Retiring soon? 'Paws' and think about this before getting a pet

Owning a pet in your golden years has been linked to a wealth of health benefits, from reducing stress to increasing exercise.

But between walking, grooming and trips to the vet, being a caregiver to a furry friend requires a high level of commitment. When considering the addition of a fur-friend, retirees often don't realize how the decision can impact plans to travel, downsize their home, or who will care for the pet if something happens to them.  If you’re retired – or retirement is on the horizon – and thinking of getting a pet, paws and consider these P-E-T-S tips, and transition into a retirement that both you and your furry friend can enjoy.

P for Physical Activity

Dogs need regular walks, but certain breeds require additional exercise. If you become physically unable to fulfil the exercise needs of your pet, it’s critical that you have a plan in place so your dog gets the exercise it requires. Whether hiring a local dog walker, sending your dog to daycare, or enlisting the help of relatives, having a plan in place ahead of time will ensure a smooth transition.   

E for Estate Planning

Some animals can live for up to 20 years.  In the event that your pet lives longer than you, you’ll need to consider establishing a beneficiary in your will who can care for the pet once you’ve passed away. You can leave a clause within your will that designates a certain amount of money to this person – when deciding the cost, consider both the expected and unexpected costs of pet care in the future. If you don’t designate a beneficiary to become the primary caregiver for your pet, it may end up without a home after you pass.  

T for Travel

Planning on being a snowbird? If you prefer to travel with your pet, some countries require animal visas, vaccinations and special documentation. Be sure to research the pet importation requirements for your destination before you go, as regulations differ between countries. 

S for Shelter

If you need to downsize to a condo or are planning to move into a retirement facility, consider the restrictions and pet policies as these may limit your options.  

It's impossible to put a price tag on the joy and potential health benefits a pet can provide, but the more informed you are before making a decision, the better off and  happier both you and your furry friend will be.