Think you’re a smart and savvy pet owner? If you’re confident enough to answer in the affirmative, then you’re probably not wrong.

But that doesn’t mean that you have it all sussed out. Even the most educated and diligent among us manage to muck things up, and when we do, it’s usually the simplest ways in which we err.

Consider these six simple mistakes that plenty of well-meaning, otherwise conscientious pet owners make:

They Don't Keep Good Medical Records at Home

We don’t expect you to have your pet's entire medical history on hand, but keeping the basics is crucial in the event of any emergency. This includes your pet's past and current diagnoses and treatment regimens, a list of procedures that she’s undergone, possible allergies or intolerances and any drugs that she’s taken in the past or is currently taking.

Imagine showing up at the ER at 3 a.m. and trying desperately to recall things that you really should have printed out ahead of time or — better yet — included in one of those cool smartphone apps that help you keep track of your pet's health care info.

I like Nebulous for this because it automatically synchronizes with the Dropbox app so that you can transfer your data to your ER vet’s computer in seconds.

They Don’t Log Symptoms and Illnesses for Their Vets

Does your pet have a chronic intermittent disease, like seizures, feline stomatitis or inflammatory bowel disease? Then you should be keeping track of her symptoms, noting their severity and the dates of occurrence. Without this crucial data, your vet is less equipped to optimize your pet’s treatment regimen.

They Don’t ID Pets Properly

Even I used to be guilty of this — until one escape artist who goes by the name of Gaston came into my life. Now I have a dog who sports a tag, a microchip and a GPS tracking device (yes, really). It's mentally soothing to see that little message on my iPhone telling me that Gaston is near the GPS tracker’s base station.

They Forget to Bring Checklists to Vet Visits

Checklists and protocols are important tools that help veterinarians and physicians better manage their patients’ health care.

You wouldn’t go to the supermarket without a shopping list, right? OK, maybe you would, but you probably shouldn’t if you don’t want to forget things or end up with lots of extraneous munchies.

The same kinds of things happen when you forget your vet visit list.

You won’t end up with a bunch of black bean-flavored tortilla chips, but you might forget to ask about the safety profile of a new product or take home heartworm preventive you already have gobs of at home.

They Don’t Plan in Advance for an Emergency

Pet owners who keep a written plan for sudden evacuations are far better prepped for an emergency situation than most — but the truth is that few owners are as organized as this.

Here in hurricane-prone South Florida, we are continually forced to plan for the worst, which means that we have a leg up on most pet owners. But as those who’ve suffered through emergencies that don’t allow for as much pre-planning will attest — think earthquakes, tornadoes, fires, flash floods and mudslides — no one is immune to the need for solid planning if they’re to prove their mettle as responsible pet owners.

They Don’t Set Up Reminders for Themselves

If you don’t have a smartphone, you can be somewhat forgiven for failing to set up reminders for your pets’ routine vet visits and monthly preventive medications — unless your brain is somehow wired to remember everything without prompting.

Me? I have to program two alerts for each reminder.

I may be almost as smart and savvy a pet owner as you, but as a card-carrying scatterbrainiac whose unrelentingly scrambled schedule keeps her constantly guessing which day of the week it is, I could use a little improvement. Who among us can claim otherwise?


Check out more opinion pieces on Vetstreet.