Food & Symptom Tracker: Free Printable Sheet
I often wish I could wave a magic wand and, POOF, give dogs the ability to speak the same language as their families. I can only imagine what they'd say!
It would be enormously helpful to have the ability to speak with our dogs and know for certain how they are feeling, both physically and emotionally; to know if we are on the right track in our efforts to support their health with food, supplements and medications. Dogs are masters at hiding pain and discomfort. It would be wonderful if dogs could tell us where things hurt, or explain why they suddenly don't feel like eating.
Since we are not all Dr. Dolittles, one of the best tools we have to evaluate our dog's health, pain, or discomfort, is our own careful observation and search for patterns of behaviour, and physical symptoms.
A written record of our dog's reaction to new foods or medications, and tracking of physical symptoms and behaviour patterns is very helpful. A record sheet can help us determine the cause of digestive upset, if supplements or medications are easing discomfort or creating new problems. A written record can be shared with your dog's health care practitioners, or a holistic nutrition consultant, such as myself, to determine the way forward.
I have created a Food & Symptom Tracker to help you monitor your dog's behaviour, and reaction to new food, medications, and supplements.
As a holistic canine nutrition specialist, I recognize the significant connection between a dog's emotional state and their physical health. I have formatted the Food & Symptom Tracker so that you can make note of your dog's mood or changes in his home environment that might contribute to your dog's physical state.
How to Use the Food & Symptom Tracker
It's best to track new foods for several days to evaluate if the food is a fit for your dog. This is particularly important for dogs with sensitive tummies or allergies.
Medications and supplements will need to be tracked for a month or longer.
If you are trying to determine the root cause of your dog's behaviour (paw licking or biting, scratching, or ear infections, for example) be sure to complete all rows. Make a note of your dogs' mood: does he seem bored, unsettled, anxious, or stressed; has there been a change to his home environment; have there been unusual noises (fireworks, thunderstorms, traffic); has a new pet recently been added to the family; is there a source of grief for your dog (for example, loss of a buddy, loss of typical exercise, loss of a group play environment if your dog enjoyed that experience).
In the Notes column you can make note of the weather, the pollen count (if allergies are a concern), the family's mood, and any other information you feel is noteworthy.
Once you have tracked your dog for a few weeks or longer, you may start to see patterns. For example, you might notice that 3 days after you give a flea and tick treatment, your dog becomes lethargic or has some loose stools. You might notice that the starchy vegetable in your dog's diet is not the problem you thought it was, but that spending lots of time outside on the grass seems to be a factor in your dog's itchy paws. You might notice that your dog willingly climbs stairs after several weeks of a new glucosamine and chondroitin supplement.
Itching and diarrhea are two of the most common physical upsets that dogs experience. While food is often suspected, there are actually a number of other factors that can contribute to loose stools and skin and paw irritation. The Food & Symptom Tracker can be used to narrow the field of suspects.
Your dog's emotional state has a profound impact on his or her physical state, and must be factored into any evaluation, so be sure to notice subtle clues.
Click here to download and print your dog's Food & Symptom Tracker sheet.