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How Long After the Death of My Dog Should I Wait to Get Another Dog?

The Spruce Pets

By Jenna Stregowski, RVT

Updated 01/03/19

The death of a beloved pet is heartbreaking and the grief does not go away overnight. Many owners struggle with the decision to get a new dog. How long should you wait before getting your next dog? Will you ever be ready to share your life with another dog?

There is no way to say for certain when the time is right to get a new dog. This is a very individual decision that often happens organically. Some people only wait days to weeks, possibly because they cannot bear to go long without a canine companion. Others need several months to years before they are ready to bring a new dog into their lives. Some people even decide they no longer wish to have dogs.

The situation is different for everyone. However, here are some guidelines that might help you make the decision that's right for you.

Grieve for Your Dog

First of all, take the time to experience your grief. It's normal to be sad, angry, or lonely for a while. It's also okay to feel relieved and sad at the same time, especially in cases when your recently deceased dog suffered from a long or serious illness. Avoid trying to immediately fill the void with a new dog when you have not processed your feelings over the loss of your last dog. You might end up projecting negative feelings onto your new dog or having unreasonable expectations. Instead, wait until you feel a sense of peace about your previous dog's death. Yes, you may still be grieving. However, it's best to be at a place where you are processing your grief and it does not dominate your life.

Consider Your Household

Consider other people living in your home. Your spouse, partner, significant other, children, roommates, and other family members should have a voice. Are they ready to welcome a new dog into the home? Are they still grieving? The decision to get a new dog should be one you make as a group. Have household meetings to discuss what is on the minds of everyone in the home. Once you can all agree to get a new dog, you can then discuss details like what kind of dog to get and where to get the new dog. Choosing your new dog should also be a group process.

Consider Your Other Pets

If you have any remaining pets, consider them before you add another dog to your home. Remember, that dogs grieve too (and so do other pets). Your dog (or other pet) may feel sad and lonely without his companion, but that doesn't mean a new dog will help. In some cases, bringing a new dog in the home before your dog is ready can cause quite a disruption. Watch your remaining pets closely for the days to weeks following your previous dog's death. Look for subtle changes in personality, activity level and appetite. Make sure they are not showing any signs of illness. Once you are confident they are back to their normal selves, only then should you consider adding a new dog to your home. Once you get your new dog, be sure to introduce all pets gradually and carefully.

Think About Your Needs

Try to get an idea of what your life is now like without your dog. Are there goals or plans that you put off because of the care your previous dog needed? Maybe now is the time to take that long vacation or sabbatical. Does your home need repairs or renovations? Perhaps it's a good time to revisit previous plans for going back to school, changing jobs, or relocating. It's better to make any lifestyle changes before adding a new dog to your life. Then, if and when the time is right, you can find a dog that is right for your new lifestyle.

Think About Your Responsibilities

Consider the new set of responsibilities that will come with a new dog. It will take time to help your new dog adjust to a new environment. You will likely need to work on some training as well. Your new dog may need more exercise than you are used to, especially if your previous dog was a senior. Because you likely had many years with your previous dog, his care may have become a matter of routine for you. A new dog will have a whole new set of needs, many of which may be unexpected. Therefore, you should make sure you are prepared to make lifestyle adjustments if necessary. It may even be a good idea to approach this as if you were getting a dog for the first time.

Getting Your Next Dog

Once you feel that the time is right, you can begin the process of choosing the right dog. Avoid running out and getting the first dog you meet and like. Before you look for a new dog, determine the age, personality, energy level, and size of your ideal dog. Decide what factors are the most and least important to you. Adopting a dog can be a wonderful idea. Many dogs in rescue groups have been living in foster homes. The foster owners can usually give you a pretty good idea of what to expect from each dog.

Your beloved dog can never be replaced, but a new dog can be a beautiful way to share the love in your heart. Some people find that the heartbreak of losing a dog was too difficult to ever go through again. Sadly, they may choose to no longer have pets. However, most people realize that they want to continue sharing their lives with dogs. By opening your life up to a new dog in need of a home, you are honoring your dog's memory. The human-canine bond is a beautiful thing.

How to Prepare Your Life and Home for a New Pet

Article submitted by Jessica Brody from

Pets improve just about every area of our lives. They make us happy, keep us active, and bring love into each day. Yet, before we dive into pet ownership, we need to think long and hard about which pet is best for our lifestyle. Here are some things to consider.

Why Get One?

Getting a pet is actually healthy for us. Studies indicate that having a furry companion decreases our stress levels, helps control chronic pain, and lowers blood pressure. They improve how we feel emotionally and physically, which is why animals are so frequently used in tandem with therapy. Pets can even be a means for us to socialize. Overall, if you're on the fence about becoming a first time pet owner, think of your health and go for it.

Picking a Pet

That doesn't mean you should get any pet you want, however. You need to think about the animal's well-being, as well as your own (if you have allergies, for example, you should take these into consideration). Contrary to popular belief, dogs don't necessarily need big homes and yards to be happy. A large breed dog can be content in an apartment if you give them the exercise they require, though it’s important to keep the size of your home and pooch in mind when making a decision. Regarding exercise, you should aim for at least 30 minutes to an hour every day. If you don't have the time to commit or a nearby park, it's better to get a pet that requires less maintenance. Should you still want something cuddly and furry, consider a cat or rabbit. Both are affectionate animals but need less time outside of the house to remain healthy.

Prepping Your House

Before you bring your new friend home, you need to create a safe environment and have all the supplies you need. Different animals, such as dogs and cats, require different things, but there are some similarities between them. You want to be sure that your pet can't injure themselves on a low-hanging cord, wiring, or toxic plant. It's also wise to have identification sorted before you bring them home, such as ID tags or microchips (most people spend around $45 to microchip their pet). Have food, a bed or crate, and lots of toys ready for playtime. A cat will need a litter box or two, as well as something to climb on to keep them active when you're away. Dogs require a good collar and leash, as well as potty-training materials.

Having cleaning supplies on hand is wise as accidents happen at any age. Add a vacuum to your arsenal to ease allergies and keep your home free from fur and dander (you can purchase a quality model for $79.98). You may also want to schedule regular cleanings and use a maid service. In North Canton, this will likely cost you between $106 and $160. The more ready you are for your friend, the easier it will be for them to transition to their new home.

Helping Your Pet Adjust

As excited as you may be, pets might be hesitant in a new environment, especially if they are rescues. They may be scared at first due to trauma involving humans in the past; as such, you'll need extra patience and lots of love. A whole house may be overwhelming, so quarter them off to one or two rooms at first. Give them access to food at regular intervals, which lets them know they'll always be fed. Put the food near a crate or somewhere they can retreat to when they need to be alone. Reward them often, and reassure them with affection as much as possible.

Bonding Together

Animals may not instantly trust you, and some may take time to warm up and feel at ease. Thankfully, there are a few tricks to helping your pet bond with you. Give your companion plenty of space, particularly when they first arrive, and allow them to come to you. Get them acclimated to your scent by letting them sleep in your bedroom, and take every opportunity to give them treats. As they gain comfort, pet and play with them frequently; you'll win them over in no time.

If you've properly prepared for a pet, you will make both of your lives easier. Let your new friend relax, have what you need on hand, and give your companion ample attention. This is the journey of a lifetime and one you are bound to enjoy.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Surviving the Hollow Days After a Pet Has Died

by Kitty Walker, LMSW-ACP

Several years ago my canine soul mate, Kito, escaped peacefully from his prison of congestive heart failure. It was late September, the same time of year I had brought him home as a tiny Sheltie furball 10 years earlier. I was devastated. I had no idea I could hurt so deeply and still be alive. That winter was a blur of bereavement. Just as I thought I was starting to feel better, the season of holidays arrived with its usual tempo of frenetic activity and enforced merriment. I was clearly out of step and decidedly depressed.

Normally I was right in the middle of things, shopping, baking, spending time with friends .... always with Kito by my side. An enthusiastic tree trimmer, carol singer, turkey taster, and gift un-wrapper, he adored this time of year and all of its rituals. Without him I felt empty inside, wishing only to be transported to a place in time beyond the "hollow days" of that first season without him.

There is no time of year when it's easy to mourn a beloved pet. But as is the case with all kinds of losses, the winter holiday season can be especially brutal to those in bereavement.

A traditionally family time, it reminds us of whom--and what--we are missing. Our pets, who became treasured members of our families, have left behind a silent void. At a time when we're flooded with well-meaning encouragement to Feel Good, to have a Merry Christmas or a Happy Hanukkah, a Thankful Thanksgiving, and a Prosperous New Year, the contrast felt by those of us grieving a pet can sometimes be overwhelming.

10 Helpful Tips

The following recommendations are meant as guides to surviving pet loss through the holidays, keeping in mind that every pet owner's grief process is individual.

1. Acknowledge that you are grieving and that you might have some emotional difficulty during the holiday season. This sounds obvious, but cannot be overlooked. It usually doesn't work to pretend to be happy for days on end while a significant grieving period is going on.

2. Let yourself grieve. You might be surrounded by people trying to get you to feel anything else, especially those who have not gone through a loss of this kind. It is important to your emotional health to be true to your feelings as they arise. Don't worry about crying in front of is not a time to please everyone else at the expense of yourself.

3. Share your feelings with someone you trust. It is a phenomenal burden to go through the grief process alone or to seek support from someone who does not comprehend the pain of pet loss. If there is no one to turn to in your immediate family or circle of friends, consider consulting with a pet loss counselor or support group, in your community or on-line.

4. Cherish your memories. Retelling the story of her yellow lab stealing and devouring a fully stuffed turkey on the day of her mother's funeral helped a friend of mine get through her first Thanksgiving without him. Do not be afraid to remember happier times with your pet...this can be a source of comfort during a time of longing and sadness. Likewise, displaying a picture of your pet taken during a past holiday might bring a sense of solace, as well as a source of positive memories.

5. Do something symbolic. A gift to an animal shelter or other organization in honor of your pet is a tangible way to show respect. Other rituals people have shared with me include lighting a special candle, hanging a stocking or an ornament with the pet's name on it, and writing a special poem or story to post on an internet site designed for that purpose (like "Virtual Pet Cemetary").

6. Give yourself the gift of caring. The basics of self-care--sleep, nutrition, exercise--are critical to the emotional well-being and physical survival. Grieving requires extra energy, and holidays can be emotionally and physically draining. Surviving the combination requires some extra self-nurturing.

7. Help someone else. This is a great opportunity to volunteer your time and energy to those in need. My community shelter has a pet food drive this time each year, with lots of options for volunteering. Non-animal-related options include feeding holiday meals to the homeless and other disadvantaged populations. Volunteering helps to maintain a balance of attention to yourself and your own needs with attending to some needs of others. Many find such service work rewarding and distracting.

8. Rely on your spiritual belief system. If you have a belief in a higher power, an afterlife, a divine order in nature, or other beliefs regarding life and death, it's a good time to reconnect with those beliefs and/or explore new ones.

9. Resist the temptation to get a new pet prematurely to fill the void left by the previous one. The holidays might be a very tempting time to do just that, but remember that a special relationship--whether human/human or human/animal--can never be duplicated. It's unfair to yourself, as well as the animal, and can backfire in ways you might never predict. When is it time to get a new pet? Experts disagree on a specific period of mourning (from 3 months to over a year), but do agree that the person(s) should be emotionally ready to explore a totally new relationship.

10. Remember that the holidays are temporary. The first holiday season after a pet dies is usually the most difficult. After that, you will have a sense of who and what helped you get through it. Affirm your survival a day at a time.

My best to all who are carrying pain through this season.

How to Prepare Your Kid for the Death of a Pet

Preparing for the loss of a dog, cat, or fish requires an honest conversation about the inevitable

By Patrick A. Coleman

Published August 24, 2017

When a pet nears the end of their life, death sneaks into the family home on soft paws. Children get glimpses of mortality as parents struggle to explain why the inevitable is so inevitable. Dogs end up going to a farm upstate when panicked parents, probably in mourning, decide not to have a difficult conversation. But glossing over the truth of a pet mortality does children a disservice. It’s better to prepare them. It’s better that they know.

Telling a kid apropos of nothing that Fluffy is going to kick the bucket doesn’t help anyone, which is why therapist Brenda Brown, founder of Grief About Pets, suggests that parents look for teachable moments. After all, she explains, we live in an environment where things die all the time—like bugs, critters, and plants. “It starts with nature,” she explains. “They’re already seeing death everywhere.” She suggests calling attention to all that death rather than ignoring it. She says that nature documentaries can be a great tool for this because they often feature predator/prey relationships. They’re disturbing but natural. Kids can see that.

“We realize every child’s cognitive abilities are different so you’ll know when they’re ready, but typically they’ll be able to understand death at age three,” explains Brown. “Just begin with, ‘Oh, no. It looks like that animal died. What do you think happened?’”

Questions are key because parents aren’t going to be able to effectively guess what kids think about death. The idea is so clear in adult minds that they can’t imagine how fuzzy it is to kids. Brown notes that when questions go the other way, honesty and openness is always the best policy. So is simplicity. There’s no need to overdo explanations with unnecessary details about biological processes. Still, it’s important to stress the permanence of death and that it’s not like other experiences. It is final.

“Make sure you never use the phrase ‘going to sleep,’” says Brown. “We’ve learned that will cause kids to be terrified of going to bed at night.”

These conversations help kids orient themselves to mortality be it pet or human, but not necessarily to the specific instance of their pet passing away. That issue becomes a bit more pressing when a family pet is ailing or simply old and reaching the end of their life. That’s when kids and adults might start experiencing what’s known as anticipatory grief.

Kids who have cared for the pet or spent a great deal of time with the pet will have a deeper experience of grief. But parents shouldn’t expect children to grieve the same way that adults do. In fact, children generally just have four stages of grief that they can verbalize: sadness, anger, and fear, even against a baseline of happiness.

Brown suggests that parents explore those grief emotions prior to a pet’s death. A parent can simply ask their kid what they think they will feel upon a pet’s death while sharing times when they have felt anger, fear or sadness around death. It’s a conversation that normalizes the grief and allows parents to model appropriate responses to the emotions.

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Patrick A. Coleman writes for Fatherly.