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  • Shelly Gonzalez

Pet Loss and emergency preparedness

TW: Pet death. This blog is about having the documents that you need in case your pet experiences a medical emergency while you're away. It also discusses planning for end of life, hospice care, and there are a list of grief resources at the end.

I'm a firm believer in "plan for the worst, hope for the best." I approach most everything along those lines, but somehow, thinking about/ planning for serious medical emergencies is something that I have neglected for my own pups.

I've been doing some research and have found a lot of information and resources on planning for the unthinkable, and I wanted to share those with you.

Pet Parent Death

First, and probably the easiest for me to deal with, is what happens if the pet parent dies. Who takes care of the pup? Where do Coco and Jelly go?

Faithful Friends Pet Crematory has resources for that event.

Here is a link to the PDF

It looks like you can easily fill it out stating where you'd like for your pups to go in the event of your death. Make sure all relevant parties have a copy and maybe keep a copy with your own advanced directive. *You can get a free template online if you need to make your own advanced directive/ living will.

Medical Emergency

Should a medical emergency occur, have you thought about your wishes for your pet? Have you considered at what point you would *not* want additional measures to be taken to prolong their life? Should CPR be performed? Who has the authority to make those choices if you're not able to be reached? Is euthanasia anything to consider, and if so, under what circumstances? How much would you authorize to be spent on medical care? There are actually multiple forms online that you can fill out to express some of these wishes.

Kenwood Animal Hospital has forms related to an advanced directive, medical power of attorney, and DNR orders.

Mulnix Animal Clinic has a form specifically for pet parents who are out of town.

Bent Tree Animal Hospital also has a form for pet parents who are out of town.

Personally, I'm not a fan of any of these forms as they are and have decided to use pieces of all three to create my own set of forms for the treatment of my pups.

Hospice Care

Some pet parents become caregivers to hospice pets. Either because our own pups have moved to a stage in life where they require hospice, or because these amazing souls have chosen to foster pets who are near the end of their lives. Paws into Grace has some wonderful resources about navigating decision making with your pup.

They have an ER symptom guide to help pet parents decide if an emergency vet visit is necessary or if they should call their pet hospice veterinarian as well as an ER checklist and plan.

And still more decisions

Even after death, we still need to make a few more decisions for our pups. Faithful friends has a 16 page "Step by Step Pre-Planning Guide for Pet Lovers."

This is a printable PDF that walks you through, step by step, the different things to think about for your pup *after their death*. It includes things related to burial, cremation, and remembrance ceremonies.

Grief Support

Stray Rescue offers a weekly support group:

Paws Forever offers pet cremation and a monthly pet loss support group:

A google search of pet loss support identified a few pet loss hotlines:

Grief Recovery Hotline: 800-445-4808 M-F 9am-5pm PST

The Grief Recovery Institute: 888-773-2683

The Iams Pet Loss Support Center & Hotline: 888-332-7738, M-Sa 8a-8p

College of Veterinary medicine at the University of Illinois; C.A.R.E. Pet Loss Hotline: 877-394-2273


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