3 Reasons Why a Dog Health Journal is Essential
Have you ever kept a journal?
Even though I am a blogger, and I do love writing, I have never kept a personal journal. It just seems like they always get used against people in movies, and potentially in real life. However, a health journal is completely different, and one that’s for your dog can have some serious benefits and potentially help you save money.
Here are some benefits of keeping a health journal for your dog:
It Makes It Easier to Discover Chronic Diseases
For example, allergies. Inhaled allergies are a long-term issue for many pets. Often, pet parents don’t realize that their pets are itchy from March-June every year. Once, they realize that the itchy skin and ear infections recur seasonally, they can better prepare and treat the symptomatic issues.
Knowing Can Save You Money
Let’s use the above example of inhaled allergies. If you knew that your dog would start suffering from allergy symptoms in the month of March, you could start preparing and use natural remedies in February. With veterinary recommendation, you may even be able to start giving them medication for their allergies before their symptoms get out of control. If you take these steps instead of waiting for symptoms, like hot spots, to appear, you will save yourself an additional trip to the vet and the cost of treating the symptoms.
You Can Advocate for Your Dog’s Health
In the event of an emergency, your dog's health journal can provide valuable information for your emergency veterinarian. Often, when an emergency occurs, veterinarians will not wait for health records to be sent from the general practice. However, it is important for them to know if your pet has ever had any issues under anesthesia. Keeping track of information throughout your dog’s life can come in handy when medical records aren’t available. Learn more about being an advocate for your dog.
What should you document in your dog’s health journal?
This health journal will serve as more than just a vaccination record. Here is a list of things that might come in handy to have on record:
Keep track of your dog’s weight. I highly encourage you to stop in for weight checks at your veterinarian’s office. Start with bi-annual weight checks in the early ages, and increase to quarterly weight checks once your dog becomes a senior. Changes in weight can be huge health indicators if your dog hasn’t experienced any lifestyle changes. As a bonus, a trip to the vet’s office without any shots or trips to the treatment area serves as positive reinforcement for your dog for future veterinary visits.
Make note of any surgeries or procedures your dog has had throughout his or her life. Additionally, take the time to write down how they recovered and what the struggles were in their recovery process. Lastly, jot down any specifics your veterinarian mentions postoperatively. For example, did your dog seem to be too sedated and need extra IV fluids during recovery? If so, your veterinarian might suggest using a different preoperative sedation next time. While this information is, of course, marked down in their medical record, it is always a good idea if you have this information with you just in case (see #3 above).
For example, did your dog have a decrease in energy recently? Or did your dog vomit the other day? Take a quick moment to make a note of that in your dog’s health journal. Although these incidences might not seem that important, they can serve as very useful information for your veterinarian in the future, and it’s hard to remember everything when your dog is sick, and you are scared and stressed.
I highly recommend using a scale to document your dog’s allergies. For example, use a 1 if your dog isn’t itchy at all and a 10 for super-itchy-and-hardly-does-anything-else. Using a scale gives you a frame of reference to what is a normal level of itchiness for them and when their allergies have lead to excessive itchiness.
Changes in diets and treats. Keeping track of brands and labels can be helpful when you hear of recalls, and can also allow your veterinarian to look up ingredients if they ever need them as a reference. Read more about nutrition and "nutrigenomics".
Medications & Supplements
Names of medications and supplements can be difficult to remember on the spot, having this information, however, can be key to diagnosis and further treatment if your dog needs to visit the vet hospital.
Not only should you keep track of when they have had their vaccines, but also if you opt out of any vaccines and why. For example, most people don’t know that during their puppy visit they decided not to move forward with vaccinating for Lyme Disease. Additionally, they don’t remember WHY they didn’t move forward with it. However, a quick note stating “Lyme Disease - No exposure in this area” would be enough reference to make an informed decision about adding the Lyme vaccine if you move, or because you have experienced a lifestyle change.
Pet Insurance Claims
Be sure to write down when you send in claims to your pet insurance company so that you can ensure you received your funds and have a reference for any future claims. For example, my deductible for Rooney’s pet insurance is by incident. So if I reach my deductible in one claim, and he has the same issue a year later, I receive 90% of my funds back. I protect myself financially by keeping all of my claims on record.
While your dog’s health journal can be written anywhere, I suggest a folder/binder/notebook that holds all information pertaining your dog’s health!
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