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Posted on Mon, Feb 14, 2011 : 2:28 p.m.

A surprising new tool in helping your vet diagnose a pet's illness properly - your smartphone

By Lorrie Shaw


flickr photo courtesy of John Morton

How many times have you had to make an appointment for your four-legged friend to see their doctor because they were, well, behaving peculiarly — and you've felt inept when you called to make the appointment because you couldn't quite describe what was going on? It's a concern, because you're your pet's best advocate, their voice.

No worries, with you and your vet putting your heads together and having a good dialogue, things will be figured out — right?

Fast forward to the appointment date, and you both arrive intact at the office, only to be shuffled into the exam room only to have your sweet bundle of fur look and behave perfectly normal, or at least not the way that they were when you were at home and so worried by their actions.

This has happened to everyone, and yes, it is challenging, because our pets rely on us to relay what is going on to the vet to get a correct diagnosis and treatment underway.

When pets are stressed at the vets' office, it's not that unusual for them to behave uncharacteristically: even if that means they don't exhibit any of the behavior that alerted you that something was amiss while you were at home.

Recently, I ran across an article that highlighted the use of using video to help convey to a veterinary professional what is going on.

My first thought: "What a great idea!" When you think about it, it's a perfect way to allow your vet to observe behaviors, lameness, symptoms — anything that will offer details; the pet is in its own environment where it feels the most comfortable, and its guard is down.

You already know that keeping a detailed journal when your pet is acting funny is essential — including dates, times and eating, water consumption and elimination habits, and so many pet owners have smartphones with video capability built in, and capturing a couple of minutes of footage can enhance your ability to tell your vet what they need to know.

A quick video taken on a super-portable handheld device is no substitute for paying close attention to your pet, keeping track of symptoms in detail and honing your skills in talking to your vet effectively, but it's a very useful aid.

So, whether you are an experienced owner who has a pet with magically disappearing ot mystery symptoms or are new to pet ownership and feel like you have no idea what to look for, this visual tool can help in getting your companion animal get back to feeling better.

For more tips on getting the most out of your vet visits, click here.

Lorrie Shaw is lead pet blogger for and has previously written about the usefulness of smartphones and apps in pet health. Follow her daily adventures on Twitter as owner of Professional Pet Sitting.