March 17, 2010
Advocating for Your Dog’s Healthcare Needs
Dr. Nancy Kay offers a wealth of dog-related health information in her book Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life. She suggests that part of loving our dog means becoming an advocate—taking care of their medical needs at annual visits, becoming comfortable speaking with our vet, and being prepared to handle more serious health problems when they arise.
How do you become a good advocate? Dr. Kay recommends that we take the time to “get smart” about our dog’s health by asking the doctor and clinic staff lots of questions, reading current and reliable medical information in books and on the internet.
While Dr. Kay acknowledges that even well-intended people are are apt to fall into anthropomorphism, making the assumption that animals have the same feelings or behaviors we do, she suggests that anthropomorphizing can often cloud our decision-making processes. As a result, we might run the risk of dismissing legitimate options in our dog’s medical care because we’ve come to some emotional conclusion on our own that the dog will be miserable if they had to endure one treatment or another. She writes, “The recipe for successful medical decision-making calls for a pinch of gut instinct combined with a whole lot of clarity about the potential risks and benefits of the available options.”
Speaking for Spot covers questions about immunizations, anesthesia, surgery, spaying and neutering, breeding, cancer diagnoses and treatments, and a watch list of symptoms a-z which may warrant a visit to the vet.
The companion website to the book has downloadable forms and templates and links to online resources, designed to make us all good advocates.
Other Resources: You can read Dr. Kay’s posts on her Speaking for Spot blog. Dr. Kay spoke with National Public Radio’s Terry Gross on Fresh Air in March 2009.>>Listen to the Story.