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Rehoming your pet

If you’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness you may be worried about what will happen to your pet if you’re no longer able to care for it. This information can help you plan for your pet’s future. It may also be helpful for family and friends who need to find a new home for a loved one’s pet.

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Planning for your pet’s future without you may make you feel sad, but it can also be reassuring to know that you have made the best arrangements for them.

What type of home does your pet need?

Knowing what your pet needs can help you to decide on the best home for them. Ask yourself what’s important for your pet:

  • Is your cat used to going outside a lot?
  • How much exercise does your dog need?
  • Is your pet used to children and a busy house or would they be happier in a calmer environment?
  • Could your pet cope with sharing space with other animals?
  • Do they have any medical conditions that have to be treated regularly or paid for?

It can help to make a list of requirements for your pet. You could ask a friend, relative or nurse to help you do this. Decide which things on your list are essential and which would just be nice to have. You might decide that all the items are essential.

Perhaps a friend or relative would like to look after your pet. If there’s someone else you know and trust who you think would be able to provide a good new home for your pet, you may want to ask them if they can help.

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Rehoming your pet through an organisation

If your family and friends are unable to look after your pet, the following organisations can rehome pets with loving and responsible new owners:

You can also get help and advice from:

Your vet can also give you advice.

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When to rehome your pet

If you’re no longer able to look after your pet on your own, your family and friends might be able to help. If you’re staying in a hospice, your pet might still be allowed to visit. You could also try a dog-walking service if you can’t go out.

Rehoming your pet can be extremely upsetting but remember that you’re making a brave decision, because you care about your pet and want what’s best for them.

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Information about your pet


It can help to start gathering information about your pet and keeping it in a safe place so that you, or a friend or relative have everything to hand when it’s needed.

This could include your pet’s vet records, details of when they were neutered, the date of their last vaccinations and any medicine they’ve been prescribed.

If they’ve been microchipped, write down their microchip number and instructions on how to update the details. Also include details of any pet insurance you’ve taken out.

You could also write down some notes about your pet’s preferred food and what they like doing, like fetching a ball or chasing string.

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Toys, bowls and blanket

If you have to rehome your pet you may want to ensure that they have the following items:

  • any favourite toys
  • feeding bowls
  • cages
  • collars
  • a favourite blanket or item of clothing that smells of you
  • their basket
  • a supply of their usual food

These will help them to adapt to their new surroundings.

If you’re rehoming your pet through an organisation, check that it’s able to take your pet’s belongings.

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External websites


This page is for general information only. It's not intended to replace any advice from health or social care professionals. We suggest that you consult with a qualified professional about your individual circumstances. Read more about how our information is created and how it's used.

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