Making Plans for Your Dog's Care If You're Not Around

Labrador Retriever on Lap
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Most of us expect to outlive our dogs because of their short lifespans. It may be hard to imagine becoming incapacitated to the point where you cannot care for your dog. However, the unexpected can happen at any time. What happens if you pass away before your dog?

Making Plans For Your Dog After You are Gone

It's important to plan for the unexpected. Now is a good time to start making arrangements for your dog's care in the event you are no longer there to take care of him. Have you considered who will care for your dog if you get sick or injured?

Here are some ways to prepare for your dog's future.

Be Sure Someone Has Access to Your Home

It may seem morbid, but if you live alone and you die or get hurt, your dog will be left alone. However, a trusted friend or family member who has your house key will be able to get into your home if they haven't heard from you in a while. On that note, talk to friends and family about what to do if they have not heard from you in a few days. Unfortunately, you never know what can happen.

Talk to Family Members and Friends About your Wishes

Find out who is willing to adopt your dog if you die or can no longer care for him. If you cannot find someone to make a commitment to keep your dog, see who might be willing to foster your dog until a home is found. As a precaution, it's a good idea to make a list of preferred rescue organizations in your area where you would like your dog to go until a permanent home is found. This will be helpful in case no friends or family members can take your dog. 

It's also a good idea to communicate with your vet about your wishes. You may want to add an authorized person to your dog's records so they can get access if needed in the future.

Include Your Dog in Your Will

It's important that you make a will that includes your dog. Be specific about who should take your dog. Ideally, make a list of several people in order of your preference, in case your first choice cannot take your dog. Indicate which veterinarian has been caring for your dog. Keep your dog's health records accessible so the new owner will know your dog's medical history, including health issues, allergies, vaccinations, and more. Include notes about your dog's regular diet and training history.

Provide any other details that you feel are important, such as your dog's personality traits, lifestyle preferences, and daily routine. Include any pre-arrangements that have been made for your dog. For example, did you already make arrangements to have your pet buried or cremated? Or, when your dog eventually passes away, do you want specific arrangements made? Perhaps you have asked to have your ashes scattered in your favorite place and you would like the same to be done with your dog's ashes when the time comes.

Make Financial Arrangements

It may be less of a burden for someone to take on your dog if there is some kind of financial assistance included. If it is possible for you to do so, set up a pet trust that will cover your dog's expenses. Consider how much it costs to care for your dog in one year. Try to allow for the extra cost of unexpected events, like illnesses or injuries. Multiply it by the number of years you expect your dog to live. A dog's average lifespan is about 12-15 years. Even if you cannot afford to put a lot of money into a trust, you can at least provide a small amount to help the new owner get started.

We never expect that we won't be there for our pets, but it happens all the time. Don't let your dog end up without a loving home and family. Once you have made these arrangements for your dog, you can rest more easily knowing your dog will be taken care of if something happens to you.