Children's Books About Pet Loss: Helping Kids Through Grief


The loss of a beloved pet can be a difficult time for the whole family. It can be a particularly confusing time for the youngest members of the family - particularly if this is one of their first experiences of loss

It can be daunting to broach the concept of death with your little ones, however, it’s an important part of the journey to provide an open and supportive environment for children to process the news, express their emotions and understand what has happened. 

We know that it can be hard to put into words a loss such as the passing of a pet - from how to share the news, to discussing how it may change the daily routine of the family. Books can be an invaluable tool to broach these conversations in ways that are sensitive, compassionate and age appropriate. 

From understanding what it means to have a pet pass away, to encouraging ways that keep the treasured memories alive, here are some children’s books to consider when supporting kids as they deal with the loss of their furry friend:

Saying Goodbye to Lulu by Corinne Demas

Watching a pet grow older or sicker can be a confusing time for children, particularly if they are wondering why the pet is not behaving in a way that they are used to. This book follows the story of a young girl who is understanding and preparing for the loss of her dog Lulu, as she becomes a senior pet. From playing games together to exploring the neighbourhood, the girl begins to notice changes as Lulu becomes older and frailer. This book explores the range of mixed emotions that can come with preparing for the loss of a pet and emphasises the importance of making space for different responses to grief - in whatever shape or form they may come.

The Hare Shaped Hole by John Dougherty

This is a story about two animal best friends, a turtle and a hare, who are separated by death, leaving behind a ‘hare-shaped hole’. The turtle struggles to understand death but is encouraged to fill the hole left by the hare with happy memories. This book is a great exploration of how treasuring positive memories is a way to understand and live with big feelings of grief - rather than ignore them. Stories such as this can go a long way to foster an environment where natural feelings of loss are welcomed and supported. 

The Tenth Good Thing About Barney by Judith Viorst

In the spirit of encouraging reminiscing on the ‘good times’ to help in processing loss, this book follows the story of a young boy who is dealing with the death of his dead cat Barney, after burying him in the backyard. After being encouraged to think of ten good things about Barney by his mother, he is upset that he can only think of nine things.  In speaking with his dad, he is able to think of his tenth good thing about Barney and in doing so, begins to better understand the cycle of life. 

Goodbye MOG by Judith Kerr

You may be familiar with Mog the Forgetful Cat from your own childhood. This is a tribute to a character who has been beloved by children the world over for over 50 years, as the Thomas family farewells Mog. This book speaks to the idea of a little piece of a loved one staying around and watching over once they pass. This book gently broaches the concepts of loss, while also touching on how you can welcome a new pet into the family, while treasuring those that will always be a part of your family - even though they are no longer with us. 

The Invisible Leash by Patrice Karst

This moving story explores the idea of the spiritual connection pet owners have with their animals, and is a way to comfort your little ones who are missing the physical presence of their furry friend. In this book, a sceptical Zach is told by his friend that there is an Invisible Leash around our hearts that connects everyone to their pets no matter where they are, on this Earth or somewhere beyond. With the support of his friend, Zach comes to terms, in his own way, with the comforting feeling of the Invisible Leash.

If you've had experiences with any resources that have helped your family deal with the loss of a family pet, please share them with us by reaching out on Facebook or Instagram - we'd love to add them to this list!