Pet Issue

Updated on May 26, 2011
S.A. asks from Culpeper, VA
9 answers

We found out yesterday that our dearly loved lab probably has a tumor in her jaw/cheek area. The vet did x-rays which showed a decent size place which is rock hard. She aspirated some cells out of it and it had a few she thinks may be malignant cells. We are currently giving her antibiotics on the slim chance there is an infection going on. We are also giving her an anti-inflamatory and pain med to make her comforitable so she will eat. We will know more Friday. If our fears are confirmed and we end up having to put her to sleep what and how do you tell a 4 and 6 year old? Thanks in advance for your suggestions!!

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answers from Kansas City on

You are as honest as possible but gentle. Please don't use words like "put to sleep" or the dog "went to sleep" because they may associate sleeping with someone going away and never coming back.
There is a great book called Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant. Very kid friendly.

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answers from Bloomington on

To my almost 4 year old, we say that they were sick and God took them to Heaven so that they won't be in pain anymore. My 4 year old knows that when someone/something dies, we bury their body and they go to Heaven to be with God. We also tell him that the deceased are in Heaven watching over and protecting us.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

We just went through this last week with our 4 and 7 yo and our beloved cat. Our 4 yo didn't seem to take much notice until later that night when he realized that dying wasn't like Wii where you get thrown in the air. My 7 yo will tell us she misses him every now and then and how sad she is. We told them how much pain he was in and how he was very old and how he needed to go to kitty heaven so he could be pain free and run around again. We told them that he would meet our other cat up there and my parents dog and that he would be looking down on us to make sure we are all okay. And I didn't tell them I put the cat to sleep, only that he stopped breathing at the vet's office. I hope it works out for your dog.



answers from Dallas on

A few suggestions. You need to be careful that your kids don't associate being sick with dying. They may then think that if they get sick then they will die. When a friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer, she told her kids separately so they can ask questions and so that she could talk to them more on their level. That way she could allow them to deal with it individually and then have support from the family.

This is a tough one, but I think the mamas out here are giving you some good advice...good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

What you tell them depends on your beliefs. If you believe in God and heaven you tell them about that, if you don't, you tell them their pet is very sick and is going to die. We as adults tend to dwell on these events more than young children do. I would think about what you are going to say, and be prepared to answer questions, but don't say more than is needed.


answers from Dallas on

I follow the advice to be as honest as you can without giving to many details. Some people want to give the "Rainbow bridge" story. We chose not too. Didn't want any made up cute fantasy story to hide the real valid sadness that one feels when they suffer a loss of a friend. Don't be surprised by the reaction of lack of. Kids seem to process things on their own time and way. I would suggest going ahead and telling her if she doesn't already know that your dog is sick and maybe sick with something that you can't help with medicine. If she asks questions, again be honest. That away she gets to say a good bye if things do go the other way and she needs to be put down. It's hard, but used the correct words. Use words like die and not sleep. So sorry to hear that you all are going through this. We lost our Pug dog two weeks ago very suddenly and our 15 year old cat was diagnosed with Lymphoma a week ago. We are keeping him comfortable with steroids, vitamin K injections and fluids at home. I have a 4 and a 6 year old. They are sad but understand the truth of what is happening. We are now saying our good byes and coming to terms with a close ending to having our friend around here on earth. I hope for a good report for your dog.
Best Regards,



answers from New York on

Your kids will be sad - but they are still young enough that they won't really get the concept completely. My kids were 5 & 8 when we had to put down our kitty who had been such a love to them in their baby-hood. I didn't tell them that she was being injected, I just tol them that she was so sick that she was dying and the vet was going to make sure that she didn't have a lot of pain. When I took her to the vet I told the kids she's so close to dying now that it's probably going to happen very,very soon so say goodbye. they both kissed her and hugged her and I drove off to the vet.

Our kitty also had cancer around her jaw - she had 3 injections of steroids - which shrunk the tumor and improved her quality of life. Each one provided relief but lasted less time that the previous one. But all in all the injections allowed her an extra 4-5 months. I held her while she was getting put to sleep and she was in my arms (her favorite place in the world) being petted until she took her final breath.

We still have a Christmas tree ornament with her name on it and we reflect when we take it out - but the kids got over it pretty quickly. I took longer. ;o) In fact the kids wanted to know, that afternoon, when we could get a new cat. And we got 2 new kitties a few weeks later.

Best of luck - pets are family members and it's never easy to say good-bye.



answers from Norfolk on

We just lost one of our labs in December due to the same thing. Sarcoma tumor in her mouth......we did antiinflammatories and steroids and some pretty hefty pain meds for about a month, at which point we were maxed out and she was not doing well anymore. We told our kids who were 3 and 4.5 years old at the time she was diagnosed that she had a big boo-boo in her mouth called cancer that could not be fixed. We said it might not be much longer that she can stay with us, but we will keep her here with us as long as we can do it and keep her comfortable. I explained to them when the time comes that we can no longer help her stay comfortable and happy, it will be time to have the vet. help her go to Heaven. I explained that the vet. had special medicine that could help Taylor go to Heaven without hurting her at all, and that she would no longer be in pain. I explained when the time came that she was in pain even though we had done everything possible for her, and it was time to say goodbye and let God take care of her now.....that only God could fix the cancer in her mouth and make it so she could eat, drink, bark, and be happy again. They didn't like seeing her in pain when the day came, so they understood that she would never feel pain again when she went, and that gave them great peace. I had our vet. come to our home, so they were able to kiss and hug her and say goodbye, but then I put them in their rooms for nap time for the actual euthanasia so that they didn't have to watch. My older child had asked if he could see her one more time afterwards, so we let him come and kiss and hug her one more time after the vet was done for closure....but our youngest chose not to come see her once she had passed, and that was fine with me. Dog Heaven and For Every Dog an Angel were must-reads in our house, and they still read them very often....digging those books out on their own. They both have a black lab stuffed animal that they sleep with and carry around, and talk about her every day and pray for her every night. It's been 6 months and it is still on their minds daily, even though they are young it really does affect them, so it's good that you are being sensitive to their emotions with it all. Hang in there, I totally feel for you on this one, it is not easy when our furry friends get sick :( They really liked getting to help with the medicine while we still had her, I told them she would always remember and be thankful for how great they were with her....I would wrap he pills in a pill pocket and they took turns giving it to her...they loved helping her in any way they could.....hand feeding her with soft food when she couldn't get it out of the bowl, and handing her medicine really made them feel included and like big helpers to her.



answers from Washington DC on

There are a number of great books for kids on this subject. "The Tenth Good Thing About Barney" by Judith Voirst (sp?) would be at the top of my list. Keep it simple; our dog was sick and so the vet helped her go to doggie heaven. She's happy there and not in pain any more. I'd let them say goodbye prior. Good luck. I hope you get good news instead of bad, but if you have to say goodbye, my sympathies.

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