Advocacy Aids


Photo © Susannah Kay

I use the term Advocacy Aids to describe a set of health forms I’ve created to help you excel as your pet’s medical advocate. Where can you find them?  It’s easy.  Simply go to and look for “Resources” in the red horizontal main menu.  The first item in the Resources pull down menu is Advocacy Aids.  I invite you to download, print, copy, and use them to your heart’s content.  Feel free to share with others as well.  By the way, while you’re there  please check out my new website! 

The Advocacy Aids include: 

Health History Form:  This form provides an easy way to keep track of your pet’s vaccinations, test results, prior medical issues, surgical procedures, and adverse reactions to medications or vaccinations. 

Current Medications:  List all of your pet’s current medications (including supplements, flea and tick control products, and heartworm preventive).  Be sure to bring along a copy to every hospital visit. Your vet will be profoundly grateful and this paperwork will help you both catch any prescription errors. 

Current Health Issues:  This form helps keep track of all of your pet’s current medical issues.  It’s helpful to maintain a written list so none of the issues will be overlooked or forgotten. 

Medication and Treatment Schedule:  This template is wonderfully helpful if your pet requires medications/treatments multiple times daily and/or at different times of day.  I’ve provided you with the same template we use when treating animals in my hospital.  On my website you will find a sample template form that I’ve filled out (so you can see how it works) as well as a blank template for your use. 

Emergency Contact Information:  You will want to have ready access to this completed form in order to avoid spending time tracking down necessary information while in the midst of an emergency. Be sure to provide a copy to the person caring for your pets when you are away. 

Contingency Plan: Use this form when you are going out of town and may not be one hundred percent reachable.  The form lets your veterinarian know which trusted person you’ve designated to make medical decisions about your pet should you not be reachable.  Distribute a signed copy to your pet-sitter/boarding facility and your veterinarian. 

Veterinary Office Visit:  This form will help you keep track of the purpose of your visit as well as important questions to ask your veterinarian. 

For those of you with pets other than dogs, please forgive me as many of the forms contain the word, “dog”.  Feel free to cross this word out and substitute in any species you like!  After you’ve had a look at the Advocacy Aids, please let me know which ones you like and think you will use.  If you can think of other Advocacy Aids, please don’t be shy.  I would love to hear your ideas. 

Best wishes for good health, 

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of  Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook 

Please visit to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

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7 Responses to “Advocacy Aids”

  1. Marlene Says:

    I believe it’s a good idea to track lab results and have them grouped into categories, such as “blood count”, “liver function”, “kidney function” etc. so an owner as well as the vet can see if there is a trend.
    I just recently ran across this with one of my dogs, about 5 years ago his labwork showed kidney values at high normal, since I feed high protein diet I wasn’t alarmed. My vet took note and when we discussed arthritis treatment he recommended to try supplements versus NSAIDs. Subsequent lab test produced similar results, no worsening of the values but high normal. then my dog had dental surgery and labs were taken when he hadn’t been eaten that day. this time the kidney values were much lower, I took note of this being possibly related to not having eaten for over 12 hours. we started him on NSAIDs. So when we went back 5 months later, the kidney values were up again to a few points above his previous high normal values, so probably nothing to worry about as the lower values prior to the procedure were not the norm for him. but my vet only compared the lower values prior to surgery with the new higher values and while not overly alarmend, alerted me to the fact that the values have gone up. I e-mailed him back that the results from prior to the procedure when he hadn’t eaten were the lowest values in over 5 years and that he has always had higher values. so we will go back this week for a 3 month follow-up, just to be on the save side and I am going to feed him less protein and won’t feed him for a better comparison.

  2. Caol Whitney Says:

    Brilliant, Dr. Nancy! I’m going to point this out to my friends. Keep up the great work!

    ~~ Carol and Camellia Camelo (Havanese rescue)

  3. Jana Rade Says:

    Very important things! It’s a great idea to have these things down and ready.

  4. Amy Says:

    I would add weight records to this. My (old) vet had everything on computer and his practice had high-tech everything, so I just assumed all the records were kept regarding weight. I was shocked to discover after almost a year that the vet’s computer keeps only the previous 5 weigh-ins. That would be fine for the young dog that only comes in for annuals, but my diabetic was trying to gain weight and it was an important symptom of how she was doing. During one particularly bad period she had at least five weigh-ins in one month.

  5. Jane Eagle Says:

    Excellent forms and excellent suggestions! I would add a list of important questions to ask, which I notice many of my friends forget:
    What would you do if this were YOUR dog? (my personal favorite when unclear). Of course, the pet owner must remember that the vet usually does not have the high costs to pay, since they will often do the treatment themselves, so cost is usually not an issue for THEM. Nonetheless, to hear how a vet you trust would proceed with their own pet can make things much clearer.
    I also ask “What is the prognosis?” for a seriously ill pet. It can be easy to fall into treatment after treatment when there is no good outcome to be expected.
    Another question I notice that people with terminally ill pets fail to ask (and shame on the vet who avoids the answer): How much time do you think my pet has left? I was present when one of our adopters dog was in the hospital; after thousands of dollars, their vet finally admitted the dog had hemangiosarcoma. Having lost a dog to that cancer some years ago, I knew her time was short. The vet wanted to keep the dog in the hospital for several more days ($$$$); I asked the question of time, and the vet didn’t want to say! I pressed for an answer: a week? maybe. A month? No. So I told them their beloved dog had less than a week, and they should bring her home and spend every minute possible with her, so she could have a big store of love to take with her. She died 3 days later, at home.

    I know there are many more important questions to ask, but can’t think of them at this time. And if I forget to ask a question, I don’t hesitate to call and ask it over the phone, leave a message for my vet if necessary.

  6. Dr. Tony Johnson Says:

    Excellent idea, and nicely executed, Dr. Kay!

    I can’t tell you how many ER patients these forms would have helped if I had had access to them from pet owners.

    This is great stuff, and thanks for putting the effort into them!

  7. Sarah Says:

    Another important thing to add here is the FOOD and supplements the animal is eating every day. These can be important both to a vet who needs to treat the animal or for the caregiver when the owner is away. I can’t tell you how many people come into the store where I work with a handfull of cat/dog food and say they are cat/dog sitting and need more of this food, “do you know what kind of kibble this is?” Yeah, right. Leave a detailed list of what kind of food (or bag label), how much to feed, supplements or treats and where you purchase them.

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