Talking With Children About Sick Pets

Posted on: 30 September 2015


If you have a pet that is ill or aging, this can be hard for everyone in the family to bear. This can be a good opportunity to teach your child about saying goodbye to a pet and how to care for a pet that might not recover from an illness. Here are four tips when it comes to talking to kids about sick pets.

1. Be Honest With Your Child

If your pet has an illness that they will not recover from, don't keep this from your child. They will know something is going on if there are trips to the emergency veterinarian and if their pet just isn't the same. This can be a hard time, but your child should be given the facts in a way that they can understand. Your child will need to eventually learn about loss and death, and an ailing pet can be a special and caring way to teach them about this. Explain what is happening as best you can.

2. Have the Vet Talk With Your Child

The veterinarian can also answer any of your child's questions when it comes to a pet's ailments and end of life care. They can answer practical questions about common pet ailments, the lifespan of pets, and preventative measures when it comes to helping keep pets healthy. They can give your child tips for assisting a sick pet in being as comfortable as possible.

3. Have Your Child Give Sick Pets Space

Sick pets may become anxious or aggressive if they are confused or in pain. Work with your vet to make sure that your pet is given medication to help ease pain, and make sure that your child understands that a sick pet will need space. Set your pet up in a place that is comfortable and remind your child that they will need to be calm and approach their pet on the pet's terms.

4. Saying Goodbye to Pets

If your pet will need to be put down, make sure that your child is given the chance to say goodbye. Talk with them and acknowledge their sadness and respect the mourning process. It might not be a good idea for your child to come to the veterinarian if your pet is put to sleep, but they should be aware this is happening and be involved.

If you have a sick or older pet that will not be around for much longer, this can be hard to explain to a child. Depending on your child's maturity level, try to explain what is happening at a level they can understand. Don't keep this a secret and let them be a part of caring for a sick pet and ultimately saying goodbye. If you're looking for an emergency vet in your area, visit Robert Irelan DVM.