Medical records have undergone a pretty major overhaul in recent years. Everything is moving toward digital, which helps you keep track of important information. But what about your pet records?
Your veterinarian will have copies of shots, illnesses, treatments and procedures, but you need a copy, too. That will help ensure the health and safety of your dog or cat, in the same that your medical records protect you. But that’s only part of it.
Here’s the documentation you should be saving:
Different Types of Identification
These days, most adopted pets will be microchipped before you even bring them home. If your dog or cat is ever lost, a quick scan by a vet will identify you as the adoptive owner. If your pet isn’t microchipped, it’s a great idea to do so. It can mean the difference between getting your beloved pet back, or never seeing them again. You should get a document showing proof of the procedure.
It’s also smart to keep lots of photos of your pet throughout her life. She won’t look the same at age 5 or 10, as she did when she was a year old. Recent photos can help others in your neighborhood identify her if she gets lost.
Photos in Your Pet Records Prove Ownership
Most of us who have beloved furry friends don’t think about them as possessions. But according to the laws in most states, pets are considered personal property. You should always keep proof that you “own” your pet. (Read: Pets Provide Love All Year Long)
If you adopted any of your precious family members from a shelter, you’ll have adoption paperwork to keep. If you bought her from a breeder, then you should have a contract or bill of sale. You should also have a bill of sale if you found her at a pet store.
Health and Medical Pet Records
Keeping up with your pet’s health records is as important as keeping your own. Vaccinations are high on the list of what you’ll need, and rabies shots are required nearly everywhere. Some states or towns issue a certificate, some issue a tag for her collar, and some do both.
If your dog or cat has allergies, medical records will reveal that. If you need to switch veterinarians, having her health history handy will avoid administering medication that she can’t tolerate. Food allergies are important to keep, for the same reason, as are acute or chronic illnesses. (Read: Landscaping: Toxic to Pets?)
If she’s spayed (or he’s neutered), keep a copy of that as well. Some vets and shelters tattoo the tummy of pets that have been spayed or neutered. If your furry friend has a tattoo, a photo of it should also go in the record. Any surgical procedure or injury should also be documented in her file.
Miscellaneous Pet Records
If your location requires a license, keep a copy along with all your other pet records. And if you have medical insurance for her, the policy should also stay with her records.
You know your pet better than anyone. So as a final measure of protection, it’s a good idea to draft a short essay about her life and experiences, her personality, habits, likes and dislikes, and any sort of training that she might have had.
As unfortunate as it sounds, sometimes pets survive their adoptive parents. Part of taking care of her also means giving her the best chance at a new life with a new owner, should the worst happen. And reading about her in your words would help her new owner, and help lessen the trauma of moving to a strange home. If you haven’t done so, add a provision for her care into your will and make note of it in her file.
Pets are a constant source of unconditional love and companionship. Even the most aloof cat is as much a part of the family as a dog that greets you at the door with excitement. Their health and safety depends on you, and keeping good pet records is part of that care.
Do you keep a file for your pets? If you have more ideas on what should be kept, we’d love to hear them!