College of Veterinary Medicine
Pet Memorial Program

When getting a new pet

When Getting a New PetWhen getting a new pet consider status quo now and what you are capable of handling.

What about your current elderly pets in the house?
Perhaps you have an elderly dog that may not be receptive or physically able to handle a young rambunctious puppy.  Remember your primary responsibility is your current pets.  While it may be surprising to some; many older animals are disposed of at local shelters after years in a household because they do not get along with the new puppy.  Please do not do this to a pet that have given you so many wonderful years.

Introduce the new addition in the appropriate manner conducive for both new pet and old.  Ask vets, breeders and possible internet sources on appropriate methods for introductions.

Is this a family decision?
Make sure that the entire family is ready to take on not only the responsibility but the emotions of a new pet.  Some family members may take a while to be ready while others will want a new pet right away.  Everyone in the family needs to come to an understanding and mutually agree when a new pet is brought into the home.  Discuss this decision with your family.  It is often recommended not to ‘surprise’ your children with a new pet but discuss with them if they are ready for a new pet.

Do not make a hasty decision
Do not run out and get a new pet quickly to fill the empty house.  As explained in Should I get a new pet, make sure you are ready for the commitment for a NEW relationship.  Furthermore, this is you and your household’s decision.  Do not let a friend or relative push you into a new companion animal before you are ready.  You also may want to explain to a well intentioned friend that you do not want to be surprised with a new pet.  If they are really interested in helping you find a new one.  Offer to take them along with you look for a new pet.

When looking at prospective pets the different breeds so you know what their characteristics are.  Perhaps while the lab puppy is very cute-having a high energy dog is not suited for your lifestyle.   Look at multiple different animals-avoid the propensity to run and get the first animal you see.  There are plenty of dogs at the local shelter, and many different breeders.  Make sure the dog and breeder are something you are comfortable with.

Introduction to existing pets
Consider introducing the prospective new pet with your current pet (more applicable for dogs—not cats or other animals) on neutral ground.  While certainly not a guarantee they will never get along or always get a long it is always good to see how they interact.  It is always recommended with any new pet that you keep them separated from other pets when unattended.

Responsible precautions for safety of your new pet
When getting a new pet—consider how you lost your old pet.  If it was to a contagious disease, open gate, or no gated yard take the necessary precautions to try and prevent it from happening to your new pet.  

If it was a contagious disease ensure ALL possible modes of transmission have been cleaned (do not give them old toys, sterilize litter boxes or crates thoroughly).  For some diseases such as canine parvo-virus and feline leukemia some vets recommend as long as 6 months before a new pet can enter the home.  Also remember that while vaccines are a great way to prevent an animal from becoming infected they are not 100% effective. Talk with your vet before introducing a new pet or vaccinated or unvaccinated into your home following the loss of your pet due to a contagious disease.

If your pet got loose from the yard-have you fixed this problem by putting up or reinforcing the fence? Ensure you new pet will be safe.

Other recommendations
Some recommend you avoid getting a pet that looks exactly like your old pet.  As stated before-no matter how close the new pet looks like your old pet-it is NOT and never will be the pet you lost.  Some even recommend getting a different breed or sex from your old pet.  These are just recommendations, however.  There are many people how are breed loyal because they love the attributes of the breed.  Just understand you are getting new pet with a new personality.

If you find yourself wondering if you should in fact get another pet, perhaps consider volunteering or fostering from a local shelter.  This prevents you from getting a new pet, and realizing you weren’t ready and then struggling on what to do with it.  And it also allows an animal a chance at a new life.  Who knows you may even find your new forever pet while fostering or volunteering.