Keeping Pet Records While On the Go

When traveling you might need to show proof of your dog’s vaccinations.

I have no problem with complying with these requests, but for a while I couldn’t figure out the best way to do it. Initially I just copied the paper work and stuck the copies in the car’s glove box. Then I made duplicate copies and put the second copy in the RV so I had them there, too. Then, when traveling with four dogs, I decided to make a binder.

All of these paper copies were clumsy, though, and seemed wasteful. I wanted something better.

Smart Phone Apps

When smart phones first became a thing, your only option was to take a memo or make a document to store the information. But today there are actual apps made for keeping animal records handy.

Although it can be useful if your pet has some chronic health issues or you travel a lot, you’ll probably have more information for your pet than you may ever need.

Camera to the Rescue

If you can’t find an app which does all you want it to, just use the camera on your phone! Take photos of vaccination and license paperwork, the license tags, and and anything else which might be useful. Consider adding a photo of each medication your pet might be taking, including flea, tick, and heartworm medications. Then create an album for each of your pets on your phone.

Tips for Taking Photos

Since the primary goal here is to have information available about your dog, the photos need to be clear and readable. A fuzzy, warped photo won’t work.

Make sure the paper is flat and all creases have been smoothed out. Place the paper on a clean, uncluttered surface. A kitchen counter could work, as could the surface of your desk. Keeping in mind a contrasting color works best. A wooden desk or darker (than the paper) counter will make the paper stand out more.

Make sure you have bright light. Don’t count on the phone’s camera flash as that can leave a blank bright spot that could potentially block information.

Take the photo from directly above the paper. If you take the photo from one side, above and at an angle, part of the paper will be in focus while the rest will be fuzzy. Have the paper fill most of the photo frame with just an edge of the desk or counter showing. If you have the paper filling the entire photo frame, you could potentially lose information when the photo file is saved.

Take one photo, save it, then open it again and see what it looks like. Then make adjustments and try again. If you’ve ever used mobile banking, you know the first few times you tried it you have to retake the photo of the check a couple of times.

Include More

Consider keeping an up to date face-on photo and a standing side photo of your dog. If it makes it easier, think you’re taking mugshots of your pooch. While your photo gallery might be full of photos of your dog already, having these easily identifiable photos will be helpful if you need to show them to any authorities.

Depending on you, your dog, and what the two of you do, you may want to add more information. For example if you compete in various dog sports, include photos of important information needed for entering competitions in this album. Registration paperwork, therapy dog certification, and sports organization memberships can all be stored here.

When Information is Needed

This past year, when checking in to a campground, the ranger asked for proof of my dogs’ rabies vaccination and I showed him the rabies certificate and license information on my phone, and that was enough. At the hotel in central California, the clerk asked for a copy of the shot records, so I emailed copies from my phone. Having this information stored and readily available in the flexibility of today’s smart phones makes doing things like this easy.

Meet the Author: Liz Palika

Liz Palika is a Certified Dog Trainer, Certified Animal Behavior Consultant, and the co-owner of Kindred Spirits Dog Training in Vista, CA. Liz is also an award-winning author and writer specializing in pets. She writes about cats, cat behavior and health, dogs, dog behavior and health, living with pets, and pet nutrition. Liz’s works have been recognized with many awards, but her most recent book, “Idiot’s Guides: Dog Training” (Penguin Books, 2014) recently won the Best Nonfiction book category in the San Diego Book Writing competition. Liz shares her home with two dogs; Bashir, an Australian Shepherd, and Bones, an English Shepherd. Three cats, Spock, Scottie, and Kirk, provide motivation for her articles about cats. And yes, she is a Star Trek fan. For more information go to

Puppy Training: Hands are Good Things
6 Tips for Getting Your Dog to Enjoy a Bath