Managing Your Dog’s Care Plan: Taking an Active Role in Your Dog’s Treatment

Take an active role in your dogs treatment.

Managing Your Dog's Care Plan

I have an obsession with helping dog owners gain knowledge and empower them to be proactive in their dog’s health care. It must be the force behind what inevitably connected me to your blog author, Jana Rade and a host of others such as Dr. Patrick Mahaney, Carol Bryant, etc.

It’s a trait shared by many physical therapists: that desire to help patients take an active role in their treatment. 

Be successful in achieving your goals

When I transitioned from human to veterinary care, I quickly realized that now I would have two patients per case: the dog and their owner!

So much for getting away from people–people are still attached to dogs! But that’s part of the challenge and excitement. There are exceptions such as a client who called me recently. She expressed financial woes and the inability to afford weekly PT sessions. 

I replied: “no problem, I can come for just one session and teach you a home program to carry out with your dog!” I knew there was trouble when she exclaimed, “well I don’t know…. How much time is that going to take me every day? I may be too busy!”

But most of my clients are eager to learn any and all methods to help their dogs through the recovery and rehabilitation process.

Keeping track of your dog’s health data

A tool I often recommend is a hand-written diary or computer spreadsheet of information, to organize the care plan and document various daily factors.

Physical Therapy - A Practical Method to manage your Dog’s Care Plan

This helps track trends that may be present relating to weather, home environment, etc. The diary gives an overview of the dog’s status and helps predict when to expect improvement and achievement of goals.

It is most useful in clinical situations where there has been extensive illness or disability.

Recently I recommended this for 2 canine patients: one having just come home from inpatient veterinary hospitalization for fever, tick-borne infection, and pericarditis, resulting in extreme weakness and loss of mobility.

The other case involved Degenerative Myelopathy which had recently worsened and advanced into the forelimbs.

Organize the management of your dog’s daily care

In both cases, the owners were frantic with worry and needed a practical way to organize the management of daily care.

I set the clients up with a structured diary in Excel spreadsheet format.

They entered the data throughout the day, then we reviewed it each time I came for PT. They also printed it out to take to their veterinarian for follow-up visits.

Having personally experienced acute illness involving hospitalization with my dachshund Penelope, I relate to dog owner anxiety, worry, and stress.

I find the diary an effective tool to provide a measure of control and help cope with the enormity of the situation.

Sample data points to track

  • Date
  • Time
  • List of care activities: such as exercises, walks, sensory stimulation, wound care, dressing changes, medication administration, etc.
  • Weather
  • Dog’s response and mood
  • Bowel/bladder status
  • Eating: amount and type of food
  • Drinking: intake of water
  • Miscellaneous events of the day such as family visits, outings
  • Trends: every few days make an entry of any trends, patterns or correlations that you find

Example spreadsheet

Below is an actual spreadsheet for a client, showing some of the above-mentioned areas.

Maccabbee Schoenberg Care Plan and Daily Diary
Maccabbee Schoenberg Care Plan and Daily Diary

A care plan diary can take on many formats, but the best one is that which helps you manage and optimize your dog’s health.  It’s one of the greatest gifts we can give our them!

Editor’s note: I had been using a diary (well, I call it a chart) for years. First for Jasmine, and now for Cookie. I find that to be an indispensable tool. I like using colored fields and symbols for an easy at-a-glance overview of trends.

Share your thoughts