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Here’s Why You Need to Have a Living Will for Your Pets

Here’s Why You Need to Have a Living Will for Your Pets


Do you have a living will (also called an advance healthcare directive) for yourself? Medical experts recommend that we all should have one, in case something happens and we’re unable to make--or communicate--decisions about what medical treatments we do or don’t want. Makes sense for people, but what about our dogs and cats? You might be surprised to learn that veterinary professionals believe in living wills for pets, too. Here’s why…



When something happens to your pet

You’re away from home and can’t be reached when something happens to your dog or cat while in the care of others. Your pet gets rushed to the veterinary ER and no one has any idea what medical treatments you do or don’t want done to your pet. You can write a living will for each of your pets that covers resuscitation orders including: intubation for a ventilator, CPR, feeding tube, drugs, blood transfusion, and surgery.

Critical care and emergency veterinarian Dr. Justine Lee provides a great example of a living will you can use for your pets. You can say whether or not you approve life-saving care and how much you are willing to spend. You can also authorize euthanasia if your pet is in severe pain or if the chance for recovery is poor. Make copies for your pet sitter, boarding facility, doggie day care provider, veterinarian, and also close friends and family…so that everyone involved in your pet’s care understands your wishes.



When something happens to you

As with young children, it’s a good idea to make decisions about who will care for your pets in case something happens to you. Have you thought about which friend or family member you would want to care for your animals? Do they even know you want them to take your pets if something happens to you? Take a moment to think about it, talk to your preferred caregiver, and write your decisions down. You can even download an advance healthcare directive form, fill one out for each pet, keep the original in a safe place, and give a copy to your chosen pet caregiver. Check out one good example HERE.


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