Providing for Your Pet After Death

Pets are an integral part of most of our lives. In fact, the American Pet Products Association estimates that 68 percent of American households have a pet. That’s a lot of us. However, that being said, many of those pets are left without owners to care for them when they die. They can end up in shelters and hopefully adopted by good families. However, to ensure your pet is cared for when you die, it’s important to have a plan in place just like you would if you had young children.

Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford is a family-run, full-service funeral home that offers cremation services as well as burial services. Our mission is to help you through all aspects of your loved one’s passing, from embalming to burial, as well as aftercare services to help you sort through everything. In this blog post, we’ll offer up tips on how to provide for your pet after your death. Contact us today!


  • Designate a pet caregiver. This can be formally, such as in your will, or verbally with a good friend or family member. However, designating someone to care for your pet upon your death will prevent your pet from being forgotten in the immediate aftermath of your death. This person(s) should have access to your home (key or key code) and be provided with care instructions for your pet, such as feeding instructions and vet contact information.
  • Share your pet caregiver’s information with neighbors, family, and friends. In the midst of an unexpected death, the shock can make your caregivers forget their duties. Having as many people as possible know your pet caregivers information will help ensure your pets are not forgotten. If you have more than one caregiver designated, make sure they can contact each other to see who is doing what for your pets.
  • Plug your pet caregiver’s information into your phone. When you pass, your phone will be a treasure trove of information on vital contacts, such as relatives to notify. Your immediate family will probably scroll through your phone for this information, and having a contact labeled “Sheila pet caregiver” can help ensure your pets will be provided for after you pass.
  • Post “in case of emergency” notification signs around your home. Make sure your pet caregivers are included on your emergency contact lists. Also include the number of pets and what type. You’d be surprised how in the midst of chaos, a cat can slip out the door and get lost. This is a good idea for fires as well.
  • Make it official. If you truly want your pet taken care of, make sure this information is included in your last will and testament, especially if you are leaving money to that caregiver for the express purpose of taking care of your pets. This is really the only way to be 100 percent sure your pet goes to whom you want your pet to go to and that your pet is provided for in the manner you wish.
  • Choose a caregiver your pets know. Ideally, you want to choose a caregiver with care. Making sure this person is an animal lover is step number one. Choosing someone who the pet knows will make your pet’s transition easier, which is especially true for animals who don’t necessarily bond with other people very easily. This could be your breed of dog or horse even. Good choices are your children, parents, or siblings. Name an alternate caregiver as well just in case at the time of your death your preferred caregiver for your pet has had a change in circumstances and can no longer care for your pet. Having an alternate lined up will eliminate any guesswork and help keep your wishes for your pet fulfilled. Ultimately, the caregiver will have final say in the pet’s health once you pass. This is why you want to choose a caregiver with the right heart. Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford offers prearrangement services as well for your loved one.
  • Try not to rely on the humane society. It’s an unfortunate fact that many deceased pet owners’ pets end up at the humane society, hoping to find a loving home for the rest of their lives. However, many animal shelters are overwhelmed and can’t guarantee a permanent home will be found, which could result in your animal being euthanized — something you definitely don’t want. Also, some pet won’t take too kindly to being caged suddenly when they aren’t used to it and they may suffer stress and anxiety. It’s best to do the legwork yourself and ensure your precious fur babies are provided for. There are some organizations that specialize in taking in pets of deceased owners. However, the same scenarios could arise with a shelter.
  • No, you can’t take your pet with you. Requesting for your pet to be euthanized when you die is not fair to your pet and is frankly selfish. Your pet has a right to his or her life, whether that’s with or without you. Even if you put this clause in your will, it will be overruled if your pet is healthy.
  • Consider a trust or power of attorney for your pet. The probate and will process in this country takes time, which could leave your pet’s care in limbo. You can avoid this with a trust or a power of attorney. Powers of attorney are great in the event you become incapacitated because your will won’t kick into effect until your formal passing. This can ensure your pet’s care is as seamless as possible.

We all hope (in the sense that it’s inevitable) that our pets die before us so we don’t leave them. This is especially true if you have a dog, cat, or even horse who is extremely attached to you and would grieve your passing. However, life is not guaranteed and since none of us know when we’ll pass from this world, it’s important to be prepared.


Dolan Funeral Home in Chelmsford has been caring for your deceased loved one for decades. We provide the best funeral home services, including prearrangement services, which can include help with your pet’s care. We even now offer prearrangement services online, where you can fill out your information, and we’ll be in contact soon. As a full-service funeral home in the greater Lowell area, we offer cremation and burial services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We work with other funeral homes in case we need to transport the remains of your loved one elsewhere and vice versa. If you are donating your body to science, we help with that as well. Our mission is to handle all of the aftermath of your loved one’s funeral plans so you can concentrate on the grieving process.

We now offer catering for funeral receptions so you don’t have to worry about food during this trying time. From placing the obituary and handling your flower donations to coordinating with pastors and churches, Dolan Funeral Home proudly serves not only Chelmsford, but also the greater Lowell and southern New Hampshire regions, including Tyngsboro, Westford, Dunstable, Dracut, Lowell, MA, and Hudson, NH. Contact us today with any questions you may have!

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Dolan Funeral Home serves greater Lowell and southern New Hampshire, including Chelmsford, N. Chelmsford, Tyngsboro, Westford, Dunstable, Dracut, Lowell, MA, Nashua, Windham, Hudson, NH.

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