To You & Your Pet(s)!!!

FDA Warns About Tainted Dog Treats
By Margo Sullivan - The Eagle-Tribune

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued another caution about tainted pet food from China. This time, no specific brands are being recalled, but the government is letting pet owners know imported dog treats made with chicken jerky are suspected of making pets sick.

This is not the first time the government has warned dog owners some serious illnesses, including kidney failure, have been associated with treats sold in the pet food aisle under names like chicken tenders and chicken strips. A previous caution was issued in September 2007.

But according to Mike Herndon, press officer with the FDA, the problems with chicken jerky treats apparently are still being reported.

"This is an update," he said. "It's more of a public health notice because there have been so many complaints."

So far, the investigators have not found the ingredient causing contamination. The cause of illnesses may ultimately be identified as something other than chicken jerky from China, according to the FDA announcement.

But meanwhile, some dogs have died after eating chicken jerky products made in China.

Chicken jerky treats are still on supermarket shelves in New England chains such Hannaford, which has stores in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

The Londonderry, N.H., store, for example, has not received any recall notices, a spokeswoman said.

"Chicken jerky is very popular," said Traci Denver, assistant manager at Londonderry's Pets Plus. Her store sells a line of "all natural, holistic" treats, which are not from China and not included in the FDA warning. But Denver has had to pull low-end chicken jerky products off the shelf in the past.

"We do that as soon as we get any kind of notice," she said.

Veterinarian Gene Handel, owner of Handel with Care in Derry, said the supermarket aisles are stocked with all kinds of treats, and it's hard for consumers to guess which chicken jerky treats are safe.

"Consumers are not aware of all the multiple food products that go into a treat," he said. "Some ingredients come from many parts of the world." Given the different safety standards internationally, Handel said, it would be almost impossible for dog owners to figure out which products have been checked thoroughly for safety.

People give their dogs jerky for "a variety of reasons," Handel said. "People love their dogs. It's a way of showing affection and letting their dog enjoy something they can provide. It's like a little gift."

The FDA advises dog owners to watch their pets carefully if they feed them chicken jerky treats, and call a veterinarian if symptoms, including loss of appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea, thirst or increased urination, persist 24 hours.

Otherwise, dog owners should not substitute jerky treats for a balanced diet and should use these products "only occasionally" and in small quantities.

Small-dog owners should take special precautions to limit their pet's consumption of chicken jerky treats.

The FDA caution also notifies dog owners the Australian government is recalling some chicken jerky products made in China.

Kansas Shelters See Surge in Abandoned Horses
Fox News

WICHITA, Kan. — Dogs and cats aren't the only animals suffering as the economy takes a toll on pet owners.

Rescue groups in Kansas say they're seeing a surge in the number of horses being abandoned, especially older horses.

"Their owners can't or don't want to take care of them and turn them loose," said Andre Miller, president and founder of the Hope in the Valley Equine Rescue and Sanctuary near Valley Center. "Animal control picks them up and brings them to us. We are getting more starved and neglected animals."

Rescue groups like Hope in the Valley take care of homeless horses and try to find people willing to adopt them. But that's becoming harder as the prices of hay and grain rise, and rescue groups are receiving fewer donations.

Miller said the 3-year-old shelter normally cares for 10 to 15 abandoned horses at any given time. But in recent months that number has jumped to between 25 and 30 animals.

Some of the horses are adopted quickly while others may spend years at the shelter.

Not all the stories end happily. Sedgwick County animal control officers seized a group of horses, including 7-month-old colt Emmett, and brought them to the shelter after finding them without food or water. Counties can seize animals or work with owners to bring horses up to health standards.

Veterinarians recently euthanized Emmett, who was born with crooked legs, after determining he was in pain.

County officials said the holiday made it difficult to say exactly how many horses had been abandoned last week but they said the spike is due to many factors.

"The economy enters into it but it is just one of the issues," said Glen Wilse, director of Sedgwick County's code enforcement, which oversees the animal control department. "Your older horses require higher-priced feed to maintain the rate of health. They require more care. People want them but sometimes forget they have to have all the special care."

It typically costs between $1,500 and $2,000 a year to maintain a horse, not including veterinary costs, Miller said.

"We notice these horses aren't having the care they need," said Wichita veterinarian Jason Kiser, who often consults with Miller's rescue group. "With the economy the way it is, people are having trouble making ends meet. They are not able to take care of the horses like they would want."

In addition, more horses are coming to the attention of authorities as new laws allow them to get involved in potential abuse or neglect cases sooner. Also, television shows have made people more people aware of animal abuse and willing to report problems, said Karen Everhart, executive director and co-founder of Rainbow Meadows Equine Ranch and Retirement near Sedan.

Officials with rescue groups hopes that increased awareness also means bigger donations to their operations.

"We rely mostly on donations and my paycheck," said Miller, a full-time nurse. "The donations are down to trickles."

Are Your Pets ‘Red Cross Ready’ for Emergencies?
The Greenwich-Post

Would you know how to care for your pet if injured or in an emergency that forced you to leave home? A recent poll, conducted by the American Red Cross and the Council for Excellence in Government, found that more than one in three Americans said they would delay or ignore a mandatory evacuation to save a pet. What would happen if your pet were injured or your neighborhood was hit by a severe storm or flood and you had to evacuate? The Greenwich chapter of the American Red Cross has pet products and information to help.

First aid

Stored in a convenient fanny pack, this practical pet first aid kit contains latex gloves, gauze pads, rescue blanket, eyewash, antibiotic ointment, bandages, tape, and other items to protect against pet emergencies.

First aid guide

Whether your pet becomes ill or injured, or needs help in a disaster, the American Red Cross Pet First Aid book with DVD guide teaches you emergency care procedures for cats and dogs and provides tips for keeping pets happy and healthy.

How to respond

To prevent a potential tragedy, it is important for people who have pets or service animals to make plans for their pets before a disaster strikes.

• Get a kit: Assemble a portable emergency preparedness kit for your animals. Store items in a sturdy container that can be carried easily (plastic bin, duffle bag). This kit should include sturdy leashes, harnesses or carriers to transport pets and service animals safely and ensure they can’t escape, three days worth of water and food, bowls, cat litter, manual can opener, medications, medical records, first-aid kit, name and phone number of veterinarian, current photos of your animals in case they get lost, pet beds, and toys, as space permits.

Make a plan

• Research locations where you could shelter your pets in the event you need to evacuate your home. American Red Cross disaster shelters cannot accept pets because of health and safety regulations. Service animals that assist people with disabilities are the only animals allowed in Red Cross shelters.

• Contact hotels and motels outside your immediate area to check policies on accepting pets. Ask if “no pet” policies could be waived in an emergency.

• Ask friends, relatives, animal shelters, or veterinarians outside the affected area if they could provide emergency shelter for your animals in a disaster.

• Keep a list of “pet friendly” places that are located along your evacuation routes, including phone numbers, with your disaster supplies kit.

Be informed

• Listen to the advice of local officials, and if it is possible you will be asked to evacuate, call ahead to confirm emergency shelter arrangements for you and your pets. Bring all pets inside so that you will not have to search for them if you have to evacuate in a hurry.

For more information or products, call 869-8444 or visit

Dogs, Cats Can Help Owners Keep Resolutions

Experts offer tips for pet owners on starting the new year off right.

Pet owners who are planning to make New Year’s resolutions might want to enlist the help of their dog or cat to help stick to those goals.

Lorraine Corriveau, a wellness veterinarian at Purdue University’s School of Veterinary Medicine, says that as people draw up a list of resolutions for 2009, it’s a good idea to keep pets in mind as well. One way to do so is by making time to exercise and play with them more often.

According to the American Kennel Club, resolutions are things that can be shared with a pet. For example, to follow a healthy diet, pets and their owners are advised to stop eating too many calories.

In addition, the AKC recommends that pet owners set regular meal times, cut back on meal portions, and keep track of the amount of calories consumed by pets and pet owners.

Resolving to help others by volunteering can also be done with the help of a dog or cat. Corriveau says pet owners can donate time, effort, or resources to a local animal welfare organization.

To start the new year off right, Corriveau offered the following tips:

* Spay or neuter your pets, adding more years to their lives and improving their behavior.

* Provide them age-appropriate health care.

* Give them a diet suited to their age and medical condition. Pets kept at their ideal body weight live longer. Look for foods designed for different stages of life and medical conditions.

* Give them medicines regularly to prevent heartworm and fleas.

* Groom them at home, especially minor grooming procedures, because it causes less stress.

* Ask your veterinarian or seek expert advice on behavior problems. A basic training class might be useful, especially for a new puppy.

* Socialize dogs with other animals and people by enrolling them in a dog park, agility/training class, or socialization class.

* If your pet is especially social, patient, and people-oriented, consider certifying it as a therapy animal. Studies show that pets increase a person’s life span, help speed recovery in cases of young and old patients, and are a good moral booster to people in various psychiatric and medical programs.

Treating Arthritis in Dogs and Cats
by Carol Alexander, NY Pets Alternative Health Examiner

The inflammatory process known as arthritis is extremely uncomfortable, even crippling, to many pets. It is often age-related, and can be degenerative. Arthritis can also be brought on by infection and other forms of physical trauma. There are three main forms of this condition: bacterial arthritis, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

With any form of arthritis, one or more of the joints becomes inflamed and swollen, limiting the animal’s mobility. You may notice symptoms of the condition when your pet has difficulty jumping up, running, or even walking easily. Diagnosis should be made by a veterinarian and treatment options discussed. Frequently, the conventional drug of choice is a corticosteroid, which can have side effects such as muscle weakness, ulcers, fatty deposits, and adrenal suppression. Steroids should not be used on a long-term basis, particularly without ongoing supervision of a veterinarian.

Alternative therapies for arthritis include Glucosamine, MSM, Chondrotin, flaxseed oil, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, and massage. There are also several compounds on the market that claim to treat arthritis in pets with great efficacy. An independent survey concluded that FlexPet with CM8 and Arthro-IonX, both commercially available through their web sites, have the greatest success rate. A company called PermaHEALTH, Inc. also offers a compound of CMO (Cerasomal cis-9-cetyl myristoleate) that has been used by humans and animals on either a short- or long-term basis.

As with any medical condition, you’ll want to get expert advice. That goes for the other treatments discussed on this site. Obviously, pet owners must use common sense. My husband and I have established a productive dialogue with our veterinarian about combining traditional and alternative treatments for our dog’s health issues, and you might be able to do the same, depending upon how broadminded your vet happens to be. Always, the health and comfort of your pet comes first – no need to “choose sides” between holistic and traditional medicine.

Living With the "Barking Dog"
by Donna Ralph - Denver.yourhub

This year for the first time, coyote pups came to rehab at EWRC. They were victims of fires and tornadoes, found orphaned and alone after disaster struck. Typically the coyotes that come here for rehab are injured adults that might need veterinary care and time to recover from their injuries before being released back where they came from. Their care in rehab at EWRC is pretty much hands-off and stress-free, with as little human contact as possible.

Coyote pups have entirely different needs than mature coyotes and properly raising them from pups into properly-socialized, mentally healthy animals that will succeed in the wild was quite a challenge! With a lot of help and advice from a good friend and canine/wolf/coyote expert, Sue Cranston, I believe we succeeded in doing just that. Proper formulas and diets aside, medical care and treatment as necessary, our biggest challenge was raising pups without taming or imprinting them while giving them the care they needed, as all puppies do, to learn and grow, and develop properly. Fortunately several pups came to rehab in the approximate time period, size and age, and were raised together for proper socialization to coyotes, NOT people! The coyotes were released and from all accounts have joined the resident wild coyote groups.

Over the years people have asked us why we "waste" our time and resources on these canines that most people consider nuisances at the very least. My response has always been that I'm not the one who put them on the planet and it's not my place to decide who has the right to exist and who doesn't. Whether majestic eagles or timid mice, cottontails or coyotes, wildlife that comes to rehab here is always given the best possible care; we don't discriminate!

As habitat is lost all around us, particularly in our area, I think most of us notice the problems all wildlife is having, not just coyotes. Fortunately the coyote, a mammal found throughout most of the United States and Canada, is pretty adaptable. From fields and forests and urban areas, to cities and deserts and mountains, the coyote, a mammal that mates for life, is part of the wolf and domestic dog family, and has had to learn to adapt to survive. In Colorado the hapless coyote has been the unfortunate target of eradication efforts dating as far back as 1915.

Coyotes consume plant material as well as prey food items; mainly rodents, rabbits, and squirrels, and they benefit us by helping control the rodent population. These canids help clean up the environment by eating carrion. Coyotes are generally more afraid of us than we are of them, and coyote attacks on humans are rare. However, in areas where people and coyotes coexist, coyotes might lose some of their fear of humans. A sick, injured, and/or frightened coyote will likely defend itself and as is the case with wildlife encountered by people, it is best to leave the animal alone and call a professional for help. Remember that it is illegal in Colorado to keep wildlife without proper permits.

Protecting your pets in coyote territory is the responsible thing to do. Coyotes will attack cats and dogs; it's what they do as predators that need to eat. Also remember that wild animals, including coyotes, can carry disease and parasites that can be brought home with your pets. For a number of reasons allowing your pet to run around loose, especially at night and/or unsupervised, isn't good for the animal or anyone else, and remember that coyotes (and other predators) won't necessarily be deterred by an 8-foot fence.

Coyotes are good diggers, climbers, and jumpers. You can do the wildlife and your community a favor by removing the very things that attract "nuisance" wildlife to your area in the first place. Keep the pet food inside with the pets. Don't put pet food out for wildlife, other than birds. Keep your garbage tightly covered and don't put it out until trash day. Protect your pets!

We believe that each and every living creature makes a very important contribution to the balance of our natural environment and ecosystem, and that removing one creature because it's a nuisance for us ultimately creates more problems than solutions. Each of us can make a difference in helping our wildlife and protecting our environment.

Top Pet Stories of 2008
by Teri Webster, Pet Examiner

A year ago, no one imagined that a national economic crisis would impact pets as well as people. The past year was filled with many pet stories that caused us to throw our hands up in anger or frustration.

Other stories about our furry friends made us smile or shake our heads in disbelief.
All animal lovers have lists of pet stories that they talked about for hours or sent to people across the country and around the globe via email.
The following is just a small sample of the biggest pet news in 2008.
In its own way, each one speaks to the lessons that pets teach us -- without ever saying a word.

5. Microchips reunite dogs with owners
After five years on the lam, Rocco the beagle was found in Georgia, 850 miles from his New York City home.
Thanks to a microchip embedded under Rocco's skin, Liberty County Animal Control in Hinseville was able to trace the dog back to Queens. Days later, Rocco was reunited with Jorge and Cristina Villacis and their daughter, Natalie.
And microchips were credited with other reunions in 2008.

In Arlington, Texas, a 6-pound Maltese was picked up by an animal control officer who found her wandering along a busy highway about 30 miles from her home.
The dog, Miss Pattiya, had been missing for three years. Her owner, Melanie Dharmagunaratne, Texas, said she was stunned when she received the call that her dog had been found.

Some animal advocates said that a national, uniform microchip system, coupled with greater public awareness of how it works, might bring lost pets back home a lot sooner.
How did these dogs ever do it? No one knows for sure.
And they aren't talking.

4. The lion that roared -- on YouTube
A pet lion's reunion with with his owners happened decades ago.
But when a video of that reunion was posted on YouTube for the first time last summer, it drew more than 6 millions views.

"Christian" was just a cub when he was taken in by Anthony Bourke and John Rendall, two Australians who lived in London in 1969. The lion, adopted as an exotic pet, lived in the basement of a furniture store where the two worked.
As Christian grew, Bourke and Rendall realized that keeping a lion in a furniture store is as bad as having a bull in a china shop.
Christian was taken to Kenya, where he stayed under the care of George Adamson in a natural habitat.

The video, which left many animal lovers misty-eyed, shows Christian's reunion with Bourke and Rendall in Kenya in the early 1970s.
Sometimes (really) old news is still news.
But let's not forget the tiger attack on Roy of Siegfried and Roy in 2003. That showed us that such "pets" are dangerous, even under the care of the most experienced animal handlers.

3. Puppy mills
It has long been an emotional issue for pet lovers.
Puppy mills again took center stage in 2008 after an hour-long special on Oprah Winfrey and The Humane Society of the United State's crackdown on a national pet store chain, Petland.
The Humane Society accused Petland of buying dogs from puppy mills, although the retailer denied those allegations.

On Oprah, videos of puppy mills showed dogs living in filthy, cramped conditions. Some were kept in small cages equipped with hamster-style exercise wheels.
Dozens of complaints can be found on the Internet about puppy mill pets that either died or developed severe -- and costly -- health problems.
Rescue groups say many of the dogs find their way into pet stores. Others are sold over the Internet.
Still, some oppose blanket regulations for breeding, saying it punishes breeders that are reputable and can lead to frivolous complaints.

2. Michael Vick's pit bulls get a new "leash" on life
Former NFL quarterback Michael Vick's operation of a dog fighting ring drew outrage after it thrust the violent practice into the national media spotlight.
Some believed the dogs that survived should have been euthanized. But 47 pit bulls seized from Vick's property were taken to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary of Kanab, Utah, and other rehabilitative shelters across the country.

The lengthy rehabilitation and re-socialization of some of the pit bulls was documented in the television series Dogtown, on the National Geographic Channel.
One of the "prize fighters," Lucas, became one of the most affectionate and lovable dogs, despite a deeply scarred muzzle from his violent past. But a court ruled he could never leave the sanctuary because of his background.

Vick, a former Atlanta Falcons quarterback, is serving a 23-month sentence at maximum-security prison in Leavenworth, Kansas. The NFL suspended him indefinitely without pay.
Vick must also pay nearly $1 million to support the facilities caring for his former pit bulls.

1. A poor economy impacts pets
Rescue workers and animal shelters across the nation knew the economy was in sad shape long before it was officially declared a recession.
By early fall, they noticed a large spike in the number pets being surrendered.
In recent weeks, we learned that our country is facing its greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression.

In that time, history was made, and pets were written into the story.
Across the country, numerous reports surfaced about abandoned pets running freely in the streets. Shelters couldn't take in all the pets being brought to their doorsteps. In Arizona, a group of realtors started a foster program due to large numbers of pets being left behind after families were evicted from foreclosed homes.
Animal advocates have urged people facing financial hardship to make arrangements with friends or family to foster the pets until they are back on their feet. Others have suggested keeping pets through difficult times because they provide emotional comfort.

This report includes material from and the Associated Press.

What to Tell Kids When a Pet Needs to be Put to Sleep?
By Theresa Walsh Giarrusso - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

My mother’s dog had to be put to sleep yesterday, and I had to tell the kids. How would you explain putting animals down to children?

We had a heated discussion yesterday about revealing plot points in the new movie “Marley and Me.” (I don’t think anyone was trying to blow a big secret. I think their point was it may not be appropriate for small children.) I have not read the book and have not seen the movie but I am assuming something bad happens to the cute dog.

Well, coincidentally, my mother’s dog, who she has had for 17 years, has been ill and had to put down yesterday. The dog was in kidney failure and wasn’t eating or using the bathroom. The dog has been blind for a while and has had other conditions the vet has been watching.

It was heartbreaking for my mother. She cried most of the day. (I was sad and crying too but not nearly as much as my poor mom.)

I wanted to let the kids know what was happening to the dog. I’m not a big fan of deceiving kids. I believe in giving them appropriate details. I wanted to give them a chance to say good-bye if they wanted to. I also didn’t want them looking for the dog a week from now saying, “Where in the world is Mimi’s dog?”

So I told them that Mimi’s dog was very ill and had to be taken to the vet. The vet was going to give the dog a shot to put her to sleep and then she would die. I told them the vet couldn’t make her feel better and she was suffering. I told them that doctors never did that to people so not to worry.

My 5-year-old understood what I told him and moved on. My 7-year-old daughter was very sad. She cried for a while. She said she didn’t want to say good-bye to the dog. I think she didn’t want to think about it anymore.

My brother hasn’t told his kids yet. I’m not sure what he’s planning to say.

Have you ever had to tell kids that their pet or a friend’s pet was going to be put to sleep? What words did you use? How much description did you give? Or do you prefer the old “the dog ran away” approach? How much transparency should you have with your children when bad or upsetting things happen?


By kaybee

Several years ago when we put down our very old, very ill dog, we told the truth to our two older kids (8 & 10, respectively), but not to our youngest (3). We just told her our dog had died. I think it depends on the age and maturity of the child.

I highly recommend the picture book “Dog Heaven” to help young children cope. In fact, adults who have loved and lost a dog will love this book too.


Theresa I know the heartbreak of watching your Mom say good-bye to a beloved pet AND having to tell the children. You did the right thing, though you went into more detail than I did. (I did not give the details of the shot but otherwise it went about the same as you)

My oldest wants to be a Vet. She told me the other day “I want to help animals get better. Then if I cannot, it will be sad but I will help the owners do what is right to make the pain go away.” I thought that very mature for a 9yo.

By jg

We had our dog Muffin since I was about 7 - when I was 8 he was hit by a car, the vet wanted to put him down but my parents felt it would traumatize us….he had a limp the rest of his life. When I was about 22 he was in poor health and my mom decided it was time to put him down. All I can remember is me telling my boyfriend and I was hysterical. I don’t remember holding him in the vet’s office or anything, but I am told I was there…I have blocked that all out.

Tough subject no matter how old you are…..they are part of the family.

By A&Z Mom

We had to put our dog to sleep last year, she was about 15 years old. We told our children that she was very sick and she died. We decided not to go into details about putting her to sleep since they were only 1 1/2 and 2 1/2, but they did understand she was gone. We told they she went to live with Jesus and St. Francis (the patron St. of animals) and she was happy there and not sick anymore. Even though she is not with us anymore, they can still look up to heaven and yell Hello to her.

Theresa - please tell your Mom we are sorry to hear about her dog, we know how much she loved him.

By momtoAlex&Max

Oh wow, how timely this topic is for me. Tow days before Christmas this year, we were forced to put one of our family dogs down. He was 16 (I had since college; before marriage, before kids, he was MY dog) and had cancer. We really hoped he would make it through the holidays but the poor thing could not walk or eat and he was miserable.

We had a talk with the kids about it (very much the same words that Theresa used) and explained them what would happen. They insisted on coming to the vet too. We were all there when he died. It was sad and we all cried, but I believe it gave my kids closure.

My 8 year old has been sad on and off for the past few days, but my 5 year old appears to have moved on.

It is still sad for me. When we got back from burying him, I found his collar on the table (I had taken it off earlier because he was miserable). It was two days later when I could finally wash and put away his bowl.

I am happy that I still have my beagle and he has helped us a lot to get through this. Oddly enough, the beagle seems to be grieving too.

By Will

Since 2 of my dogs I had as a kid were hit by cars I kind of figured out that pets (or people) don’t last forever. It didn’t prepare me however for a dog I had to put down when I was an adult (she was close to 20 years old). I was amazed at how comforting other pet lovers were and how clueless people were who never had pets. The funny thing is you say to yourself “no more pets” after putting one down. Then another one crosses your path and you take it in. I guess the years of unconditional love outweight the sadness of death.

By motherjanegoose

Theresa….please know how sorry I am for your family and your Mother. I am crying myself as I know how much a pet can mean.

Our dog Yellar had the same thing last December and then our schnauzer Lucy was hit and killed by a neighbor last April. …we lost 2 dogs in less than 5 months. My children were 16 and 21, so they were old enough to know everything.

My daughter and husband stayed in with Yellar to let him know they were there and loved him until the end. My daughter also wants to be a vet…we will see.

Check out this link:

IMHO…children who love and care for their own pets have been given a priceless gift from their families that will stay with them forever.

We had our neighbors over for dinner last night and our Libby LOVES their little boy. She howls her head off when she sees him outside and he is so sweet with her while here. He spent the night last week, and was so excited that he could be with her and cuddle all night. They have always had dogs too but theirs are big dogs and Libby is little.

FYI…if you think yesterday’s discussion was heated….your family is much calmer than ours…LOL.

By bonny

My ex-husband used to bring strays home alot! On a lot of occassions the animal was sick and needed to be put down. The fortunate thing in some cases was that the kids never got attached so the process was painless for them but on occassion a pet would come along that they fell in love with. We had such a dog named Missy, a chihuahua that we got when she was 1 year old, we loved her for many years 16 to be exact when she shows signs of age, like tooth loss, eye sight loss, ill tempered and then the other things started to happen. Renal failure, kidney failure and liver disease. the vet had been medicating her and she had lost her zest for life. My daughters came to us and asked us to let her go, they felt so bad for her. They were 9 and 15. We had a nice ceremony for her. The great thing is that we have two generations of her offspring still with us.


I think it largely depends on the age of the child. I would say from 4 or 5 on, you should kindly be honest with the child about the fact that sometimes animals are so sick and suffer so much that the vet can make that go away, but then the pet is gone too. Depending on your personal beliefs, you may want to tell them about the Rainbow Bridge or doggie/kitty heaven, etc. My parents had to put their dog down a few months ago, and my oldest is only 2, but he mentions the dog on occasion. He hasn’t asked where he is yet, but we haven’t been down there very often. For his age, we’re going to say that the dog felt so bad that he went to a new place where he wouldn’t be sick any more.

By Kathy

This topic is timely for me as well. I had to put my 12 y.o. Lab Winston down in April. A friend asked me just the other day to write about my memories of Winston. I just wrote it this morning and wanted to share it with y’all as well. Here goes:

When I think of my Winston, the first thought is always of his eyes. He had the most beautiful M&M brown eyes that were so expressive. All of my strongest memories of him begin with his eyes.

When Winston and I first met, (Dec. 1995) the first thing I noticed were his eyes. He was cowered in the corner of the plastic pool he and his littermates were corralled in. All the other puppies were rolling around and playing. He looked at me with these eyes that said, “Rescue me from all this craziness!” So I did.

Every morning after that, when I woke up, the first thing I would see were his eyes saying, “Take me out or there will be big problems!” So I would.

In April 1998, a major storm was coming. Winston was terrified of thunder. He would hide under the bed and could not be dragged out. That night (12:40 am to be exact), he came out of his hiding spot, sat down next at me and looked at me with eyes that said, “This is going to be bad….let’s hide together.” So we did. (A tornado threw three trees on my house five minutes later.)

In April of this year, Winston was not doing well. He was 12 1/2 years old and his health had been declining for a couple of months. As I held his head in my hands, I struggled to look into his eyes because I knew what they were going to say. I willed myself to look into those eyes that said, “I’m done…..let me go.” So I did.

On April 4, 2008 I held my sweet boy and looked into those beautiful brown eyes for the last time. I cried as he peacefully drifted out of this life.

There are so many wonderful memories of him that I will always cherish. Some will fade away but what I will never, ever forget are those beautiful eyes.


About 8 years ago, I had to put my beloved 20 year cat down. It just killed me, and I still have a hard time with it. It was THE HARDEST thing I have ever done.

My daughter was about 10 years old. I went to the vet alone, and left her with a neighbor. I just couldn’t be with her when I was wanted to spend his last minutes with him. I cried the entire way home. I still get misty about him, 8 years later. I had him cremated, and still have his ashes. I didn’t want to bury him at the house, as we were in the process of selling. Then when we got to the new home, I just couldn’t bury him in a yard he didn’t know. So I still have his ashes.

Like Will I didn’t want any other animals, as there was no way I could ever go through that again. But, here I am with two dogs, and two more cats, and a turtle. I know I have plenty of time with my furry kids, so I don’t think about putting them down right now. But the time will come…..

But parents need to be honest with kids about death. It’s a fact of life. Just give them enough information for their age and they will be fine.


I remember being 11 years old and having a lovely collie mix dog named Tippy. Tippy came down with distemper (don’t know how, she had all her shots), and it wasn’t diagnosed until it was too late. One day, while I was at school, my dad took her to the vet and she was put to sleep. I have always resented having that decision made for me, and not having a chance to say goodbye. :-( We’ve had to have two cats put to sleep, and oddly enough, I’m the one that ends up holding them, whispering to them and stroking them as they drift away — my husband is crying too much, and my kids just can’t do it.

I had always wondered when people say the animal almost always tells you when it’s time, but it’s so true.

Theresa, please let your mother know that your whole blog community sympathizes with her grief. FWIW, I think you handled it just right with the kids. Give them the information, give them a chance to process it, and then be there to answer questions that may come up later. And here’s another vote for “Dog Heaven” — there’s also one for “Cat Heaven” that’s cute,too.

By Larry M

I think the death of a pet is a great teaching opportunity for our kids. The event, as sad as it is, gives us a chance to discuss the reality of death that they will eventually face when they lose a human being who is close to them, like a grandparent. It is not a time for fantasy like “doggie heaven” IMO. It is a time for reality and explain that life is precious, so cherish it. Be sad, but also realize it is in the best interests of a suffering animal. We put the pet to sleep because we loved him/her.

It also provides an opportunity to teach a selfless act. Keeping a sick, suffering pet around too long is very selfish. I have been guilty of it and I really regret it. A lot of times a pet’s time has come, but we don’t want to let go. So we keep it around in pain, blind, etc., because we fear how much we will miss them.

Lastly, maybe the more we talk to kids about the humane treatment we give our pets when they are sick - euthanasia - will eventually lead to acceptance in this country about the euthanasia of sick human beings. For some reason we see the humanity in doing it for our suffering pets, but few of us seem willing to apply that same basic ethical principle to the human beings that are important in our lives.

By emjay

The loss of a pet is very sad. I think what you told your kids was appropriate, considering their ages.

I remember when I was little, my aunt had a chihuahua named Prissy. I always thought the dog was mean, because she would bark at me and nip at my heels. I guess because I was close to her size she thought I would play with her, but I ended up just being scared of her. Then I guess she thought it was a fun game to corner me in the kitchen and bark because I would scream and try to shoo her away, which just made her jump and bark more.

Anyway, when I was about 4, Prissy got sick and had to be put to sleep. I remember when we went to visit shortly after, and the first thing I noticed was that Prissy was gone. I asked my aunt where she was, because I was certain the dog was just hiding and waiting to pounce on me. She explained to me that Prissy had gotten sick and went to live in doggie heaven. I did not understand that she meant the dog had died and I thought she literally went to live somewhere else. So I asked that very thing - “you mean she went somewhere else and she’s not going to live here anymore?” My aunt looked very sad and said yes. I replied (in my innocent 4-year old way) “Yay! That means she won’t scare me anymore!” My aunt looked shocked for a minute, but the started to laugh. After all, she hadn’t told me the dog died, just that she went to live somewhere else. We had many laughs together through the years about that dog :)

By Jessie's Mama

Thankfully ive never had to put a dog down. December 9th my four year old English buldog took his nap before dinner and never woke up. It was horrible! No waring, I was home alone and freaked out. It’s always tough no matter what the situation. I couldn’t imagine having to put a dog down. I will always miss my Tank boy. I have a two year old Golden/Aussie that I now hope lives a very long life. He has really helped us get through this difficult time. I think we have help him deal with are loss also.

By Wondering Lady

If only suffering people were treated as humanely as animals. My poor dear mother spent 3 years suffering from pain and total paralysis and begged my father daily to have her put to sleep to end her life of pain. He could not do it. The laws forbid it. He cried along with her as her agony continued day after day until she mercifully died. How can we be so caring of our pets and so cruel to dying family? I wonder if this will ever change?

By Wondering Lady

And yes, over the years, I learned when pets were sick, they were better off dying than hurting. We always had funerals for them and they became part of my family’s history. Too, too sad that my dear mother could not be treated as kindly as we treated our cats and dogs, horses and cows, even our fish and turtles. I wonder if there is any good answer for sick and dying people to leave this earth free of pain?

By amy

Wondering Lady- I TOTALLY agree with you. If anyone has ever watched a HUMAN family member slowly suffer and then die, they would know the what pain and helplessness really feels like.


wondering lady—I am not sure it is a good answer but historically (back to Eden even) we have put a higher value on Human life than animal…therefore putting an anmimal down (or hunting, or the process to get the meat in the market) is not seen as murder. Taking of a human life (even in times of human sacrifice) was seen as murder too.

This lesser value of life also extended children for a large portion of human history.

Ah History of Humanity what a mix though art.

By Mad's Mom

I had my little Shih Tzu, Joey for many years. He started having heart problems and did well on medication until he started going downhill quickly. I spent a lot of time with him at the vet and was able to keep him pain free and happy. When he did take a turn downward, I knew I was going to have to make a decision. I took him for his final vet visit and the doctor was wonderful. She told me what she was going to do and what I might expect to happen. She answered all of my questions and then left me alone with Joey. I don’t know how much time I spent telling Joey how much I loved him and how happy he had made me. I hugged him, rubbed him and told him good bye. Then I opened the door to signal the vet. She came in did what she told me she was going to do. She didn’t talk to me, just went about it. I found it was the hardest thing and the easiest thing I have ever done. Once he has given the injection, Joey just looked up at me and relaxed. That was it. It was so peaceful for him. I know it did not cause him pain. The vet left the room and I stayed with him until I felt I could leave. Again, the vet returned, covered Joey up and then she hugged me. I could not have asked for any more support. I have Joey’s ashes and when I go, my husband is tucking them at my feet. I hope when it is my time, I can go as easily as Joey.


Mad’sMom I think we have the same vet. Your story is EXACTLY how it went when I put my cat down.

The best part, was the vet told me not to worry about the cost right then, they would bill me for it. To have to go through that, then be handed a bill would have put me over the roof.


JJ. you got billed for the euthanasia? My vet has never, ever charged for that. I asked about it the first time and she said, simply, that she just couldn’t, it was the last loving thing she could do for them, and she couldn’t put a price tag on it.

By lisa

One Thanksgiving, our pet hotel called with an urgent message that our St. Bernard has a case of “Bloat”. Hannibal was 10 years old, surgery was around $2,000 and he may not make it through. I explained it to the kids (6 & 7 at the time) We were all there together, I was hugging the dog, my son had was holding a paw, my daughter just stayed in the background with my husband.

We have always explained death as a part of life; I never thought they would have to experience a death so soon, but they came out of it ok.

Oh yeah, it helped that we had the dog cremated and we kept the remains. When they wanted to make cupcakes and sing “Happy Birthday” to the dog just as if he was alive, I was ok with it - it was their way of dealing with the loss.


DB YES I did get billed for it. I was SO upset. And the cremation fees on top that!!!

I often wonder if his ashes are really in that “urn” they gave me. Who knows? Could be sawdust for all I know……

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE. Please be safe and let’s not have any horror stories here on Friday or Monday…..

By motherjanegoose

I do not think our vet billed us for the euthanasia but Ole Yellar stayed at the vet for several days prior and that was not cheap.

We had him picked up for cremation ( which we did pay for) and he is in an urn with his picture on it. Generally, these things DO have to be paid for, as the person who is caring for your pet is not working for a charity.

This would be the same with a human…I know people have to pay to have loved ones cremated.

I like the idea of burying him at his owner’s feet posted by Mad’s Mom. We also have our little Lucy in an urn…she was only two and waiting in the front yard for me (to come home from the airport) alongside my daughter when a stray ran down our street and she ran down the grass to chase it…a neighbor plowed right over her.

We are watching our Libby like a hawk and one of our neighbor’s today told us that there is a fox that has been roaming our neighborhood…my husband just built a fence but we will now have to watch her in our back yard! Yikes…at least we do not have to put money in a college fund….LOL!


JJ -I completely understand! I had to have my 18 year old cat put down a week before my first son was born in ‘06. I,too, still get misty over him and have him in a special crematory remains box with his picture on it in my bedroom. He will ALWAYS be really special to me! I still have two dogs and have finally gotten back to wanting a cat again.

I also agree with wondering lady -we do this for our pets but not for grandma! Yes, it would need to be 100% concentual, but euthanasia should have a place in end stage terminal illness. I don’t see how anyone who has watched a loved one linger in pain and suffer can disagree.

By rmbr343

Being the animal lovers that we are, my family has had several cats, the oldest of which was Merlin or “Merl the Pearl” as we liked to call him because he truly was way cool. My daughter called me at work hysterical one day because Merlin couldn’t stand up. He had been showing his age for a while, but since he seemed happy we held on to him. That afternoon, while rushing home, I called my husband to ask him if he agreed with what I felt needed to happen later that day. I felt so badly for him because he just could not get away from work to come be with Merly and say good-bye.

Luckily my daughter was 15 and totally agreed with the decision because she hated to see him suffering. She came with me to the vet, but when it was time she went out into the waiting room and I stayed with my boy and held him. His ashes are in a kitty kat urn in our living room and I too like the idea of having Merlin “go with me” when I’m cremated.

Merlin was 19 years old and had been my daughter’s best friend literally since she was in the womb. Merlin would lay across my belly and just purr and purr. When our daughter was born Merlin could be seen “checking her out”, poking his nose into her infant carrier, only he was too cool to let us know he was curious about this funny little grunting and burping thing. When she cried, Merlin cried. I’d be doing the bouncy walk around our townhouse with a screaming baby in my arms and a wailing cat following me while going in and out of my legs. Many a time I joined in out of frustration and exhaustion! What a sight we must’ve been! Oh, I loved that old cat and miss him so much.

Your Dressed-Up Pet Photos - Part V
The Boston Globe

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