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

If You Die or Get Sick, What Happens to Your Dog?

Labrador Retriever on Lap
Kimberlee Reimer/Moment/Getty Images

Most of us do not expect to die before our dogs. Most of us cannot even imagine becoming incapacitated to the point where we cannot care for our dogs. However, the unexpected can happen at any time. If you pass away, do you know what will happen to your dog? Who will care for your dog if you get sick or injured? 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.

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

Be sure someone has access to your home.

This may seem morbid, but if you live alone and you die or get hurt, your dog will be left alone. If a trusted friend or family member has your house key, they will be able to get into your home if they have not 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 for your dog.

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, ask who would 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 (in case no friends or family members can take your dog).

 

Clearly define your wishes for your dog.

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, vaccines and more. Provide any other details that you feel are important, such as your dog's personality traits, training history, lifestyle preferences, regular diet, daily routine, etc.

Make financial arrangements for your dog.

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 it, 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 12-15 years. Even if you cannot afford to put a lot of money into a trust, you can at least provide a smaller 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.