Pet Care Planning for Older Dog Owners

Written by Mathew Coulton

Your dog is a treasured part of your life, they are your companion, comfort and caring friend. Your time together is precious and irreplaceable. And given the valuable bond we have with our dogs, we often avoid making hard decisions for their long term wellbeing, should something happen to us.

Now, of course, emergencies happen to everyone. Sudden illness, accidents and even bouts of mental distress can leave our pups vulnerable. As we get older, however, it is even more important we think about having safeguards in place for every eventuality:

  • What happens if I am unwell or incapacitated for some reason?
  • What if I am unable to care for them as well as I once could?
  • What is the best situation for them if an emergency happens?

Let’s break this all down.

How can I prepare for emergency situations?

Like with all good emergency planning, there are two major aspects to this: how you’re going to do it, and who is
going to help you.

The logistics of an emergency pet care plan
To have an effective emergency plan, it is good practice to write down the steps that you or someone with you would take after the emergency has happened. This needs to include:

  • The contact number of your dog’s emergency caregiver
  • The contact number of your vet
  • Important basic details of your dog
    For example, their name, health conditions, sex, and age.
  • Your dog’s typical care regimen
    This includes the number of walks they are accustomed to, any medication they take, the number of meals they eat daily, and the type of food they eat.

Finding emergency caregivers
The people you choose to care for your dog in case of emergency are like aunties and uncles to your pup. You need to have complete trust that your dog is in the safest hands possible during your absence. This could be a member of your family, a neighbour, a fellow pet parent you are friendly with, or a paid professional. Once you have found a suitable candidate, share the emergency plan with them and iron out the kinks together.

For safe measure, you may want to enlist two or three emergency caregivers in case one is incapacitated or out of the country.

What if I need support in caring for my dog?

Our dogs are such a crucial part of our daily lives, that it is hard to imagine being without them. Even if we find ourselves with less energy and less general ability to care for our dogs in the best way, you may still want to have them around. What do we do then?

Investing in gear
Dr. Ros Dench from Gentle Dog Trainers says “the world of pet care products has advanced hugely in the past few years. You can use the innovations in dog gear to help support you in caring for your dog.”

Automatic feeders that open at the correct time every day. Smart water dispensers that replenish your dog’s bowl.
Electronic dog toys that keep your dog occupied and exercised around your house and garden. There are so many
products that can help you be the owner you always were.

Hiring help
If you need some more permanent support that technology just can’t fix, you may consider hiring extra help. This could be a daily dog walker to walk your dog on your behalf. It could be a pet sitter who visits to play with your dog multiple times a week. Maybe even enlisting your friends and family members, who love your dog, to chip in with their care. You will know who is best to support you and your dog.

What if the worst happens?

Here we are talking about permanent carers. It is awful to think about, but as good dog owners we all must prepare for the worst. Finding a permanent home for your dog is no easy feat, but there are a couple of options.

Permanent pet carers
The search for a permanent pet parent for your pup should be slightly more rigorous than with emergency pet carers. Emergencies are most likely to be short and not that cumbersome. Permanent pet carers have a huge responsibility on their hands. Take your time to find the right person that has a good relationship with your dog.

For the added security, you can consider creating a formal agreement. Not necessarily a notarised contract, but something more official than a handshake.

Dog shelters and charities
Many rescue centres and certain charities will happily rehome your dog if you ask for their help. To arrange this, do get in touch with them and let them know your wishes. Any emergency pet carers you have should also be notified of the shelter or charity you trust most.

Planning for peace of mind

Your dog deserves the best support, love, and care that you can give them. Having a solid pet care plan means that that same quality of love and care will continue no matter what. It is the greatest gift you can give your dog. We hope this article was helpful in creating a plan that works for you.