When I was preparing for my new puppy last September, I thought I knew everything there was to know about dog parenthood. I had the treats, the training chops, the chew toys, the stuffies, and the best dog food. I had years of research and preparation under my belt. But I quickly realized there were multiple aspects of being a dog parent that I was wildly unprepared for – namely, the sheer amount of organization it requires.
Visits to the vet would end in confusion when I was not entirely sure of my puppy’s last vaccination date. Insurance claims would be up-ended when I could not find the printed invoice from my puppy’s vet visit. I had prepared for a puppy, but not for the paperwork!
I certainly could have used a list of important documents to keep close when I was a new puppy parent. It can be hard to differentiate what is fair game for your next origami project, and what will be important to have down the line. So without further ado, here are the top 10 documents for new dog owners. I keep mine in Savor's Pet Keepsake Vault, which I store the same place 24/7 so that I can always find them.
1. Adoption Papers
This one should come as a no brainer to some, but it can be easy to assume that all is final after you have adopted your new furry friend. Holding on to adoption papers can be important for potential legal reasons down the road, as well as fun perks that can be accessed now! When I went to sign my puppy up for training classes, I was told that the class was 20% off for all rescued dogs with documentation. If you went through a breeder, keeping the re-homing documents is still important in case of any legal issues that may arise. Get your agreement in writing and hold on to it!
2. Vaccination Schedule
This is a biggie. Just like with kids, puppies are often not allowed into certain classes/events without proof of vaccination. Proof of rabies vaccination is even required for a nail trim at your local Petco! Of course, holding on to your pet’s vaccination schedule is also important to ensure that all immunizations are up to date so that your pet remains healthy.
3. Insurance Paperwork
Yes, my dog has medical insurance. Yes, it is totally worth it. While I am fortunate enough to not have needed it yet, my insurance covers many common illnesses and accidents up to $10,000. I am definitely on a tighter budget, so I love that I will never have to worry about the crazy cost of emergency care if my dog needs it. If you choose to insure your pup, be sure to hold on to a copy of your insurance policy as well as any insurance claims. It will be a lifesaver when wondering if your dog’s next crazy antic is insured under your policy.
4. Vet Invoices
In addition to holding on to vaccination schedules, you should also hold on to vet invoices. As someone who has had to move this past year, I know that they can be a valuable resource when switching veterinarians. Not only are invoices a great way to keep track of past treatments, but they are also great when price comparing. If your last vet charged $50 for a urine sample, you may choose to question when your new vet charges you $90.
5. Lease Agreement
This one may seem out of place, but keeping a printed copy of your lease agreement is invaluable when you are a pet owner. Not only does it give written proof that your furry family member is a welcome resident, but it will also be necessary if you ever decide to adopt a sibling for your pup. Most reputable shelters and rescues will not adopt without written proof that your building is pet-friendly.
6. SOAP Notes
No, they have nothing to do with hygiene. These are the notes written by your vet, and they can be necessary for insurance claims. Most vets do not automatically give you the SOAP notes, so you will need to request them after your appointment. Even if you don’t have pet insurance, they can be great to refer back to, since they are detailed notes of all your vet’s observations and treatment recommendations.
7. Travel Documents
If your pup is going to accompany you on your travels, keeping track of airline documents is crucial. It can save you lots of time since most airlines consider completed documents valid for a year after they are approved.
This one may be tough to think about, but having a trust can help ensure your puppy remains well cared for if you are no longer around. I can’t imagine parting with my dog - she may as well be surgically attached to my leg at this point. Yet if the worst does happen and I am rendered unable to care for her, my trust designates who will care for her and gives detailed instructions for her care.
9. Pet License
Most counties require a pet license, so be sure to keep a copy handy. Your license can be used as proof of ownership, as well as a helpful way to find your puppy if they should go missing. Since oftentimes a city will require dogs to wear a license tag, your pup’s license number can help confirm their identity if they are found or brought to a shelter.
10. Microchip Papers
Speaking of your pet getting lost, having your dog microchipped is always a good idea. That way, even if your puppy finds its way to a different county or gets lost on vacation, they are able to be identified if brought a shelter or vet. A microchip is an incredible way to ensure your pet’s safety, and keeping microchip paperwork can help reunite you and your best bud if you two become separated.
A new puppy can be a bundle of joy, as well as a bundle of paperwork. It is a wonderful time, but remember that staying on top of things early on and organizing your new best friend’s documents can save you a ton of stress searching later. It is one thing to have all of your pup's important documents, but they don't do you any good if you aren't able to find them when you need to.=! Savor's Vault has been crucial to my scatterbrained self remaining organized and on top of everything. So go forth, new pet owners! Play, run, jump, train, and organize!