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How to Ensure Your Pet is Taken Care of After You’re Gone

It is in our nature to avoid thinking about or discussing death. But since everyone must eventually face death, we should all make plans for it.

Unfortunately, one of the reasons pets end up in shelters is that their owners failed to develop emergency plans for their pets' care. It's crucial to make these plans for your pets if you want to guarantee that they will still get the love and care they deserve in the event of your passing.

How, then, can you prepare for your pets' care in the event of your death? Below, we'll list the main factors to think about.

Select both a temporary and long-term pet caregiver.

You should choose two people when deciding who will look after your pets when you’re gone: one to adopt them permanently, and the other to provide temporary care.

The idea behind selecting a temporary caregiver for your pets is to find someone who resides close by and can meet their immediate needs. This is very important for the hours and days right after your death.

A permanent caregiver will then step in to adopt your pet. The ideal candidate for this position would be someone who has previously interacted with your pets and demonstrated that they are excellent pet caretakers.

Consider the following when choosing who will permanently adopt your pets in the event of your passing:

  • Does the potential permanent home you are considering fit the type of environment your pet is used to?

  • Does your pet get along well with kids and other animals?

  • Do your pets have to stay together, and if so, is the person you're thinking of adopting able to take on more than one pet?

  • What unique requirements does your pet have, and can the person meet those requirements?

  • What are the person's opinions on issues involving pet care, such as euthanasia, and do they align with your own?

Make sure the people you're considering for your pet's emergency and temporary care, especially the person you want to permanently adopt your pet from, are completely at ease with the responsibility by having a conversation with them.

Inform others of your intentions

Make sure the people in your life are aware of who to call in an emergency once you've selected a temporary and permanent caregiver for your pets. This can be accomplished by having face-to-face conversations with your loved ones, or you can make an emergency notice card that you keep both at home and in your wallet.

Your permanent caregiver's name and phone number should be listed on your emergency notice card. You'll then need to make sure that your permanent caregiver and emergency caregiver are both aware of one another so that they can communicate in the event of your passing.

Make a list of your pet's care instructions.

Each pet's needs are a little bit different. You want the person who steps in to take care of your pets to know exactly what to do in the event that you pass away or are unable to.

You can make a straightforward "guide" to taking care of your pet that contains the following details:

  • Name and contact information for the veterinarian who treats your pet

  • Dietary requirements of your pet (amount and type of food given daily, at what times)

  • Whether your pet has any allergies

  • Fitness requirements for your pet

  • Where your pet spends the night (your bet, a crate, etc.)

  • Whether they are capable of using a dog door to leave the house on their own

  • Which medicines your pet is taking, such as monthly heartworm treatments

  • Anything particular that your pet enjoys

  • Any particular aversions your pet may have (such as riding in the car) and how you help them manage those aversions

Make a power of attorney for the care of your pet.

You can designate a person to handle your pet's care if you are unable to do so by granting them a power of attorney. Making power of attorney documents is not difficult, and they guarantee that your pet is in good hands.

Your final wishes for your pets, including moving them to their permanent home, will also be carried out by this person. If your emergency caregiver is willing to assume that responsibility, you can designate them to serve as your pet's power of attorney.

Include your animals in your trust or will.

Your final wishes for your pet can become legally binding if you use a will or trust. You can allocate money for your pet's care using either choice. A will, though, takes effect only after your death, whereas a trust can take effect while you are still alive.

If you're unable to make decisions about your pets' care for an extended period of time due to an illness or injury, this can be very helpful.

Creating rehoming instructions.

It's not unusual to have no one in your life who could or would be willing to adopt your animals while you're away. You have other choices if no one wants to adopt your animals. Designating an emergency caregiver who can take over and carry out these plans is still a good idea, if you can.

Making rehoming instructions for your family and friends to follow is one option. You'll make a list of the characteristics you want in a new home for your pets, and they'll do their best to find them one. There are many caring families out there who would be ideal for your pet.

You can also choose a charity or organization if your pet is elderly, has special needs, or you're worried they won't be adopted right away. There are numerous non-profit groups that concentrate on assisting animals in this situation, including the following:

There might also be regional organizations in your vicinity.

Make sure the organization is a good fit for your pet by getting in touch with them and asking any questions you may have.

Making Your Pets' Welfare a Priority

One of the most selfless and responsible things you can do as a pet owner is to make thorough plans for your animals. Even though it's unpleasant to imagine our pets living without us, it's crucial to make sure they continue to receive the level of care you want for them even after you're gone.


About the Author

Sarah is a writer at, an end-of-life planning website with free resources and information on how to estate plan and honor loved ones’ final wishes.

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