If you tend to accumulate stuff, it’s likely your pet will as well! One side benefit of being an organized pet lover means that anything that is not supposed to be a pet toy (like shoes) stays out of a pet’s reach. Keeping surfaces in your home clear of anything small and valuable (like jewelry) means that jumping pets don’t eat, play with or hide precious objects.
If you live in a smaller home, consider less used spaces like under the stairs, in an attic, basement or closet to store surplus supplies. Vertical space on the walls can provide a home for things that would otherwise end up in a pile on the floor. The following tips and suggestions should help you be a better steward AND companion to your friends, whether they have feet, paws, wings, scales or fins!
HOW MUCH STUFF DOES YOUR PET NEED?
Even before we talk about HOW to organize your pet’s stuff, let’s look at how much is enough when it comes to your pet’s belongings. Remember that, with few exceptions, it will fall to you to keep these things organized. How much time do you want to spend putting toys and other things away? Ask yourself that the next time you see something so adorable you think you and Fluffy can’t live without it.
FOLDER OF IMPORTANT PET DOCUMENTS
Create a folder that contains all vet, health and immunization records. Include a photocopy and/or the number on any rabies tags, and any other important papers and receipts. Take this folder with you whenever you visit the vet or board your animal. If you don’t have a complete file, ask your vet for copies of any missing information.
If you tend to worry or like to be prepared for anything, include pre-printed emergency flyers in your folder. These should include your pet’s name, your contact information, and photos of your pet from different angles.
A list of hotels in and around your immediate area that allows pets is another useful tool—better to have it handy than to scramble when an emergency occurs.
ADDRESS BOOK ENTRIES
Create an address book entry for your vet, including your vet’s emergency phone number. Make sure the record also includes the address of your vet’s emergency room as well as all microchip and rabies information.
If your pet is microchipped, include the name and contact information of the company and microchip number in your folder. Register the microchip with the company and regularly update your information, especially if you relocate. If you do move, check with your new vet to see if local shelters can read your pet’s current microchip.
NOTE: microchips can move around under the skin. Periodically, have your vet scan for the chip to ensure it hasn’t moved.
OTHERS CARING FOR YOUR PET
Create a guide for anyone caring your pet that includes all necessary information, such as your vet's contact information, amounts and schedules for feedings and medicine, and what your pet likes to do for fun and doesn’t enjoy. No need for someone to wonder why Fido doesn’t want to go outside when it’s raining even if she keeps pacing by the back door. The guide should also include a current medical treatment release form. This form enables someone to make medical decisions on behalf of your pet if you can’t be reached. A first aid book for your pet is also useful. It details what requires a vet’s attention and how quickly to see the vet, as well as what you can take care of at home.
Take pictures of your pet from many different angles. Be sure to document any unique pattern markings and scars. It’s useful to have these images in both printed and digital format.
Keep them in the folder mentioned above as well as on your phone. If you even need to identify your pet, these pics will come in handy.
A thumb drive including the above pics and scans of all the documents in your folder is an excellent thing to keep on your keychain, in your glovebox and at a neighbor’s home. Having your records at your fingertips makes the unexpected much easier to deal with.
SUPPLIES, INCLUDING MEDICATION
To avoid confusion, never store a pet’s medication with your own. Establish a secure home for all your pet’s special need items, including medication, toothpaste, flea and tick repellents, shampoo and grooming tools.
Schedule reminders on your calendar when vaccines and annual check-ups are due. Don’t waste time and money by forgetting an essential vaccine or appointment.
Establish a low basket or other container on the floor or low shelf for all the toys to live in. Your pets will know where to find what they’re looking for and you’ll only have one place to return everything when it’s time for bed.
If you have clothes to help keep your pet warm in winter months, you need a home for them that ISN’T the toy basket. These things should be in a drawer, bin or on a hanger out of reach to anything with more than two legs.
Breakaway collars are useful for any pet so they don’t accidentally choke himself/herself. They are designed so that the clasp opens if the animal gets caught on something. They are especially helpful for outdoor cats or those who tend to climb.
A sealed container in your pantry will keep pets out and their food handy. If you don’t go through dry food rapidly, store it in the bag it came in, inside an airtight container. Otherwise it can get rancid and spoil new food it’s combined with. Use glass and metal containers rather than plastic—they can leech.
The kitchen is often warm and moist, so it’s not the best place to store food. Dry food is best when used within 6 weeks.
Open canned food will spoil after 3 days in the refrigerator. Store unopened canned food in your pantry or a cool place, and regardless of how cheap it is, do not buy dry food if the bag is torn.
Everyone likes to eat when they’re hungry and when they expect it. So it’s best to feed your pets on a schedule.
Leashes and any collars should be near the exit to your home. Likewise poop bags. A fanny pack or shoulder bag stocked with treats, poop bags, and a portable water bowl.
Include the contact information for local shelters and animal control in your address book.Even indoor pets should have a collar with current identification.
- Lost dogs.
- Lost cats.
- Pets in general.
A little preparation upfront ensures your happiness and the safety and well-being of your pet as well!
Organizer guru Andrew Mellen