Vacation ‘To Do’ List

As the saying goes “Emergencies happen when you least expect it.” What do we do when this happens?

When families are planning a vacation and leaving their pet behind emergencies are the furthest thing from their mind.  Pet owners arrange for the pet sitter, kennels, food, medications and usually an emergency contact number…..not for an emergency situation.

The majority of the time emergencies do not happen. However, there is always that one time and then what? Who makes those crucial and often difficult decisions for your beloved pet?

These emergencies can vary from being non-life-threatening to potential death. Emergencies can also happen at any hour of the day or night and can be as simple as an ear infection or as critical as being hit by a car….have you prepared for your pets care?

In the veterinary profession, it is extremely difficult when we do not have clear and accurate authorization from the owner because owners are unable to be contacted.  This is one of the biggest challenges, especially in a 24-hour practice because lifesaving treatment can be delayed if the correct measures have not been put in place.  Not only is this devastating to the veterinary team who cannot treat and/or save a life, but once the families are contacted it could be too late.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Alert your veterinarian – inform them of the dates and times you will be away and give your consent to treatment
  • Have Microchip/Collars/ID Tags on your pet
  • Decide who is allowed to make medical decisions for your pet if it is not your vet
  • Leave clear and exact instructions for his/her care
  • Alert family members
  • Make and leave a list of emergency contact numbers and emails
  • Have a credit card number on file at your veterinarian’s office or make arrangements with a family member
  • Prepare a signed Letter/Document of consent for treatment


Written by Lee Ann Johnson, RVT