If your dog died suddenly, you may still feel shocked and confused. Here’s how to know if it’s too soon to think about getting another dog.
A reader recently shared that her dog suddenly died, and she’s struggling to decide if it’s too soon to adopt another dog.
“I lost my 9 month old boxer puppy suddenly to a seizure, and I’ve been feeling really guilty about it,” said Ashley. “There was nothing I could do about it. My dog died in my arms this morning and I cant stop thinking about him. I really want another dog but I’m feeling really guilty about getting another dog as I loved my boxer with all my heart. I feel very guilty about loving another dog that isn’t him. At the same time I want a dog really badly after the wonderful times I’ve had with my boxer. Do you think I should get another dog?”
There’s no right or wrong answer to this question, but here are a few things to consider…
Should You Get a Dog After Your Dog Died?
You don’t have to be 100% healed before you adopt another dog, but you should give yourself time to mourn your loss. Your dog’s sudden death is a traumatic, sad, and even life-changing event. It’s important to work through the early phases of mourning before you start a new relationship with another animal.
Remember that different people heal from their dog’s death in different ways. Some people may need days or weeks to mourn, while others may think forever is “too soon” to get a dog.
If you know someone who lost a dog, read Sympathy Gifts for Dog Lovers After Their Dog Died.
Remember that you’re not betraying your dog who died
Timing is everything when considering whether to get a new pet,” writes Wallace Sife in The Loss of a Pet.
“You must be ready for the new relationship, or both you and the new pet may suffer because of your underlying resentment. We could be hesitant or even fearful because it feels like betrayal to the deceased pet, even though it isn’t.”
Getting another dog isn’t betraying the dog you loved, so there’s no need to feel guilty. Guilt is for when you do something wrong, and you didn’t do anything wrong when your dog was alive! You took excellent care of him. Now that he’s gone, you yearn for another dog because dogs are a wonderful source of unconditional love and fun. T
here’s nothing wrong with getting another dog soon after your dog died suddenly – and there’s nothing wrong with waiting for a few months to pass.
If you can’t get rid of guilt because of your dog’s sudden death, you may find How to Cope With Guilt After Your Pet Dies helpful.
Figure out if the timing is right for you – not other people
How do you know if you should get another dog? By making sure the timing is right for you. Don’t let other people talk you into or out of getting another dog, or say it’s too soon to get one. You may not be 100% sure of your own readiness to get another dog after your dog suddenly died, but you can do certain things that will help you know if you’re ready. One of the main things are your own gut feelings. Another is to walk other people’s dogs.
Walk other dogs – a good test to see if it’s too soon to get another dog
Do your friends, family members, coworkers, or neighbors have dogs? Ask if you can take the dog for a walk. How do you feel when you’re walking the dog? If you can’t stop crying or have extreme feelings of depression, guilt, anger, or resentment, then maybe it’s too soon to get another dog. But if you feel okay – maybe not 100% happy because you’re probably reminded of your dog who died – then you might be ready for the next step…
Visit an animal shelter or dog rescue
Don’t commit to adopting a dog yet – you’re just looking around. Do not allow yourself to be tempted to go home with a dog. This first visit to an animal shelter is about testing the waters and tuning in to how you feel. You’re still coping with your dog’s death — and if you make a hasty, impulsive decision to get another dog, you may regret it. The first visit to a shelter may be too soon to get another dog.
If you’re devastated about your dog’s death, read What to Do When Your Dog Dies.
Write down your feelings after you visit the dog shelter
“Write your feelings down, and read them again at another time,” says Sife in The Loss of a Pet. “Share them with a trusted friend. What new feelings are you beginning to have now or after the visit? Did you retain a strong memory of any of the animals you saw?” Feeling drawn to other dogs isn’t a betrayal of your dog who died – it’s a sense of compassion and kinship with a homeless, lovable animal.
If you feel indecisive about getting another dog, or if you think it’s too soon to get another dog, don’t do it yet. Wait until you feel mostly positive and peaceful about adopting another dog.
Are you struggling to cope with the death of your pet? Read How to Heal Your Heart After Losing a Pet: 75 Ways to Cope With Grief and Guilt When Your Dog or Cat Dies. It’s an ebook I wrote to help people grieve and heal.
I’ve grieved the loss of two dogs and four cats. I didn’t know how to deal with the pain, so I read a dozen books on dealing with pet loss. The books I read weren’t as helpful as I hoped, so I interviewed several grief experts, veterinarians, and pet owners about losing a pet. Then I gathered the most valuable tips for coping with grief and guilt after a pets’ death, and created How to Heal Your Heart After Losing Your Pet.
Do you have any thoughts on your dog’s sudden death, or if it’s too soon to get another dog? Please comment below.
Need encouragement? Sign up for my weekly "Echoes of Joy" email - it's free, short, and energizing. Like me! Is your relationship in trouble? Get 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage from relationship coach Mort Fertel. It's free and helpful, no strings attached.