GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — When planning for a pet emergency, maintaining important documents might not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, it is extremely important to know what documentation you need in order to ensure your pet’s safety during an emergency. From widespread natural disasters to unexpected accidents on vacations with pets, the experts at BluePearl Veterinary Partners recommend that you keep the following documents on hand for your furry companion:

Contact information for primary vet: In emergencies, the veterinarian treating your pet may need to contact the primary veterinarian for more information. Details as simple as the primary veterinarian’s name or location can often be difficult to remember during the stress of an emergency, so a business card or handwritten note with this information is a helpful addition to your pet’s emergency file.

Vaccine history: Keep vaccine records in your pet’s emergency file. Information about a pet’s current vaccinations can help both emergency and primary veterinarians diagnose an illness. Also, proof of vaccination is required at most kennels and boarding facilities. Keeping this proof in your emergency file could save you a lot of money because the kennel would most likely require your pet to receive the vaccinations again if you cannot provide your vaccine records.

Pet emergencies can include weather disasters, such as hurricanes or tornadoes.

Latest exam records: Ask your primary veterinarian for a copy of your pet’s latest exam records (not to be confused with the invoice) for your pet’s emergency file. These exam records contain information about age, breed, recent illnesses, monthly medications and other important notes from your veterinarian. Emergency veterinarians benefit from these records because they provide a recent snapshot of your pet’s overall health.

Medical records detailing any chronic illness or allergies: For pets who suffer from a chronic illness, medical records detailing the pet’s condition are perhaps the most important documents in an emergency file. Chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, allergies and arthritis, can often affect the course of action taken by a veterinarian in an emergency. If you own a pet with a chronic illness, you are encouraged to contact your primary veterinarian for a detailed medical record to keep on hand.

Microchip registration: Make sure your pet is microchipped. The chip serves as an internal, secure form of identification that cannot become damaged or missing. Though microchips are a dependable way to make sure pets are identified, many pet owners don’t realize the chip will only serve its purpose when it is up-to-date with its registration. When the chip is not registered according to the schedule provided by the microchip company, the contact information will no longer be available when scanned. We encourage you to keep a copy of the microchip number, latest registration information and your provided contact information in your pet’s emergency file.

Printed photo: It is an excellent idea to keep a printed photo of your pet in the emergency file. It should be a clear, close-up photo that shows any distinguishing marks. Make sure to laminate it to make it water-proof. A physical copy of the photo is most reliable, because your cell phones or other devices could become damaged or inoperable in an emergency.

Rabies certificate: Although rabies is rare in pets, you may be asked to produce a rabies certificate if the emergency veterinarian detects signs of this dangerous virus.

Original prescription bottles: If your pet regularly takes prescription medication, the emergency veterinarian will usually need to know the exact name and dosage. The best place to find these details is directly on the prescription bottle. Prescription bottles with the most current medication information should be kept alongside your pet’s emergency file.

Bring Containers: In the event your pet is exposed to toxins, poisons or medications be sure to bring those containers with you to the veterinarian. This information can aid in the diagnosis and treatment of your pet.

For more information on pet safety, please contact your primary veterinarian. In the event of a medical pet emergency, please contact your closest emergency animal hospital. For information on preparing a disaster supply kit for your pets, please visit our disaster planning blog post.

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