Senior pet parents sitting at a table with a dog on a woman's lap.

Senior Pet Parents’ Contingency Plans for Pets


Recent Blog:

Facebook Posts

Sometimes senior pet parents need more downtime. For older pet owners, this can be tricky to navigate if their dog or cat is full of beans and wants to play, play, play! Caring for pets requires energy and stamina to spare, from feeding and playtime to grooming, exercise and vet visits.

If you (or mum or dad) are senior pet parents, maybe you’ve begun to think about what this means for your/their pet’s future. Who will take care of Bella or Felix when their pet owner can’t?

In this article PD Insurance looks at different solutions, so that you’re better informed to make the best choices.

Let’s start here:

A senior pet parent petting a dog in a park.

Is it good for older people to have pets?

Yes! The proof is out there – there can be oodles of physical benefits to having a dog or cat. Dogs and cats can reduce high blood pressure, cholesterol, stress and even the risk of heart disease. As a result, they can be life’s tonic for many Australians both as young people and seniors.

  • Pets need lifetime care. But, as any good parent (whether to a person or a pet) knows, it makes sense to prepare for when one can’t take care of their kids and maybe even needs care themselves. Our human kids grow up and learn to forage for themselves. Our dogs and cats, on the other hand continue to need routine pet care, feeding, playtime and more throughout their lifetime. Animals live for many years. You never know what might happen in the meantime.
  • Planning. It’s worth having a good care plan in place for our pets once we reach our ‘golden years’. Not only is it about ensuring that our pets can continue living the lives they deserve but can also give an older pet owner peace of mind having a plan in place.
A couple of older pet owners sit with their Golden Retriever who now lives with their eldest daughter

How long do dogs and cats live for?

Many pets live a long time. In our article on how long cats live, we share some amazing facts about Creme Puff, a cat who lived to be 38 years of age! Until recently, Bobi was considered the oldest dog in the world (RIP Bobi) apparently reaching the grand age of 31 (that’s a whopping lot in dog years).

As older pet parents, we may not be able to take those daily dog walks anymore. Simply feeding our cat could become less of a habit and more of a difficulty when we might need a hand ourselves at dinnertime.

Deciding what happens when owners can’t cater to these needs before it becomes a reality is a good way to provide a soft landing to all involved. Both emotionally and physically.

Senior pet parents making contingency plans

What happens when cat mum passes on, or dog dad moves to a (non-pet-friendly) nursing home? Who will take care of pets when their owners grow older and need taking care of themselves?

What will happen to pooch or puss when you feel too puffed to go out for a walk, play catch in the park or keep up grooming and feeding needs? These conversations are emotional yet valuable to have sooner rather than later. They help shape contingency plans and give you time to prepare these well.

So, let’s look at some options for older pet owners.

Older woman with dog in nature. Statistics on insurance shows how different generations insure their pets

Community networking for senior pet parents

There are several options available for senior pet parents to get a helping hand for taking care of pets. The best place to begin is often with your own network of people you’re close to and connected with.

Consider bringing someone else into the pet relationship. Engage people in your community. Friends, family and neighbours may be able to be involved in spending time with your pet.

For anyone who loves animals and can’t keep one fulltime, spending time with your darling dog or curious cat could be the best thing they could wish for.

Help raise responsible (experienced) future pet owners

Older pet owners could benefit from having a younger person with spare time chip in to care for their pets. There’s a dual benefit to this because that person will also learn some of the responsibilities needed to care for a pet, making them a better equipped pet owner down the line.

  • Part-time pet parenting. A teenager three houses down might wish to have a pet but doesn’t have the full-time capacity to do so. He or she might be happy to take care of a dog or cat part-time. For example, by taking outside during the day or for walks to ensure they’re stimulated and exercised.
  • You still get time with your pet. This way you’re still able to enjoy the downtime with your pet, knowing they’ve also had the activity they need to be healthy and happy. You’ve helped develop someone else’s level of pet care knowledge and one day they can turn out to be an amazing pet parent themselves.

Situations like these can have positive knock-on effects too. This type of pet sharing could stop that teenager from buying a pet they don’t have the means to care for properly. It gives them the chance to level up their pet care skills without too much responsibility all in one go.

Situations like this could potentially help reduce the number of people giving up pets to shelters.

A teenage girl holds up a pair of curly haired dogs she is puppy sitting for her neighbours who are senior pet parents

Explore pet sharing communities and services

Since the COVID pet ownership boom, followed by the end of lockdowns, many pet owners returned to the office leaving their dog or cat home alone more often.

  • Choosing pet carers carefully. Of course, if you’re only temporarily relying on someone else to care for your pet, you’d want to vet them first. Check out pet sharing network online reviews. See what others have shared and experienced. You want to find a person who will cherish your pet at least somewhat as much as you do.

If you’re looking for a professional pet sitter, read more about how to find the right holiday pet care. Also be sure to consider finding a pet god parent.

A dog poses for a series of portraits

Senior pet parents, create your pet’s profile

Something all pet parents can do – not just older pet owners – is to write down who your pet is. That way if anything should happen to you, your pet’s future parent will have a more personalised understanding of who that pet is, from personality to strange quirks and more.

Whether you include this in your will or in a standalone document, it’s important to do so. Why? So that someone else can pick up caring for them relatively easily. Whoever takes on responsibility for your animal has valuable insights.

Here are some examples of points to include in your pet’s profile:

  • Your pet’s name, nickname, commands etc
  • Description, breed etc
  • Health records and vet details
  • Who your cat/dog/bird/horse is in your words and from your perspective
  • The types of activities they enjoy at home and when out
  • What they’re good at, for example, they get on well with other pets/children etc…
  • What they’re not so good at, for example, “my cat doesn’t like being around other cats/dogs”
  • Include some photographs
  • Include a note of who to contact in time of need – vet, boarding kennel, or a friend, family member etc.

It’s important to tell your version of who they are and what you’d want for them for if you’re ever not around. Having the information first-hand from the people who love them the most is golden. When an animal goes to a shelter and/or another owner, they’re able to not just pick up that animal, but also understand who they are right away.

Also read more about getting a pet prenup for your furkid.

A grandmother pets her young black and white puppy.

When it’s OK to surrender pets

As heart breaking as it is, surrendering a pet can sometimes be the best solution for senior pet parents who want the best for their beloved animals. If it gives them the chance to find a safe and loving home that can give them much better quality of life, you’re doing right by them. And that’s the most important consideration.

If your ability for pet care is limited then it’s important that your fur baby doesn’t end up feeling neglected or lonely. Animals deserve the best in care, always. There can also be detrimental behavioural (and physical) effects in this type of situation.

For example, a pet whose owner doesn’t have the capacity to give complete care can end up feeling lonely. Without the correct exercise and feeding routine, pets face possible health problems like obesity, which can lead to diabetes in dogs and cats.

How to choose an animal shelter

If you’re choosing the animal shelter path to rehome a pet, choose one with a responsible rehoming process.

What does this mean? You should expect them to do a thorough family check of all potential adoption family members. They should also check the adopter’s home environment is suitable.

For example:

  • Cats. For example, an outdoorsy cat might need trees and tall scratching posts while an indoorsy one might need a quiet, calm home.
  • Dogs. A dog with lots of energy might need plenty of backyard space or at least an easily accessible dog park and an adopter who’s keen to head there often.

A good pet shelter does their best to ensure that pets and people get the best match in this regard. It helps speed up the settling process and ensures the adoption is a successful one for all round both short and long term.

You can also expect a responsible animal shelter to assess the pet’s health, behaviour and provide flea, tick and deworming medication. Along with this, desexing and microchipping should also be included.

An older couple sit an an outdoor table setting with their pet dog.

Pet friendly retirement villages in Australia

Moving to a retirement village also comes with different considerations when it comes to pet care. But it’s not always bad news for senior pet parents. Many these days allow pets to come too.

The Companion Animal Network Australia (CANA) is working to get the government’s focus on increasing pet-friendly aged care support services.

Before signing a lease, find out the rules around pets. Sometimes bringing a pet is conditional on their size and behaviour. Some retirement homes allow pets but won’t let you replace them if they die. Choose what’s important to you and what you want for your pet when looking for a retirement home.

Got the OK to move pooch in? If you’re worried they may be too loud or boisterous, consider talking to a pet behaviourist. Your vet can also provide good advice.

Senior pet parents – your health, and theirs

Having a pet’s love is wonderful and can make the golden years glow even more! While we’re talking about contingency plans for our pet’s safety, now and into the future, here’s an important consideration…

Seriously considering pet insurance in your long-term plans for your pet is important. If you can afford to then consider how you can keep your pet insured even if you part ways. For example, should it be part of your will, or can you open a savings account for pet insurance in the future?

We know that pet ownership can help keep us healthy both as younger and older pet owners. Which is why giving our pets top-notch cat insurance or dog insurance in return is a wonderful thing to do. Did you know PD Insurance gives you one or more months of award winning pet insurance FREE when you buy online?

Click below to get a quote.

Share On:

How would you, like to proceed?

How would you, like to proceed?