11/24/2020 | By Seniors Guide Staff

Many individuals and families will lose a beloved pet several times over a lifetime, and the pain of those losses never gets easier. Some are so overcome with grief that they vow never to own one again to avoid the intense sorrow.

As it turns out, the pledges are typically forgotten as time passes and another pet joins the family. This brings up an interesting question: How long after your pet dies should you consider getting another one?

Since everyone handles grief differently, there is no single correct answer. For some, bringing a new pet into their home before they are finished grieving for the last one might cause both the owner and the pet issues. On the other hand, a new pet could help the grieving process by assuaging the loneliness brought about by a pet’s passing.

Here are a few things to consider if you are contemplating when to get a pet after one dies.

Adopting After Losing a Pet

Of course, this is a personal decision. Only you will know when the time is right. Keep in mind that you need to take some time to grieve, but no matter when you decide to welcome a new pet into your home, it will never erase the memory of the departed pet. Many people open their homes to a new pet as soon as possible, wanting to fill the void created by the loss.

But others might feel resentful toward a pet they brought in too soon. Most experts agree that the time to get a new pet is after you have worked through your grief adequately to be able to look forward to a new pet instead of back at the recently departed one. That process could take a week or two – or many months.

No matter when you decide it is time for a new pet, the following suggestions can aid you in the transition and make the new relationship more satisfying for everyone involved—including the new pet.

Don’t make a quick decision

When considering when to get a pet after one dies, give yourself plenty of time to think. Don’t let well-meaning friends or relatives rush you into a decision or pressure you into making an unwise choice. Make your decision based on what is best for both you and the new pet.

Make sure everyone in the family is involved in the decision

Since children tend to make strong bonds with pets, consider the kids’ needs and feelings during the decision-making process. They might still have attachments to the previous pet and have not yet worked through their grief. Involve everyone in the discussions of what kind of pet will be next, and allow your children to help select it.

Remember, your new pet is not a “replacement” for the one that passed

You can’t replace a relationship, but you can build a new one. You will create new memories and experiences with your new pet, so it’s best to find a somewhat different pet from the last one – perhaps a different breed or sex. If you choose a pet that looks like the previous one, you could be disappointed when it doesn’t act like that pet.

Ensure that the size, behavior, and needs of the new pet are suitable for your lifestyle. Don’t adopt the first animal you see and avoid the temptation to give it the same name as the departed pet.

Understand that the new pet will not be just like the one you lost

Your new pet cannot be just like the last one, so don’t expect that from it. Your new pet will respond differently and have unique characteristics, so enjoy them as they develop. Try not to compare your new pet to your previous one. Remember that your former pet was once a kitten or puppy that was not house-trained, and it was also destructive and disobedient before it outgrew that stage.

Consider the needs of any surviving pets

When trying to decide when to get a pet after one dies, remember your other pets!

Some pets mourn the loss of a companion, and you will find that you need to introduce a new pet to comfort them. Remember, however, that cats and dogs can be territorial, and it might take time for them to adapt to the new arrival. It’s always a good idea to shower your current pets with lots of love and attention after introducing a new pet into the household.

If you aren’t sure that you’re ready for a new pet, consider volunteering at a local shelter. You could help socialize adoptable animals, and you can give love and receive comfort without committing. You might even find your next furry companion in the process!

And hey – when you are ready to begin the search process, here are some great pets for seniors!

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff