Having a calendar for your dog does more than just track play dates. Using it regularly helps you spot allergies, track medical information and build a record of how your dog responds to changes in food, weather and daily activities.
Here’s five reasons to have a calendar for your dog:
- Tracking appointments. Your dog has more recurring events in her life than you may realize. There’s renewing her dog license, getting shots and vaccinations, pedicures, visits to the groomer, training classes and fun events you may want to go to with Fido. When was the last time you put flea-control medication on your dog? When was her last bath? Life is busy and complicated; a calendar makes an easy, one-stop reference book.
- Keeping a journal of health information. A quick note about your dog’s energy level, appetite, elimination and thirst levels can be helpful to your vet when your dog gets sick. Is he having snuffles or sneezing? Are his eyes tearing more than usual? How much does he weigh? Changes that don’t seem important on a day-to-day basis can highlight a seasonal or weather-related pattern. This is especially true for a dog that has allergies or stiff joints from arthritis.
- Recording expenses. What we spend on our pets often gets jumbled up with all of our other household expenses. Do you know how much you spend on treats for your dog? Or for dog food? Toys? How much is your monthly doggie day care tab? Veterinarian services? It’s not that you can (or even want to) avoid spending money on your dog, but what you do spend should be an informed choice. In our household, it’s clear that when treat spending rises, so does Fido’s weight.
- Noting environmental issues. These are the things that barely make a ripple in your memory banks, but often provide important clues to your dog’s health, behavior and well-being. What is the weather like? How hot, cold or wet did it get? Were there Santa Anas blowing? Were you at home or on the road with your dog? Did you have visitors? Was a family member away? Were any repairs or work being done on your home or property? Are tree or plants blooming? Are fleas an issue? Changes in the season, the weather or daily routines often show up in a dog’s behavior or health.
- Monitoring changes. Did you buy a new type of treat? Was there a change in your dog’s food? And don’t overlook going out to brunch or dinner and handing down to your dog some new and unusual tidbits. Did you go to a new dog park or go hiking in a new place? This information — paired with the health information you record — can go a long way to building cause-and-effect connections that can help you do a better job of caring for your dog.
Your notes don’t have to detailed or complex, but they do need to be regular. You can use a simple wall or desk calendar; Google or Outlook online; your smartphone calendar or a ring- or disk-bound notebook. A five-year diary is an excellent way to be able to easily look backward at what was going on at the same time last year. There’s nothing that says you can’t record this information on your own personal calendar.
As important as it is to record your observations, it’s important to go back and review the week or the month to look for patterns. For senior dogs with chronic conditions like arthritis or heart conditions, your dog calendar can help you pinpoint when it’s time to take action and go to the vet. Saving your dog’s calendar at the end of each year makes it easy to review seasonal or weather changes. Bringing the calendar with you at every vet appointment can also be helpful to him or her in diagnosing and treating problems.