Keep written records of how you care for your dog

Published 5:31 pm Tuesday, January 14, 2020

K9 Corner

January is now half over — where did the days go? Still, it is the first month of the year and time to think of how you can improve on your care of your pet.  

When I got my first dog, I decided to keep a record of everything involving her. I got a spiral notebook and recorded when she had a bath, when I cleaned her teeth, how long I spent training her in obedience and tracking as well as her trips to the veterinarian.  

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Medical records are very helpful. One time, one of my border collies came weaving up toward the house with the ruff around her throat wet with saliva. Her eyes were glassy and she staggered as she neared where I was standing. Alarmed, I took her to a weekend emergency clinic where she was examined, given a rabies booster and an antibiotic. The dog’s medical records were helpful as the doctor knew exactly when her last rabies shot was given, as well as her preventative shots. (I fastened the rabies sheet into the notebook and asked for the labels from the shots too.)

Another time the written record came in handy was when one of my dogs needed to see a specialist. I took her and the specialist felt she needed a different diet. I looked at my dog with her shiny coat, bright eyes and dancing feet and wondered how she could be better on a different diet. Without saying a word I produced her medical record with the copies of her laboratory results for the past five years. The specialist glanced at them and pronounced her better off on her current diet than on the one he was considering.

Had the specialist pointed to changes that a new diet would help, I would have been glad to change. However, because of the records, he was able to make a better decision and leave her on her current diet.   

What do I do currently? I am a bit lazier; I keep a file folder on my current dog and omit recording by hand a lot of the details. Still, it is important to note the day the dog gets a bath as well as the outcome of veterinarian visits, especially when there is blood work analysis and other laboratory tests. Because I worked in a hospital setting in the past, I like to compare the laboratory results with the previous tests. I also keep track of my dog’s weight so I know if he is eating too much or not eating enough.

One thing I no longer record is his exercise. He loves to play with his toys indoors and since he is a toy breed size, he doesn’t need as much exercise as my other dogs that weighed 40 to 50 pounds each. With those dogs, I was fortunate that they would go outdoors in any type of weather and romp together – there were three of them – until I called them indoors.

Keeping a record can be very helpful at times.