Death isn't a fun subject to talk about, but you have to map out your plan ahead of time as you think about your pet's situation.
Pets are a significant factor in a human's life as they give genuine happiness to those who take care of them.
Table of Contents
- Can Dogs Sense If A Loved One Is About To Die?
- What Happens to A Mourning Pet?
- Pets with Separation Anxiety
- How to Help Your Pet Cope Up with Grief
- How to Provide for Pets in Your Will
- What Should I Write on My Pet's Trust or Agreement?
- Can I Request My Pet Be Euthanized Upon My Death?
Statistically speaking, a dog's life expectancy alone is 20% of the overall human lifespan. That's about 10 to 13 years only. Relatively low with our human life span.
Throughout our lifetime, most of us have seen our pets pass away. If not most of us, many have experienced feelings of devastation and sadness when we see our pets die and would always leave a hollow feeling in our hearts.
But what if we are the ones who succumb to death first? Have you ever thought of who will take care of your pets or who is going to comfort them when you are away?
Written below are some things you have to remember.
Can Dogs Sense If A Loved One Is About To Die?
Although dogs are undoubtedly different from us, our canine friends can perfectly understand when we feel sad and troubled.
They can even feel when we are weak and ill, and you may notice that they always stay by your side or cuddle wherever you are. Your pets are actually watching or even warning you of symptoms that you cannot sense yourself.
Their sense of smell is sharp to the extent that they can detect your blood pressure and sugar level changes. Therapy and service dogs specialize within this area of expertise.
Dogs have multiple reactions when they sense that you're sick. It's either they'll go through a fit of panic, or they may adopt a more caring nature.
In contrast, when your canine(s) sense that you are dying, they will start to whine, howl, or pace around you. This behavior will quickly alert the person accompanying you to take you to the nearest hospital.
However, your dog will grow anxious when they sense that you are in your final stages of death. They'll constantly nudge and move you in attempts to see if you're still conscious.
What Happens to A Mourning Pet?
As humans, it is difficult for us to understand our dog's genuine emotions since we don't know what's inside their heads and what they generally think about us. We can only see a window of them through their manifested actions or behaviors.
According to studies, dogs can feel basic emotions such as joy, fear, anger, disgust, and love but complex ones like guilt, pride, and shame are out of their league. Thus, it is also hard for us to manifest what emotion they can be portraying.
When a dog loses someone, significantly those who are dear to them, they don't necessarily grieve, not because they don't want to but because they don't know how to. What your dogs all know is they immensely miss this person due to the absence that they give.
When this happens, a dog's overall personality changes.
Pets with Separation Anxiety
Dogs who are suffering from Separation Anxiety get affected the most when they lose a loved one.
As mentioned above, dogs don't necessarily grieve, but dogs with separation anxiety can feel immense sadness and fear when they don't see their owners around; thus, they exhibit the following:
- Loss of appetite
- Destructive actions (e.g., tendency to soil the whole house because of the missing owner)
- Excessive self-licking to remind them of their owner's touch
- Lethargy even with things that they usually get excited about
- Restlessness and impulsive behavioral aspects
- Vocalization like in high pitched sounds (e.g., groaning, howling, whimpering)
- Abnormal sleep schedule (either they cannot sleep, or they sleep too much)
- Changing of areas where they sleep, usually nearby wherever they smell their deceased loved one's scent
Some of these dogs generally do not show any physical changes when they're in the stage of grief. Instead, their behavioral pattern changes, and this becomes apparent as time passes.
How to Help Your Pet Cope Up with Grief
There may be instances that we may be able to settle with someone to leave our pet if something may happen.
Before we deal with the legalities, let us know some basics that can help our pets if they are left behind with family members or friends and when these separation anxieties worsen.
- Spend extra time with them and always cuddle or show affection. If they enjoy friends, invite the familiar someone to come over and let your pets play.
- Reinforce good behavior and ignore stress-induced ones that may have resulted in the loss of their owner. Due to their anxiety about their owners' absence, they must have someone else attached to them again and “fill in” what was once lost.
- Seek medical attention or go to a vet for necessary actions to do so that we can help our pets with their grief.
Take time to be patient with your pets when they are experiencing these things, for they cannot fully express what they truly feel.
How to Provide for Pets in Your Will
Whether you are suffering from a particular terminal condition or not, it's best to think ahead of time and consider some things you need to do for your pets.
Options may vary, especially if you don't trust yourself regarding future events involving an untimely death. You may either want to put them on adoption or leave them in the hands of those you can trust.
However, if you are still confused about what to do, try following the tips below.
Obtain Pet Trust or Agreement
Pet trust is a legal settlement where you will transfer the ownership of your dogs to a conviction. By getting this option, you are legally allowed to ask for assistance in case of disability or death.
There are two options when obtaining a pet trust:
1. A traditional pet trust is legal in every state and gives pet owners the most control over how the entrusted people they chose will take care of their pets.
In a traditional pet trust, you dictate the caregiver's name and the trustee that will handle the money you give. If you add life insurance to it, you will name the trustee as its beneficiary.
A benefit of having a traditional pet trust is that the court will strictly enforce everything you wish for within the agreement.
2. On the other hand, a statutory pet trust trusts where you don't name your pet's caregiver. However, you will only indicate the sum you'll leave for your pet, and statutes covered by the state will handle the rest.
For example, if you leave cash under your pet's name, the court will name the people who will take care of them.
Though you don't make as many decisions as a traditional pet trust, a statutory pet trust is a basic plan that ends after the death of the last surviving pet.
Questions may arise, though especially inadequacy in funding when the state chooses the caregiver.
Include A Provision in Your Will
A will is a legal document created with the assistance of your lawyer. This document indicates and lists your wishes for your property, wealth, and care for your children and pets.
You may provide amenities and provisions for your pets in your Will,
This option may cost less than creating and going for a traditional pet trust.
Since the government sees a pet as property, you can choose to keep them in the family. You can also gift any of your pets to a friend, like what you can do to any of your properties.
If you don't have the privileges to obtain the first two, you may ask a close family member or friend if they can take care of your pets once you depart from this world.
However, you must ensure that these individuals are mentally and physically prepared to take care of your pets. You must also make sure that they are financially stable to be able to provide for your pets.
Bear in mind that since this is an informal settlement unsupervised by the government, the caregiver of your pet does not have any legal liabilities and obligations over them.
Thus, you will have no control over the care and nurture your pet will receive after your death. Hence, it would be best to leave your pets to those you trust and care for the most.
Create a Pet Protection Agreement
A Pet Protection Agreement is a legal document similar to a will, but the focus will be on your pets.
This agreement indicates and can spell out instructions for your pets, signed by you and your pet's legal guardian.
According to Legalzoom, this does not just apply when you pass away but also when you're injured or incapable of supporting your pets. It's going to be a private agreement between you and the guardian.
In this agreement, you may also specify what your pets like to eat, their daily schedules, anything the guardian will keep in mind if something terrible may happen.
What Should I Write on My Pet's Trust or Agreement?
When applying for a pet trust agreement, prioritize the funding for their foods, treats, grooming, preferred vet expenses, and caregiver funding.
It is essential to think about your dog's daily diet, what you feed them, and the price you typically pay for them. Take notes if there is anything they are allergic to or what conditions they might be prone to, etc.
You must also note within the trust or agreement which grooming stations you usually go to and what part they need to prioritize. Remember to indicate whatever cut your dog is comfortable with, the scent they would like, its temperament in grooming, and others.
Lastly, you must also indicate if your pet has a specific veterinarian that you both trust to take care of your dog. Highlight if they need constant checkups, what to do in emergencies, and the vet's location that you frequent.
Although caregiver funding is not a requirement at all, it's an excellent suggestion to compensate for the trustee's efforts or the caregiver.
Furthermore, you must also have an emergency fund ahead of time. If your dog gets sick, additional payments for treatment and medication are highly possible; thus, it is best to set aside emergency funds for them.
However, it would be helpful to stick to your budgeted plan for your pet. Your family, relatives, and other beneficiaries might contest your decision and cut off a lot of the money.
Can I Request My Pet Be Euthanized Upon My Death?
The short answer is no; this request is rendered invalid by the court, especially if the pet is in total health. Many other humane options are available for the care of their pet, and this option is not one of them.
However, there are some instances that this is taken into consideration only if the pet is old, sickly, and near death. Indefinite care is unfair for both the dog and the caregiver assigned for your pet.
Thus, it's suggested to be thorough with your plans for your pets while you're still alive.
People say that it's a different kind of pain when one of your pets dies. It's true, and I have experienced it numerous times before.
However, it's different for our pets. They may only be only a part of our lifetime, but we are their whole lifetime.
Most of our pets have spent their time with us from the day they are born until they are old. That's why, when a family member experiences death, it will become a massive void in their heart.
It will help if you recognize that there are possibilities that you will pass away before your beloved pet. Life might be short, but at least we will be able to take care of our pets in the future.
Hence, you must follow the tips we recommend above. You are one step closer to ensuring that everyone, including your beloved pets, is in good hands.