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Caring for Your Dog After You're Gone

Having a plan for your dog can help you feel peace.

It's not an easy thing to think about: what will become of your dog if something happens to you? In fact, it may not be an eventuality that many people consider or plan for at all. Still, it's important to give the issue some thought. If you pass away or become unable to keep your dog, you will want her to be loved and cared for, not simply dropped off at a shelter.

Here are some ways you can ensure that your dog will have a safe place to go if you can no longer care for her.

Appoint a Caregiver

If possible, find a friend or family member who is willing to take your dog in and lovingly care for her if you should die or become incapacitated. Be sure to talk with this person first, encouraging honesty about whether they wish to take on the task. Don't get upset or take it personally if your request is declined; just move to the next person on your list.

It may also be a good idea to name a temporary caregiver who can keep your dog for a short period if the new permanent caregiver is on vacation or otherwise indisposed when the need arises for your dog to be rehomed.

There may be some instances in which having a close friend or family member take your dog is not an option. After all, not everyone likes dogs, has room for one, or wishes to take on the extra responsibility. If you are having trouble thinking of someone with whom to trust your dog, expand your search outside of your inner circle. Consider neighbors who have shown your dog love, a dog sitter you may have used in the past, or dog lovers you know from church or other activities. It is more important for your dog to ultimately be in a loving home than that she stay with your closest friend or relative.

Leave Enough Money

Be sure to plan for the ongoing care of your dog in your will. Leave enough money to the appointed caregiver for food, medications, preventative care, and anything else that might arise. Consider appointing someone you trust other than your dog's new caregiver to be in charge of releasing the money as needed. This will ensure that the funds are used for their intended purpose.

Make Your Choices Known

Consider putting your chosen caregiver's information on your pet's ID tag along with yours. It could say something like, "If my owner is incapacitated, please contact Jane Doe at . . ." You may also want to keep that information in a prominent place in your home and in your wallet or purse in case something happens to you while you're away from your dog.

Be sure that the people closest to you know what your plan is for your dog if you should no longer be able to care for her. This can eliminate any fighting or, worse, your dog being accidentally taken to a shelter by someone who didn't know that provisions had been made for her.

Tell Your Veterinarian

Make sure that your dog's doctor knows the plans you have for your dog. Let your new caregiver know who your dog's veterinarian is, also. That way, your dog's care can stay continuous or, if your new caregiver needs to use a new vet, the old one knows that it's OK to release her records.

Consider Home Visits

If your dog is not familiar with the home or people you have chosen for her, consider having some get-togethers. That way, if it does become necessary for your dog to be rehomed with the appointed person, she will have some familiarity with them and their home. This can help ease your dog's anxiety and make a difficult time a little easier for her.

Final Thoughts

While no one wants to think about dying or becoming incapacitated, the truth is that it does happen sometimes. Having a plan for your dog if it should happen to you can help you relax, knowing that your dog will be well cared for and safe.


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Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at DogHealth.com is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site.