for your advice. Our little guy is still hanging in there and she is still really enjoying him. She mostly sits on his huge homemade bed and lays her head on his belly (while telling him stories or simply twirling his ears) when she is not out walking him or giving him a drink at the bathroom sink.

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answers from Chicago on

This can be quite difficult for a young child- When my daughter was 3 we had to have our cat out to slep due to severe medical issues with her. First off, we never used the word "sick" out our cat. We were afraid that my kids would relate their everyday "sicknesses" to mean "going to Heaven". So, we said things like "the cat has an illness" or the "cat has a disease". These weren't words that we regularly used so we felt confortable that the kids would not relate their minor colds with death. Next, we explained that our cat went to be with God in Heaven. Now, in hindsight, that has been difficult, since my kids sometimes ask if they can go see God- but that is likely as a result of any religious conversations we might have. My daughter (and younger son) really dealt well with the death- but we talked about it alot with them. Good luck and my sympathies.

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answers from Chicago on

There is a book called Lifetimes that was really helpful when we needed to explain death to our 3 (now 5) year old son. The book talks about how every living thing has a life, and how every living thing reaches the end of that life. It's a gentle book that discusses everything from bugs to people. I highly recommend it. Maybe you could start reading it to her now so that she'll have a better understanding of the loss of your Great Dane when it happens.



answers from Chicago on

Our daughter also lost a beloved pet. She saw him sick, he went to the vet, brought him home and back to vet the next day where he died. We didn't know until after, he had cancer. She was about the same age and it made her very upset to see the adults upset. We explained that we miss him but he is in kitty heaven now where he will never hurt or be in any pain. He has everything he ever wants to play with, eat, jump on, ride in (he loved car rides) there. That was over a year ago. We still talk about him. Only when she brings him up however. Hope this helps. Best wishes!



answers from Chicago on

The previous suggestion sounded good too. We have the book "Dog Heaven" and it explains the loss of a pet dog very well.

My 3 year old was 1 when we lost our first dog, so there wasn't a whole lot of explaining, but we have had several people/pets die in our extended family that the book helps (we change the characters).

I would talk to your daughter about how the dog is sick and possibly "prepare" her that he might not be around much. Not sure of your religious background, but we use "going to heaven" too.

We just lost my son's beloved goldfish and I was really surprised at the good, though provoking questions he asked. He did really well.

All this to say that there really is no wrong way to talk about it. Be honest and open and let her ask questions and talk about it. I know that losing a pet is hard, very hard. Good luck with these next few days and weeks.



answers from Chicago on

We were just honest. We lost our dog, 14yr old lab, last March. We said that Justice was very very sick and old and died and went to heaven. My Uncle Just past away last weee=k and she seemed to have a grasp on that he was very sick and old and went to heaven to be with Justice. Sadly death is a part of life. I would just be as honest as you can. Let her see your emotions and let her know it is ok to be sad.
Good luck with everything

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