Family at animal shelter adopting a new pet

Adopting a New Pet: How Long Should You Wait?

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If your pet has recently passed away, you may be contemplating getting a new one. But, how do you know when the time is right? There is no good answer to this question because everyone is different, and you need to consider what’s best for you. People cope with losing a pet in different ways, such as:

  • The lonely feeling of an empty house (especially if you live alone) can be overwhelming, and a new pet acquired as soon as possible can make things seem more normal again.

  • A new pet obtained too soon may trigger resentment against the animal. In this situation, grief needs to be worked through so that a new relationship can be happily established. This might take weeks, months, or even years.

Easing the Transition to a New Furry Friend

Regardless of when you feel it’s time for a new pet, the following six suggestions may be helpful.  

  1. Don’t rush into a decision or let anyone pressure you into a choice that isn’t right for you. Avoid being tempted to adopt the first animal you see to “fill the void.” If it isn’t right for you, it also won’t be right for the new pet.

  2. A new pet is not about replacing a relationship; it’s about building a new one. Your new animal friend will be a different companion with whom you’ll experience an entirely new set of experiences and memories.

  3. Avoid bringing home a “lookalike.” If your new pet looks much like your previous one, it will be easy to feel disappointed when they act differently. Unless you are the kind of person who must have a specific breed, look for a different breed or one with different colorings.

  4. If you do go for a completely different breed, sex, size, or behavior traits, make sure the needs of your new pet mesh with your lifestyle. As an extreme example, it’s probably not wise to go from a dachshund to a Great Dane!

  5. Involve every family member, particularly your kids. Children naturally build strong attachments to pets and may feel disloyal at the thought of bestowing their love on a new animal. Give everyone the chance to work through their individual grieving processes before getting a new four-legged family member.

  6. Don’t overlook the needs of your surviving pets. Will they resent or welcome a newcomer? Remember that most dogs and cats are naturally territorial, and adjusting to a new pet will take time. When introducing a new animal, make sure to give your established pets lots of attention. 

Your New Pet: Additional Considerations

  • If your pet died of a contagious illness, thoroughly clean and disinfect your home before your new pet is brought in, and dispose of all items that they used. If your deceased pet was not contagious, you might want to dispose of their possessions anyway and begin a new relationship without too many reminders of the first.

  • If you’re not ready for a new one but have a pressing need to cuddle a warm and furry creature, consider volunteering as a “pet cuddler” or a foster parent to help socialize adoptable animals. This way, you can give and receive love without making a commitment. And, you may discover the perfect new companion to share your life with!

Memorialize Your Old Friend

Midlands Pet Care has a range of memorial products to help you remember your old companion. And, if you live in our area (Lexington, SC), we can assist you with your deceased pet in a caring and compassionate way.

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