“I’m not of a doctor, how am I supposed to know what’s best for my beloved companion animal?”
No matter what method you use to treat your pet, there are three easy ways to make sure that she gets the best care.
First is to observe her patterns, behavior and changes. Alterations from her usual pattern are most important. New conditions in her body often manifest as modifications of her normal state.
Don’t dismiss any signs or symptoms that you are seeing. Use the 4 Ps (problematic, persistent, prominent and peculiar) to decide what is most important.
The body never lies. Despite what Dr. House said about his patients on the popular TV show. Symptom manifestations will surely guide us to the best treatment.
The symptoms may resolve on their own but they are still important.
The second step is to record of what is going on in her life. Keeping a journal works best. Write down her most prominent new signs and symptoms. No matter how minor they may seem. When possible, qualify general symptoms like eye discharge, itching, diarrhea, etc. with specific descriptions.
For example, is her 3pm eye discharge green mucous only from her left eye? Is her diarrhea soft-formed and only on her walks or watery, gushing and horribly smelly accidents in the house?
Have her “big ticket items” (overall condition) changed? Always note her energy, mood and appetite.
It’s easy to get stuck focusing only on one or two obvious health challenges. Especially if they are external like itching or a smelly sensitive red ear.
The process can be as simple as jotting a few notes down on your calendar. That way you can most effectively move on to step 3 and know exactly what and when changes occurred.
I’m a big fan of using Dr. Christina Chambreau’s “Healthy Animal Journal”. This book will both help you learn about the health journaling process and give you a place to keep your notes.
There are also lots of digital and online tools that can help you keep track of the data you accumulate. Nowadays some animal guardians use free tools like Evernote to keep their digital journal.
“Cloud” storage of your data is fantastic. Wherever you are as long as you have a smartphone, tablet or computer nearby you can make notes in your journal.
Another digital advantage is that it then makes transfer to a portable format very easy. You can travel with all health records on a USB key that fits in your pocket.
The third step is to make an appointment with your veterinarian. She can best help you put everything that you are seeing in the proper perspective. Ideally she is a holistically-oriented veterinarian. Rather than reducing each piece of the puzzle she will fit them all together.
A complete history and symptom description is extremely important. These are the most important part of the diagnostic process.
Following steps 1 and 2 can provide her with important clues to what’s going on.
A thorough examination can also provide further insight. Sometimes historical clues and external physiologic manifestations found on examination are not enough. Further diagnostic testing may be needed. Blood, urine and other non-invasive testing can be a critical part of the diagnostic process.
Test results are only one piece of the puzzle. It’s important to interpret them holistically.
Often lifestyle changes and homeopathic treatment are all that is needed to resolve both physical and biochemical abnormalities. Your holistic veterinarian can guide you to a gentle, supportive therapy.
Three easy steps to the best possible health care for your pet.
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