Bringing Home a New Pet After a Loss: A Bittersweet Transition

Our furry friends make daily life more enjoyable with their unconditional love and constant presence in our homes. When they pass, we lose a beloved member of our family. It can be challenging to know when the time is right to adopt a new pet. It is important to experience your grief first, as well as prepare for the transition to another pet in your home. With the adoption of a new pet, it’s also important to consider the bonding process, which can be complex when we are still missing the pet who died.

Honoring Your Pet and Grieving

As with any loss, the death of a pet brings grief. Allow your feelings to emerge organically. Sometimes in the desire to feel better, we avoid our feelings, which stifles the healing process. Instead, sit with the grief and find ways to honor your pet. You can create a collage of pictures, talk with friends about your loss, or donate supplies to an area shelter — there are many ways to facilitate healing.

As you express your feelings verbally or through creative outlets such as journaling or art, think about your pet’s life story. Envision the way your furry friend came into your life and think about happy memories. There is no specific time frame for grief, but over time, you will experience a sense of healing. Before you adopt a new pet, American Humane suggests considering pet care responsibilities to ensure you are ready. When you feel peace about your loss, the time may be right to adopt.

Preparing Your Home for a New Pet

If you have had a pet similar to the one you are considering, such as a kitty, you may have an understanding of the types of cat supplies you need for your new friend to arrive. Adopting a different type of pet will require some research into supplies and what to expect. Checklists of recommended dog supplies can help you get started for a pup, as well as recommendations from your vet’s office.

Try to create a peaceful environment as you introduce your new friend to your home. Transitioning to a new home is stressful for animals, and a calm environment can help keep all family members safe. Your home can function like usual — just try to avoid startling your new pet, and provide access to privacy if your pet wishes to be alone for a while to adjust. Make a point to also address any remaining smells of your previous pet. Scents from other animals can contribute to your new pet’s discomfort, so have your carpets cleaned, and consider even having your furniture cleaned by professionals. A search for “couch cleaning near me” will help point you toward local experts who can quickly clean your furniture, and with nontoxic cleaners.

Now is also a great time to install a pet door, especially if you want to train your new pup to go outside as needed when you can’t be home. US Pet Door has several preferred models, and they can also connect you with professional installation.

Bonding with Your New Pet

The bond you create with a pet is precious, and even though you still miss your pet who passed, it doesn’t negate the bond you are developing. Take lots of pictures and spend time snuggling with your new pet. Establish routines such as consistent feeding and playtimes to let them know you can be trusted to provide care and nurturing.

If your pet is reluctant, get on the floor and let them investigate you by sniffing and being near you. Getting on their level shows vulnerability, and for some adopted pets, that is an important factor in gaining their trust. Soon, you’ll find your new pet happily snuggling with you in your favorite chair, or even hogging your bed at night.

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