Dog Stories for Dog Owners

How to Tell a Child About Putting a Dog Down

Losing a family member whether it’s a human or an animal is always hard. We form connections and bonds with them that become really important. One of the hardest parts about losing the family pet is telling your kids. If your child is younger their first friend is normally their dog. They will grow up with him/her and love them tremendously. This loss can be heartbreaking for them. Here is some insight on how to tell a child about putting a dog down.

Losing My Childhood Pet

I have been apart of a dog loving family my entire life. We have always had a dog in our household and now we have four. 

However, before we gained all the pups that we have now we had a Chesapeake Bay Retriever. Her name was Chelsey and I grew up with her. She was about four when I was born and we were the bestest of friends. There was never a photo where she wasn’t in the background. She stood by me as a baby all the time. I believe she thought of me as her own and did whatever it took to protect me. 

Years went by and both of us grew older and older. We moved states together, went on many family vacations, and she was apart of our family. 

Once I was about 11 years old Chelsey started to slow down. She wasn’t running around anymore and was having a hard time making it outside to use the bathroom. I remember thinking, “The time must be coming”, I would have to say goodbye.

About a year and a half later of her slowly losing all that had made her the Chelsey I knew and loved, my parents decided that it was time we put her out of her misery. I was sad. However, I think the fact that I realized that this is what she wanted and needed made it a lot easier. Even though I would be losing a huge part of my childhood it was for the best. 

Even though she is gone now, I will always have memories of her and me and my family laugh about them often to keep her apart of our family forever. 

How to Tell a Child About Putting a Dog Down

Depending on your child’s emotional capabilities determines how you may want to tell them. I believe being honest with your child about everything is very important. Kids are curious people and deal better when they know exactly what they are dealing with. 

Be Specific

When telling your child about their furry friend make sure you are specific on why this is happening to them and how it is beneficial. This way they realize that this is what is best for them and what is going to make their friend happy. If you don’t they may feel like they are being punished for something.

Comfort Them

After telling them about what is happening to the dog, you want to make sure they know what is going to happen after they take him/her to the vet. This way they know that their dog will not be in any kind of pain and that they are actually going to feel a lot better. 

Most of the time when the topic of putting your dog down comes up, your dog is either old or has some sort of medical condition that has caused them to suffer. Letting your child know of this is very important. This way they can see that this will actually help them to feel better. 

Love & Understanding

No matter what kind of feelings your child may be feeling, always make sure they know that their feelings are valid. They should know that it is okay to feel upset and grieve the loss of their pet. A lot of times kids will become more sad if they feel guilty for feeling the way they do. Showing them love during this time is very important and will definitely help them to feel better. 


If your child is still really missing their dog you may want to consider getting them something to remember him/her by. Whether it’s a stuffed animal, picture frame with a picture of both of them, or even some sort of trinket this might help them feel closer to their pup and relieve some of their sadness. 

When I was little I had to say goodbye to my pacifier. This isn’t the same as losing a dog, but I absolutely loved my paci and was devastated when my mom told me I couldn’t use it anymore. In order to help me feel better she bought me a stuffed animal and put my paci inside of it. This way I still felt connected to it in some way. 

Death Is Hard

It is so hard to deal with both you and your children’s feelings all at once. We hope that these little tips have helped you determine how exactly you are going to break the terrible news. Just know that you are not alone in this and it will all get better eventually. 

Related Article:

Dreaming About Your Dog’s Death

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