If your dog is dealing with a complicated or long-term medical condition, you might find it helpful to keep track of their symptoms and progress.
You can try a diary or a table, but how about something which allows you to see what’s happening at a glance?
A good system allows you to track anything you might need, including:
- elimination habits
- stool quality and frequency
- urine quality, frequency, and amount
- specific criteria such as limping
You can only track things that are relevant at the time. However, you can also add qualifying information such as weather, type of food, and anything you might need. That allows you to see whether there are correlations between outside factors and your dog’s symptoms.
One thing you should never rely on is your memory.
I started putting some information down when dealing with Jasmine’s chronically bad stools. I found that I might remember what happened a day or two back, but anything beyond that, I could not recall accurately. Memory lapses lead to summations such as she always has loose stools or never has loose stools or anything in between.
First, I started keeping a journal—it’s a fine idea. However, I found it was pretty overwhelming, and it was tough to see progress and compare one day/week to another. Flipping through the pages of information and trying to see a pattern is virtually impossible.
A visual aid that presents data over a period of time at a glance is better for seeing progress, patterns, and correlations. Because of the amount of information I tracked, I had a chart, including a month at a time. I opted for color-coding and icons, but a diagram would work equally well.
This tool proved helpful in seeing how Jasmine felt from day to day, what she ate, what medication she was on etc. I could see how each treatment was working (or not) and whether there were other aspects affecting her condition (such as weather or air quality). I could compare how much progress we made from the previous month or the previous year.
Because Jasmine’s issues were tricky, my chart became quite complex as we looked for a clear pattern. But, of course, you only need to keep track of what you and your vet find relevant for the issue your dog is dealing with.
Our vet has a similar blank chart available on his website to track the quality of life for dogs who are dealing with severe arthritis and other conditions that have a profound effect on the quality of life. This, again, is a tool to see how well the treatment is working and whether medication or strategy needs to be adjusted.
If you and your dog are lucky, you will never need such a tool. But if you and your dog are struggling with a chronic health issue, you will find it helpful.
These days, technology can help you do the work. Dog activity trackers don’t just monitor your dog’s location but also things such as:
- heart rate
- calories intake and burn
- overall health
Further information: Best Dog Activity Monitor: FitBark vs. Whistle vs. Link AKC & More
Dog health tracking apps
These days, you don’ need to keep a spreadsheet or a journal to track your dog’s health. Instead, you can grab an app to help you do that. Many of these apps combine health tracking with veterinary chats and more.
By the time you read this, there are likely newer and better apps.
This app allows you to track things such as:
- medical incidents, vaccinations, dewormings, exams, medications
- upload and share the data with your veterinarian
Further, the app features:
- first aid information
- diseases and conditions
- normal values,
- symptom checker
- care tips
- vet finder
- and other tools
Do you use an app to track your dog’s health?