How to Make an Emergency Pet Care Plan


Creating an end-of-life plan can be one of the best decisions you make—not just for yourself, but for your loved ones as well. Have a pet? If so, then one aspect of end-of-life planning you won't want to overlook is having an emergency pet-care plan. After all, if something were to happen to you, your pet's needs will not change. Your dog will still need to take potty breaks and be fed. Your cat will still need snuggles and litter box scooping.

In the event of your untimely passing, a pet-care plan will be tremendously helpful to your loved ones or pre-determined pet guardian. Not sure where to begin? We've got some suggestions.

Establish a Pet-Care Fund

Taking on the responsibility of caring for a pet unexpectedly can be expensive, so you might also consider setting up an emergency pet-care fund to ease the transition. This can cover the basic costs of caring for your pet for the first year, including expenses related to food and treats, toys, vet visits, medications, and anything else you can think of. The person who ends up caring for your pet will appreciate having these costs covered.

You can designate these funds in a will to your future pet owner. This fund will also be useful to you if you outlive your pet. Think of this as a separate emergency fund for unexpected pet expenses like veterinarian bills. If you deplete the fund in an emergency, build it back up for the future.

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Decide Who Will Care For Your Pet

It may be difficult to imagine anybody else caring for your pet. After all, your pet is a part of your family—and you may have even raised your furry, feathered, or scaly friend since they were babies. Still, it's important to consider who you'd trust to care for your pet in the event of your passing. Do you have a family or friend who is also an animal lover in your life? If so, maybe he or she would be willing to care for your pet if something were to happen.

Of course, you shouldn't make assumptions. It's always a good idea to sit down and ask a friend or loved one if they'd be comfortable with taking over care of your pet before you designate them as your pet guardian in your end-of-life plan. Life changes. People get pets of their own and make other commitments. For this reason, it’s also wise to identify a backup option.

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Create a Detailed Pet Care Document

Once you have someone you know you can trust to care for your pet, it's time to draw up a detailed document that he or she can refer to as needed. This document should have all the information needed to continue caring for your pet in the best way possible.

We recommend creating a Word or Google document with the following information. Pen and paper work, too.

  • Health and veterinarian information
    Whoever you choose to take over care of your pet can obtain detailed records from your vet, so you don’t need to provide copious health details in your plan. That said, if your pet has any severe allergies or requires daily medications, this is the place to record that critical information.

  • Food and treats
    What foods and brands are their mainstays? What are their favorite treats? How do they earn those treats? Do they ever get fed “people food?” Are there foods that don't agree with them?

  • Personal care schedule
    Do you bathe your pet? Is there a shampoo they like, and just as importantly, is there a product they have had a bad reaction to in the past? Is there a grooming habit they are used to? How do you handle dental care? You'll also want to share any bathroom routine your pet may be used to.

  • Habits and exercise
    How often does the pet get walked or are they let loose in the backyard? What types of toys and leashes do they use? Do they prefer to lie in a window sill or sit in front of a heater vent? If the new owner can facilitate some of these habits it could make the transition more comfortable for your pet.

  • Expected behaviors
    Every pet has a set of behaviors owners can count on. It may be barking at the knock of a door, running to the car when it starts or standing at the back door when it needs to go outside. How does your pet react in a thunderstorm or at the sound of fireworks? Do they require a muzzle in public? If your pet shows aggression to strangers or children, make sure this is noted. All of this can be very helpful to the person who will be providing care for your pet. 

  • Your pet's “story”
    It may not be critical data, but it can be helpful for whoever will be caring for your pet to more fully understand their background and bio. Include the pet's birthdate (if known), how the pet was acquired and why he or she got their name. These little personal details can help in the bonding process between the new owner and your pet.

  • Microchip information (if they have one)
    This will be helpful in tracking down your pet if they go missing from their new home.

  • Pet insurance information (if you have it)
    Some pet insurance plans do have options to transfer policies if the owner dies. Check with your insurer to find out what is involved so you can make sure the new owner would understand their options.

As you're drawing up this document, it can be helpful to think about the types of things you'd include if you were going on an extended vacation and had a pet-sitter coming by your house. Does your dog need to take daily medication for a certain medical condition? Does your cat like having her belly scratched or is that area strictly off-limits? These are all details your pet's caregiver will want to know.

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Make Sure Your Document Will be Found

Once you've drawn up your pet care document, upload it to your free Cake account for safekeeping. You can always update it as needed and share it with your designated caregiver for their reference.

These are just a few of the most important factors to consider when creating a pet-care plan in case of an emergency. By designating someone to care for your pet, establishing a pet-care fund, and creating a detailed document of need-to-know information, you can make sure your beloved pet is cared for no matter what happens in life.


  1. Weliver, David. "The Annual Cost of Pet Ownership: Can You Afford a Furry Friend?" Money Under 30. September 21, 2017.

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