6/29/2021 | By Terri L. Jones

Bob, who had cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, entered a nursing home under hospice care. At approximately the same time, his wife, Lydia, was diagnosed with dementia, so the couple, who had been married for 40-plus years, moved to the nursing home together. But this move left their dog, Oliver, suddenly without anyone to care for him. Thankfully, for Bob and Lydia, a family member was able to adopt him. But that’s not always the case!

As seniors pass away, move to care facilities (which don’t always allow animals), or simply stop driving or can’t get around as easily, their pets often are the victims. Too many animals are euthanized because families simply don’t know what else to do.

When you have a child, you determine in advance who will care for that child should something happen to you. Why wouldn’t you also have plan to care for your pets?

Take Control

It’s critical that you make a plan for your animals before you actually need it – while you’re still healthy and not compromised in any way. That puts the control over Fido’s or Fluffy’s future firmly in your hands. If you wait until it’s an emergency, your loved ones may have to choose what happens to your dog or cat and it’s probably not going to be the choice you would have made.

Consider All of Your Options

Think about the people in your life who love your fur baby. Who can be trusted to care for your pets? Put feelers out to friends, family or neighbors. If there is no one in your inner circle with whom you feel comfortable or who is willing to become your furry friend’s new guardian, sometimes your vet will help you rehome your pet.

A no-kill shelter or rescue organization can also be a good resource for finding a new family. Tell your loved ones your wishes for your animal’s next chapter. Also put that plan in writing and file it right alongside your other important documents.

No Need to Rush to Get Care for Your Pets

Once you have a plan in place, experts recommend not giving up your pet prematurely. Keep that love bug around for as long as possible because having a pet to care for can have a positive impact on both your physical and emotional health. Your pet also will benefit from staying with you longer.

Make the Transition Gradually

When you feel like you’re neglecting your pet’s care (you can’t walk the dog anymore, you’re forgetting feedings, etc.) or risking your own well-being, it’s time for your fur baby to go to their new home; but make that move slowly. Start by having the new pet parent visit Fido or Fluffy at your home and then take your pet to their new home for weekend visits. On these sleepovers, stick around for a little while to feed and care for your pup or kitty in the new setting.

Once your pet has moved in with their new family, be sure to visit on a regular basis. Regular visits will make the transition easier for your pet; also, seeing your dog or cat happy and healthy in their new home also helps you rest easy and move on to your next chapter!

Related: The Best Pets for Seniors

Terri L. Jones

Terri L. Jones has been writing educational and informative topics for the senior industry for over ten years, and is a frequent and longtime contributor to Seniors Guide.

Terri Jones