In most cases, a pet can be one of the best daily boosts to mental health. In fact, 87% of pet owners reported mental health improvements from their pets, and can even be a good way to stave off depression, lower blood pressure and elevate levels of serotonin. However, sometimes circumstances don’t allow us to get as much joy out of our relationships with our pets as we’d like. In cases like this, it could be a good idea to consider re-homing.
Re-homing a dog or cat is never an easy decision. Even when the responsibility of pet ownership can feel like too much, the affection and loyalty we feel for our four-legged companions can make it hard to say goodbye. However, even if it isn’t a decision we want to make, it’s the one that’s best for the happiness of both the pet and the owner.
For those asking “Should I re-home my dog?” take a look at this guide for information on common scenarios when re-homing is a good option and ways to manage the stress of re-homing, as well as resources that can help you re-home your pet successfully.
Reasons to Re-Home Your Dog or Cat
Knowing when it’s the right time to consider re-homing a cat or dog is the first and most crucial step of the process. More than 1 million pets are re-homed each year, but if you’re not sure whether you’re ready to become one of them, take a look at some of these common reasons.
Changing Living Situations
Often, difficulties with a pet come as a result of changes in living circumstances. This can happen when you move to a new home, invite another person to come live with you or lose your home for another reason. It’s important that your pet has a safe and stable place to live, and if you find you’re not able to provide that, it may be time to consider finding a new home for them.
When Seeking Treatment
While in some cases re-homing may be necessary because of the behavior of the animal, just as often it’s because of stress, anxiety, depression or other psychological factors on the part of the owner. While in many cases these hurdles can be overcome with therapy, in others it can mean long-term changes in your ability to care for an animal. If you are seeking rehab, detox or treatment for a mental or physical health condition that drastically undermines your pet ownership responsibilities, it may be worth considering re-homing.
When the Responsibility Becomes Too Much
Taking care of a pet is a big responsibility, but it’s not always one everyone is able to handle. All too often owners find that when puppies turn into dogs, the responsibility that comes with caring for them becomes too great. While pet owners should never re-home their dogs and cats without careful consideration, it’s also true that they shouldn’t keep pets that cause them unmanageable stress.
Animal Behavior Problems
In many cases, animals suffer from their own behavioral problems that can add to the already significant challenges of taking care of them. In such cases, ensuring the animal receives specialized attention from a qualified owner is the best course of action.
Managing the Feelings That Come With Re-Homing
Whether you’re early in the re-homing process or have recently re-homed a pet, coming to terms with your feelings can be a lasting challenge. To help manage the stress and sadness of losing a pet, start by considering each of these steps.
Understanding the Decision
If you’ve decided to re-home your pet, the next step is coming to terms with the choice and understanding the positive aspects of it. Try to remind yourself of the reasons you decided to re-home your dog or cat in the first place. Then, ask yourself whether your pet is happier in its new home than it could have been with you.
Staying in Touch
While staying in touch with the pet’s new owner may be difficult at first, it can go a long way toward accepting your decision over the long term. It’s probably best to avoid in-person visits in the near future, but phone and email conversations can be vital.
Also, by keeping an open line of communication, you can make sure your pet’s needs are being taken care of. This can mean assisting the new owner with important information about your pet as well as ensuring that they’re making the effort.
Finding a Professional to Talk To
Getting in touch with a mental health professional can be the perfect way to discuss the feelings that come with re-homing a pet. In therapy, you can help process stress, anxiety and depression while also beginning to treat the underlying issues that caused you to re-home your pet in the first place.
Learning how to re-home a dog or other pet starts with getting access to the right re-homing resources. It’s always best to re-home your pet through the proper channels, as classified ads and disreputable websites can often lead to your pet ending up the victim of abuse or neglect.
In many cases, if you’re looking to find a new home for your pet, someone you already know is your best bet. Friends and family members are good places to start, as they may either adopt your pet outright or provide a contact who will. Otherwise, you can research organizations that specialize in re-homed cats and dogs.
If you’re in the process of finding a home for a cat or dog, try consulting these resources first:
- Get Your Pet
- The American Animal Hospital Association
- The Humane Society
- No-Kill Advocacy Centers
If you’re looking for more ways to manage the stress of pet ownership while battling addiction, substance abuse or other mental health issues, get in touch with FHE Health today. Our team has the skills and experience necessary to help you with a wide range of challenges relating to addition, including the stress that comes with re-homing cats and dogs.