When are you ready for a new pet after one passes away?

The death of a beloved cat or dog is always heartbreaking. They’ve been part of your life for years, acting as a loving presence and loyal companion. When is the time right to let them go and create new memories with a different pet? There’s no easy answer to this personal question. Hopefully, the advice below will help you know when it feels right for you.

Take the time to mourn your loss.

There are no shortcuts to grieving. Feeling angry, sad or lonely for weeks or even months is normal. Take as much time as you need until you feel at peace with your pet’s passing. Once you’re looking forward to welcoming a new companion into your life—rather than looking back on the friend you lost—you’ll be in a more positive state of mind.

Make the most of your current lifestyle.

Were any personal projects put off because of your responsibility toward your pet? Maybe you’ve always wanted to go on a one-month trip abroad but didn’t feel comfortable leaving your dog at a kennel for so long. Take this opportunity to live such experiences before committing to a new pet.

Involve all family members in the pet adoption process.

If you live with a spouse, children or roommates, are they still grieving? Young ones may be experiencing death for the first time and not know how to process these unfamiliar feelings. Let everyone grieve at their own pace.

Other pets may also feel sad at the loss of their companion—contact your veterinary clinic for advice if you notice any change in appetite, energy level or behaviour. Wait until everyone is ready and your resident pets are back to their usual selves before you consider adopting a new one.

Have group discussions on what your next ideal pet should be , based on everyone’s wishes, needs and lifestyle. Being part of the process will make the transition easier.

Start fresh with a new pet.

Avoid trying to “replace” your previous pet. Getting a new cat or dog with a familiar appearance could distract you from fully embracing their unique personality and creating new memories. Avoid comparing your new companion to your previous one; instead, welcome them for who they are.

Choosing a different sex or breed is an excellent way to start fresh. Consider replacing bedding, toys and food bowls with new ones—this also prevents your previous pet’s scent from lingering. Finally, take this opportunity to change your usual routes when taking your dog on their daily walk.

Consider volunteering at a local shelter.

If you’re unsure whether you’re ready or not to get a new pet, consider spending time at an animal shelter nearby or even fostering a pet. This will allow you to be around animals in need without making a long-lasting commitment. You could even end up meeting your next companion in the process.