June 16, 2021

Being a Health Advocate for Your Dog: What Does It Mean?


By Jana Rade


Every time a fancy language is used to describe something, it makes it seem scary, complicated, and hard work. Advocating for your dog’s health CAN get complicated, and it can be hard work. However, not being your dog’s health advocate is what is scary.


Stripped to basics, being a health advocate for your dog means paying attention, knowing when to take action and seek solutions.


Case in point, Bridget’s story. Bridget started having bouts of severe vomiting. During these episodes, she was visibly uncomfortable—pacing around, licking her lips, paws, and floor. Since bad things tend to happen on weekends or during after hours, every time Bridget ended up at an emergency vet where she would receive an injection to stop her nausea.


For one reason or another, Bridget also became obsessed with eating everything that wasn’t nailed down. That would include grass but also carpets, blankets, toys—anything that she could find she would try to chow down.


Bridget was treated symptomatically with meds for GI upset and nausea. Again, and again, and again, whole summer long.


She’d have to be crated with nothing in the crate at all or else she’d eat it.


It wasn’t until one day Bridget getting sick while her regular vet was on vacation when things turned around for her. They had to visit a different vet who was kind enough to see Bridget for her vomiting. This vet ran blood work only to find out that Bridget was suffering from pancreatitis.


Finally, knowing what the problem was, Bridget could be treated appropriately. How long would have her suffering go on if her vet regular vet didn’t leave on vacation? How long would they continue trying to manage her symptoms rather than looking for a cause?


Paying attention was not the issue—Bridget’s symptoms were clear as day. She WAS take to a vet EVERY time. But she wasn’t getting better, and the problem remained unresolved.


Here is the thing. A symptom is not your enemy. It is a messenger alerting you to a problem. It is a natural instinct to deal with the symptom, particularly if it is something such as vomiting or diarrhea. And, sometimes, the symptom might need to be tamed. But going after a symptom without going after what has caused it in the first place does little to make your dog better.


Your job, as your dog’s health advocate, starts with seeing that something isn’t right with your dog, and ends with finding out exactly what is wrong. Only then you can treat or manage the problem effectively.



Jana Rade is a blogger, dog health advocate and author of Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog. Jana has gone through a steep learning curve about dog health issues with her heart dog Jasmine and made it her life’s mission to help others avoid mistakes when caring for their dogs’ health.

You can reach Jana on Twitter, Facebook or her Blog.

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