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Plan now for your pet's future care

Q: My dog died recently, and I very much want to welcome a new dog into my life, but at my advanced age, I fear the dog will outlive me. What is your advice?

A: Research shows that animal companions help people live longer, healthier, happier lives, so I think you should share your love with a new dog. Consider adopting a senior pet, and arrange for his care if he outlives you.

Ask a trusted family member, friend or rescue organization to care for him if you become incapacitated or pass away during his lifetime. Set aside funds for his food, veterinary care and other needs.

To ensure that your wishes are carried out, establish a pet trust with the help of an estate attorney.

Editor’s Note: Tips on long-term pet planning—including establishing temporary or permanent guardianship—are discussed in greater detail here: Pet planning: Care for your pet in case something happens to you.

Younger readers should think about this subject, too, because something as commonplace as a car accident might prevent you from caring for a beloved pet.

Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine in Pennsylvania. Contact her at

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