For many of us, a pet is not “just a dog” or “just a cat”, but is rather a beloved member of our family who brings joy, love and companionship to our lives. A pet can also add structure to your day and give you a reason to get out of the house to keep you active and social. So when a cherished pet dies, it’s completely normal to feel racked with grief.
The pain of loss can often feel overwhelming and trigger all sorts of painful and difficult emotions. While some people may not understand the depth of feeling you had for your pet, you should never feel ashamed or embarrassed for grieving for your animal friend.
While we all respond differently to the loss of a pet, the level of grief you suffer can depend on your age, personality, the age of your pet and the circumstances surrounding their death.
Experiencing the loss of a pet is inevitable part of being an owner, there are healthy ways to come to terms with your grief and when the time is right, open your heart to another animal companion.
Give Yourself Time
It’s very important that you give yourself time to grieve. There is no set amount of time to give yourself to grieve the loss of a pet, you should just go at your own pace. It can be extremely tempting to get yourself another pet soon after losing one, the craving for companionship will be strong when you are going through grief. Some people think that getting another pet soon will help you fill a void or take your mind off the loss of your previous pet, but if you’re not fully ready for a new pet it can be tough on not only you but your new pet too.
Pay Attention to Your Feelings
Losing a pet can carry a mix of different emotions such as grief, anger, depression and confusion. After the loss of a pet, pay close attention to how you are feeling. Your ability to deal with these emotions will have a profound impact on your readiness to get another pet.
Ask Yourself If You Are Ready For A New Pet
The grieving process is different for each individual. For some people, it may only take a matter of a few short months to grieve the loss of a pet. However for others, it may be years before you can even consider getting another pet. When you are ready to consider to get another pet after loss, ask yourself if you are ready to make the commitment to another pet. The following questions can help you make your decision: - Do I have time for another pet? Can I devote the time to training and socializing it? - Am I happy without a pet? Are there things I’ve been putting off while caring for my old pet? - Ask yourself why you want another pet – what purpose will a new pet have in your life? If you think that getting a new pet just to fill a void or ease the pain of losing your old pet, you should wait.
What Type of Pet Shall I Get?
It’s important to understand that your new pet shouldn’t be a replacement. One of the toughest things for people to understand after losing a pet is that your new pet is not, and should not be looked at as a replacement for your old dog. Nothing will ever replace your old pet. Your new pet will have a completely different personality and quirks, and you will need to build a whole new relationship with it.
It can sometimes help if you get a different breed or sex when selecting a new pet. This can help you to not make the comparison between your old pet and your new pet.
Picking Out a New Pet
Look at animal shelters and rescue centers, they often have tons of great pets available for adoption. As long as you know what you’re looking for in your new pet, you will probably be able to find a suitable one at an animal shelter. They also have many different breeds available, so if you aren’t set on a particular breed, this can be a good way to get acquainted with several different ones before deciding. - Staff at animal rescue centers are often familiar with many different animals so they can help find which is the best fit for you. - Don’t get discouraged if you don’t find your new companion straight away. You may have to look at a lot of different centers and a lot of different pets to find the right fit for you.
If you know what type of breed you want, contacting a local breeder may be a good option as well. As long as the breeder is professional and responsible, you can likely find a puppy or kitten that is healthy and well cared for from a breeder.
Keep in mind that this will be a much more expensive option than adopting from a rescue center. On average, puppies and kittens obtained from a breeder can cost anywhere from a couple of hundred pounds to several thousand pounds.
Always ask to look around your breeder’s premises before buying from them. You want to make sure your puppy or kitten is well cared for and raised under good conditions before buying. It may also be a good idea to ask to see the mother and father.
Welcoming a New Pet into Your Home
Great, so you’ve come to terms with your grief and decided to get another pet. It’s time to bring your new pet home to a completely new environment with new smells and places to explore. So, whether it’s been a few years or a couple of months since you last had a pet, there are a few things you need to take care of around your house before you bring your new pet home. - Ensure electrical cords are inaccessible - Block off any areas of the house that you do not want your new pet to access. If you can’t do this by shutting a door, you can use babygates to keep your pet out of certain areas. - Move chewable objects out of your pets reach - Keep shoes and other “chewables” hidden away in cupboards or up on shelves away from your pet - Remove or cut down any house plants you have that may be toxic to your new pet if they try to eat it - If you have a garden, ensure that fences are secure and there are no holes where your new pet can escape through.
Create a Schedule
If this is a family pet, it’s important to figure out who will take care of which responsibilities before bringing your new pet home. Create a schedule that shows the tasks that each person is responsible for and make sure this schedule is displayed somewhere everyone in the family can see it on a daily basis.
Make a “Home” for Your Pet
Just like us humans, pets need a place they can have to themselves. This can be anything from a crate to a pet bed or even a mat with a pile of blankets. As long as it’s a comfortable place that your pet can go to for privacy and relax. While this place doesn’t need to be shut off from the rest of the house, family members need to understand that your pet should be left alone when it’s in this place.
Find a Vet
Whether you are using the same vet you had for your old pet or are looking for a new vet, take your pet for a check-up shortly after bringing it home. This will allow you to establish a relationship with your vet and make sure your new pet doesn’t have any health problems from the breeder or rescue center. Don’t wait until there is an emergency to find a vet, finding both a vet you and your pet like early on will help to cut down on stress in the event of an emergency and encourage you to take your pet on regular visits, allowing you to catch any health problems early.