Be honest with children about pet deaths, vet says

Thursday, 16th August 2012

For many children, when a pet dies it is the first time they have to deal with bereavement, so it is important to be honest about it with them.

That is according to vet Mark Pinches, who was writing for pet insurance company Petplan.

He wrote: "Death is one of the most valuable aspects of pet ownership in terms of a child's subsequent psychological development.

"The loss of a pet can evoke powerful emotions but, if handled sensitively, it can make children more robust emotionally."

Dr Pinches said that if you hide a pet's death they may be frightened, while telling them the animal ‘has gone to sleep’ or something to that effect will make it more difficult for children to accept the finality of death.

When it comes to pets being put down, some children ask to be there. The vet said he explains the procedure and most children chose to leave, but allowing them the option helps them to be involved.

Finally, Dr Pinches suggests getting the child to make a memory box of the pet, with pictures, drawings and the animal's favourite pet toy.