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When To Adopt a New Pet After the Previous One Passed Away

It is difficult to know exactly when to adopt a new pet after the previous one passes away. Animals bring so much life and joy into our homes. Their companionship and their personalities help make them central members of our families. Once they join us, it’s difficult to imagine life without them. This is why it can be so difficult when the family pet passes away. It’s also why some of us make the mistake of rushing into adopting a new pet afterward. We’re trying to fill the immense void they’ve left behind.

It is difficult to know exactly when to adopt a new pet after the previous one passes away. After all, every family is different, and there’s no time frame that will work best for everybody. However, there are a few elements to consider that can help you make the most appropriate decision based on your situation.

When To Adopt a New Pet?

It should probably go without saying that you don’t want to jump headfirst into adopting a pet immediately after your last one has passed away. From a practical perspective, much of your time is likely on more pressing matters — closing down pet insurance, settling your account with your vet. If you’re planning a memorial, your attention is probably going to be split between asking questions such as “how can I find out where to buy an urn for my pet?” or “where is the most appropriate place to scatter the ashes?”. Introducing a new pet into your family requires and deserves your utmost attention and patience. Your new furry companion won’t have this attention if your mind is occupied elsewhere.

The days, weeks, and even months following the death of your pet are a time of grieving. Getting a new pet during this dark and upsetting period can be tempting, After all, you’re likely to crave that companionship. However, you shouldn’t feel as though you need to rush into making a decision on when to adopt a new pet — give yourself time to find the right new addition.

Hand petting a shelter dog wearing an orange bow.

WHY SHOULD YOU WAIT?

You might not be entirely clear on why it’s not healthy for you, your family, or your potential adoptee. Essentially it comes down to the following factors:

The Effect on Bonding. The first weeks with a newly adopted pet are a vital stage of the bonding process. Unfortunately, the early stages of the grieving process for your previous pet is likely to interfere with this. When we are sad, depressed, and angry, we tend to communicate this to all those around us subconsciously through our behavior — this includes our pets. You don’t want your bond with your new pet to be colored by the still fresh emotions of loss.

 Family Considerations. Everybody grieves at a different rate, and each of your family members must be allowed as much time as they need to move through their feelings of loss. You might think you are personally ready to adopt a pet, but your family may not be there yet. If you don’t wait until the rest of your family is ready, you run the risk of derailing their healing process. This can stoke resentment, and even give the impression that you’re prematurely “replacing” your last pet.

 

KNOWING WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT

The sad truth is that there’s no strict time frame to invite a new pet into your life after your last one has passed away. Be honest with yourself and seek to understand whether you have mental and emotional space to give to a new adoptee. Keep an open dialogue with your family, too. Have frank conversations with each other on how you each feel about when to adopt a new pet.

It can be a difficult decision to wait, particularly as we’re all aware of how much pressure shelters are under. However, you can certainly help out by directly donating or nominating a shelter for us to donate to. Volunteering your time can also be a great stepping stone toward adopting your own new furry family member. Think of it as testing the waters, while also doing some good.

CONCLUSION

Losing a pet is hard on all of us. Then having to make decisions such as dog cremation or burial bring extra stress. In order to cope, you might consider adopting a new pet right away. However, it's crucial not to rush into adopting a new member of your family. Take time to grieve, and keep communicating with your family. When you feel the time is right, you’ll find that both you and your new pet will have a much more positive experience.

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