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Top tips – contingency planning when you have to leave your dog behind

Life is unpredictable. If we could bring our dogs everywhere, all the time, it would be wonderful. But sometimes, it’s not feasible, for instance, long term care of a distant loved one, a book tour, or a once in a lifetime chance to travel around the world. Of course you will choose a reliable caretaker, and provide them with feeding instructions, emergency and vet contact information.

But what about contingency planning? Consider these tips.

1.   Map the route to the Emergency Clinic 

Along with leaving your dog’s medical records and vet information, you need to alert the caretaker as to the location of the nearest animal hospital in case of emergency. Include a map and driving directions, and a credit card number for payment. In many emergencies minutes count – don’t make your caretaker waste them frantically searching for this information.

2.  Arrange Safe Transport 

Whether your dog needs to go to the emergency room or to the dog park, you need to be sure that your caretaker can safely transport him there. If your dog is crated in the car, be sure your caretaker,s car can accommodate one. 

3.  Food No-Nos

Most dog people know the list of toxic foods to pets. Dog lovers including non dog owning caretakers or guests may not. Be sure to leave this list of foods never to feed:

chocolate, raisins, onions

If your dog does not regularly eat or chew bones, be sure you notify your caretaker of this as well. Not all dogs do well with bones.

4. Positive ID 

Surely your dog is microchipped and has tags. But you’ll be in Toledo and your dog is in Manhattan. Get him a new temporary tag with your caretakers phone number and your cell number. (I suggest all owners have both home and cell numbers on the tag – how can someone reach you to say they’ve located your dog if you’re out looking?)

Leave the phone number number and maps to local shelters .  Find Toto  ( is an excellent resource providing an amber alert service for missing pets. They offer weekend hours, which most animal control officers and shelters do not.

5. The Backup plan

Stuff happens. If your caretaker has an emergency of her own, you need to have a back up plan. You need to map out a system for notification and transfer of your pet and all of the pet’s belongings and records to another caretaker or kennel. 

5. In case of Death

Death is unpredictable. We don’t like to think about it, for ourselves or our pets. But consider what you want your caretaker to do in the unlikely but possible event of your pet’s death during your absence. Also, whether you are traveling or not, you need to make arrangements for care of your pets if you are incapacitated or die yourself. It’s a difficult endeavor for many people, but knowing that your pet will be taken care of  in the way that you would want them to be provides a great source of comfort.

Next: How to help your dog prepare for your absence

Looking for holistic ways to keep your pet happy and healthy? Try Reiki, flower essences or essential oils. Don’t know where to start? Contact me! Thanks for reading and please  feel free to share this post or sign up for my newsletter. Thanks for reading!

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Posted in Action!, At home with dogs, Behavior, canine, common sense, home experiments, wellness.

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