Isn't my vet supposed to keep track of my pet health records?
Well, yes, and they do. But think about how much people move around today. Moving for jobs or family is common, and so then is changing veterinarians for your pet.
The actual full health records will be faxed upon request to your new vet. But what if you need to know the highlights before then? "I know he's allergic to one antibiotic, but I don't know which one..." is not much help to a fill-in or emergency vet if your dog experiences, say an ear infection, or your cat suffers a bladder infection, during or shortly after your move.
What information should I keep in my pet health records?
You want to keep basic, but important, information on your pet health record form, and you want to be able to find it when you need it!
We'll go through each of the sections in more detail, but basic information will include your pet's name, birth date, breed, sex, owner information (you!), contact information, current and past veterinarian contact information, vaccine history, and parasite history. If you have a pet who has health issues, then you also want to be able to know, quickly, what their problems are, what meds they are on, and if they are allergic to anything.
Anatomy of the Ideal Home Pet Health Medical Record
Sounds simple enough, right? And it is simple, but identification is more than just your pet's name. I want you to find something about your pet that is unique about your pet. This can be an unusual color marking or pattern, a tattoo, an unusual eye color, a microchip, etc.. That, in combination with the pets breed, sex and age will absolutely identify your pet. A photo of your pet on the record, especially showing this unique physical trait, may help with this too.
Pet health records are useful to have on hand for boarding and traveling purposes, and can help you keep your pet up to date as well. It's also usually one of the first questions asked if you need to take your pet to a new vet. Do know though,that your home record of vaccines may not be accepted as an official record for boarding or travel purposes. You would still be wise to get official vaccine certificates from your vet, to satisfy these requirements.
Keeping track of this helps you to know several things, that may be helpful over the course of time. For instance, if your pet keeps developing the same intestinal parasite problem, then:a. It's time to figure out why, or how to prevent repeated reinfection.b. Some intestinal parasites are transmissible to people, and are a risk to small children and the immunocompromised. It would be best to know if this was the case, so that precautions could be taken to prevent human exposure.
If your pet frequently develops diarrhea, but intestinal parasite tests are all negative, then a search for other causes of diarrhea should be undertaken.
Many parasites, both external and internal, will be more of a problem in certain geographic areas. Fleas have a different importance in Florida than they have in Colorado, for instance. Or, if you live in the North Eastern part of the US, then you should know about Lyme disease.
Infectious Disease Testing and History
This goes hand in hand with a Parasite History in pet health records. And indeed, you'll find that many infectious diseases also have a regional distribution, and are more of a problem in some areas than in others. See the Lyme Disease page for a great example of this.
Some are also transmitted by parasites, usually the external ones. Lyme disease is a good example of this too, as it is transmitted by ticks. Heartworm disease is another example, and is transmitted by mosquitoes. Such diseases will have both a seasonal time of importance, a time of year that you need to protect your pet, and geographic areas where protection will be more important.
Trends in weight change can be so important.... For instance, puppies and kittens will have a somewhat predictable growth rate, if they are normal. If they grow too slowly, suspicions arise as far as potential health problems that that pet may have, even at a very young age.
Likewise, weight loss in older pets (who are not on a weight loss regimen) can be a signal to begin looking for a problem. Conditions like kidney disease in cats are a great example of this.
Things like known drug allergies, a chronic and/or severe medical condition, and any medications that your pet needs should be prominently recorded and easily available for reference in your home pet health records. Sometimes this information is needed in a hurry! Examples might include seizures, diabetes,vaccine reactions, etc.
You never know when you're going to need to be able to contact your vets office. I once called another veterinarian whose patient was traveling, and under my care. He had unique insights into the patient and the client that helped tremendously with their situation. I was able to do that because that owner was carrying her vets contact info with her.
Or, maybe you need to have records transferred because you've moved.
At some point you'll need the contact information, so go ahead and write it down!
A Pet Health Records Form
So, are you convinced that this is something that you should do, for yourself, and for your pet? Good!
The snapshots that you have seen all along are from a form that I made, for you. You have two versions to choose from. There is a free download for either cats or dogs that has the basic information sections on it - Pet ID, Parasites, Vaccines, Weight, and Veterinarian Contact Information.
And, there is another more extended form that also includes the Alerts!, Infectious Diseases, and an extended Pet ID and Weight Sections. I am asking $1.99 for this version, to help with the cost of maintaining this website. The link will be available soon...
Both of these pet health records or forms are designed to be downloaded and then printed by you, and are supposed to be printed on the 2 sides of one sheet of heavier duty paper, if you've got it. You then fold it into a tri-fold brochure type record. I would recommend that you play with your printer for a little bit, so that you know how to orient your paper to print on the second side, right side up.
There is a space for a pet photo on the front of both of these forms. A paper copy of your pets' photo can be trimmed to fit into the space, and glued/taped/stapled there. If you have a scanner with your printer, then you could scan the whole opened page with the photo into your computer and re-print (in color), to create the image without the "edges". I am working on a way to do this for you, at a different donation price, but it is not all worked out yet.... :)
Page last updated 12/15/13.