child with dog

5 Ways to Help Kids Cope With Dog Dying

When a dog dies, the entire family grieves the devastating loss of their loyal, furry companion. Some kids have never known life without this special pet by their side, and many times this is a child's first experience processing what death really means and whether or not dogs go to heaven. There are certain steps parents can take to help kids cope with a dog's death. Keep in mind there is no quick fix or shortcut to bypass the sadness a child feels. However, there are certain things that will provide little ones with outlets for their grief and alleviate the pain over time.  

toddler with dog

Helping Children Grieve When a Dog Dies  

Create a memorial for the dog.

 Keeping the memory of a dog alive can provide immense comfort for a child. Figure out how to best preserve your favorite moments, stories, and experiences. Some ideas include making a photo book, creating a slideshow, writing down funny stories, and documenting all the unique personality quirks of the family pet. Whenever children feel sad, they can revisit these precious memories and feel a little reprieve.


boy with dog

Be honest about death.

Talk openly and honestly about what death means to your family in terms of religious or spiritual ideals. If an afterlife is part of your belief system, this is a great opportunity to share ideas about what the dog's life looks like after crossing the rainbow bridge. Be truthful about the quality of a dog's life if it was suffering from illness or ailments associated with old age. Reinforce the fact that the beloved pup is at peace and no longer suffering.


 girl with dog

Look for behavioral changes in your child.

Grief does not present the same way in every child. Expression of sadness through crying is the most obvious behavior, but not all kids will respond in this manner. Some kids will become withdrawn or irritable. Mood swings, talking back, appetite loss, and poor performance in school are all signs of sadness that may be linked to a dog dying. Just remember that these behaviors are symptoms of underlying grief that needs to be addressed.


girl with dog  

Consider getting a new dog.

When a beloved dog dies, it's almost impossible to imagine loving another furry friend in the same way again. And in some ways, it can feel like an act of betrayal to immediately bring a new dog into the family. Yet many people report that adopting a pet to replace the one that recently passed is the best remedy for a broken heart. The distraction and responsibility of taking care of the dog is helpful in the grieving process. Even more importantly, kids will quickly fall in love with the new pup who will provide the same loyalty and companionship of the one that passed.


dog and little boy  

Read picture books about a dog dying.

Reading stories about the loss of a pet is probably one of the best first steps to help a child process grief. The characters in the stories help validate the emotional devastation children experience when their best furry friend is no longer by their side. Through these picture books, kids will learn that their sad feelings are normal. But even more importantly, they will come to understand that one day happy memories will replace the enormous sense of loss currently weighing them down. Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant is one of the most popular stories shared with children dealing with grief from loss of a pet.


boy with dog


Find More Children's Books About Grief

Tender Stories About a Cat Dying

Picture Books About Loss of Grandparents

Books to Cope with a Parent's Death

Back to blog