“The benefits of keeping records of our dogs’ lives extend well beyond being able to refer to them at vet visits. Humans are notoriously bad at assessing the dates of events (Hammond 2012), and the kinds of gradual changes that are connected to a long-term condition may be the hardest of all to track.” – Eileen Anderson, Remember Me? Loving and Caring for a Dog with Canine Cognitive Dysfunction
Up until now, I’ve relied on memory and (in keeping with my generation) a history of Facebook posts to catalog Earl’s behavior and symptoms. Now that his care is getting ever more complicated with new medications, supplements and behavior changes, I need a better system of recording Earl’s behavior so I can:
- Track behavior over time
- provide an accurate account to our veterinarian, and
- determine the efficacy of various treatments.
I will be adding 3 supplements to Earl’s medication regimen, which makes a total of 6 medications and supplements per day. In order to determine the effectiveness of the new supplements, as well as importance of time of dosage during the day, I need help recording the data.
Because CCD is a confusing diagnosis, with a myriad of confusing symptoms, the more ways I can provide organization and evidence-based methods to my care for Earl, the better. And, the less admin I have to worry about, the more time I have to help Earl stay healthy and stress-free, my main priority.
After researching various online health tracking tools, I downloaded Symple – Symptom Tracker and Health Diary from iTunes. One of the benefits of using an application like this versus traditional pen and paper recording is the ability to easily track symptoms over time. To start, the app asks you to choose 10 symptoms to manage 10 factors to study. The app tracks data from these two inputs over time. It also provides a symptom journal and a section to store photos. Another benefit is the ability to set reminders for consistent recording.
After setting up the application, I’ll continue to share my reviews and progress.
Some other pointers for staying organized amid the chaos of CCD:
- Check with your veterinarian about an online pharmacy. In addition to easy medication delivery, you can also set up automatic refills and reminders, taking one less thing off your to-do list.
- Record when you start a certain supplements or medications, the time of day, and the dosage. When adding new things, this information is important when talking to your veterinarian about determining whether the treatment is effective or needs adjusting.
- Keep a hard copy of your dog’s records available in case of emergency, or in case someone else needs to act on your behalf at the veterinarian. Symple provides a backup functionality so that in case something happens to your phone, you still have your data.
- Write down the cost of each medication and supplement, and how you obtain it (online pharmacy, Amazon, Walgreens, etc). This will help reduce the confusion of where to get what product, and provide a reliable price tracker. (For example, I discovered that ordering Neutricks from Amazon Prime is $20 cheaper than ordering through the online pharmacy. Something I want to remember in the future!)
- If your cabinets are starting to look like their own mini pharmacy, purchase a weekly pill organizer from your local drugstore to make dosing time less confusing.
More resources for getting organized:
- When Buying Veterinary Drugs Online, Look for Accredited Sites: Whole Dog Journal
- Your Dog & The “Placebo Effect”: Whole Dog Journal
– Maureen Backman, MS, CTC, PCT-A is the owner of Mutt About Town dog training in San Francisco. She is also the founder of The Muzzle Up! Project and Muzzle Up! Online. To get in touch, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. To purchase her training DVDs, visit Tawzer Dog.