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The "New" Pet: When Is The Right Time?

Posted December 21, 2014 in End-of-Life Support & Grieving Dogs

Part I of Dr. Jeff Werber's three-part series on end-of-life issues for pets focused on when to say goodbye. Part II focused on the particulars of euthanasia. Now, Dr. Werber answers the question, "When is the right time to bring a new pet into my home?." For more from Dr. Werber, find him on Facebook or on his website at

In Part I of this series I shared my thoughts and offered some guidelines about when to think about euthanasia, and in Part II talked about the process itself.  In this, the final, segment I want to share some insights about when to consider the “next” pet.

When discussing the idea of getting another pet after the loss of a former one, I’ve heard it all.  Nothing surprises me any more.  The sentiments are usually those of “not now,” and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “never again!”  Early in my career I often heard clients tell me that “this is the last one,” or “I won’t ever go through this again,” or “it’s too painful,” to something as strange as “Fluffy would never want me to replace him!”  It used to sadden me that after a loss like this, a fair number of clients actually felt that they would never want to open their homes or hearts again to another pet!  When hearing it, I could never believe it.  Well, now I know better!  In reality, practically EVERY one of these clients DID come back to me with a new bundle of fur—some after several weeks, some months, and even some after several years—but all did come back.  Now this does NOT surprise me!  If fact, when I hear those same comments now, clients telling me that this pet was their last, I quietly laugh inside—because now I know better!  Odds are, I will see them again.  Once you’ve experienced the joys of pet parenting and sharing your lives with pets, it’s really difficult to live without them.

When is the best time?  This is such a personal decision, one that I will often tell my clients that they will know when the time is right.  I do try to have them not anthropomorphize and tell me that their deceased pet “would not want them to replace him!”  For me, I try to open my home to a new pet as soon as

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Jeff has more than 30 years of experience in the veterinary industry and is a licensed veterinarian as well as a founding member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team.