Interview: Jana Rade, Author of “Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog”

Jana Rade is the blogger behind the dog health blog My Dog’s Symptoms. The blog features what she’s learned about dogs and their health issues and often features her Rottweilers.

Jana is the author of the award-winning book “Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog: How to Tell if Your Dog Is Sick and What to Do Next.”

“Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog” is an owner-to-owner dog health advocacy guide. I got to read it when it was in the final editing process, and I recommend it for dog and cat owners, pet sitters and people who foster animals. It helped remind me that I am the best advocate for my pets’ health. Vets are there to help.

Jana maintains the popular Facebook group Dog Health Issues that has more than 15,000 members.

Follow Jana on Twitter: @DawgBlogger

That Mutt: What is your favorite dog-related book and why?

Jasmine the Rottweiler
Jana’s dog Jasmine

Jana Rade: Ah, the notorious question about a favorite book. The problem with that is naming just one. It’s never only one. So I am going to answer this differently—what is a book I feel every dog parent should read (besides mine lol)—and that would be Speaking for Spot by Dr. Nancy Kay.

When I first read it, the thought on my mind was, where was this book a few years ago when I needed it?

There was so much we had to learn the hard way with Jasmine; this book has it all right in there. How to find a good vet, how to work with them, how to pursue a diagnosis … Sounds simple? Only until your dog gets really sick.

TM: What dog training tool or other dog product has benefited you or your dog’s life the most recently?

Jana: Solvit dog ramp. For Jasmine (Rottweiler), we built our own. They served their purpose well. But when Cookie (also a Rottweiler) hurt herself, we needed something quick, and we needed something light that wouldn’t take up much space.

After a lot of research, we decided to try the Solvit telescopic ramp. The main criteria for a ramp are sturdiness, sufficient width and adequate length. The whole idea is to improve safety, not to make things worse.

This ramp ended up meeting all our criteria. It looks like it might be flimsy but it is very solid and sturdy while being light and easy to fold or expand.

TM: How has a past failure with one of your dogs helped you make better choices later in life?

Jana Rade

Jana: My biggest failure was not taking charge of Jasmine’s veterinary care and leaving it all up to the veterinarians. Today, I am in charge; they are helping.

TM: In the last 5 years what belief or habit has most improved your life with dogs?

Jana: Realizing that dogs “see” the world differently and that doesn’t make it wrong. Just because I don’t like the idea of my dog rolling in deer poop doesn’t mean they don’t have a good reason for doing it.

TM: What advice would you give to a friend about to get her first dog?

Jana: Actually, I believe dog ownership should be licensed just like driving is. Not that it’s going to happen and not that it would solve all the problems; look how many terrible drivers are out there.

TM: What’s the worst advice you hear when it comes to dogs?

Jana: There is so much bad advice out there, and then there is misinterpreted good advice. The worst advice is home-treatment recommendations when a dog clearly needs to see a vet asap.

Jana’s Rottweiler, Jasmine

TM: What’s a popular trend in the “dog world” that you disagree with?

Jana: There are popular trends I love – positive training and fear-free approach. I disagree with everything opposite of that.

TM: What’s something you do or believe in that other people think is odd? (doesn’t have to be dog related)

Jana: I believe in dogs being dogs. I believe that my dog doing something which I might not like does not make it wrong. I believe that gross is in the eye of the beholder, even though often that is my eye as well. I’m learning to accept the dogs’ way of looking at things. Safety is the only rule in my house.

TM: Do your dogs sleep in your bed?

Jana: The simple answer is yes. The more accurate answer is that Cookie has the option to do so but also loves her cooling bed, so she usually plays musical chairs with all her sleeping choices. Jasmine almost exclusively chose her cooling bed except when we were watching TV.

Thank you, Jana!

Her book “Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog” is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.

Please leave a comment and welcome Jana to That Mutt. If you have any health-related questions, you can leave them below or request to join her Facebook group.

Related posts:

Interview with author Laura Koerber

Dog vaccinations – what not to do

5 questions with a German shepherd owner

My “5 question” Friday posts are a new feature on That Mutt where I interview authors, trainers, veterinarians, bloggers and others who work with dogs. It’s a way to share different opinions and experiences. If you would like to be featured, please email

I adapted some of these interview questions from “Tribe of Mentors” by Tim Ferriss. You should read it.

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19 thoughts on “Interview: Jana Rade, Author of “Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog””

  1. My main regret is doing everything the vet told me no questions. Kibble, cooked bones, flea and heart worm meds, vaccinations, which led to both dogs getting hemangiosarcoma and dying way too young. However my dogs now get quite the opposite!

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I started out doing everything vets told me without question, then I went pretty extreme the other way and now I use common sense somewhere in the middle. Haha. It’s important to have the right vet on your side who is willing to listen and sometimes compromise or go against what they would normally recommend. They have a hard job dealing with a huge variety of pet owners. I can only imagine what they have to deal with! Ha.

    2. Hi Lynn, I agree with your answer. When confronted with a dog health issue, I research natural remedies. Also, I’m on a fixed income and going to a vet is extremely expensive. Remember the days of James Herriot, who use to make house calls for all kinds of animals? Whatever happen to our compassionate and humanitarian days:(.

    3. Lynn, I think that’s such a great point. Vaccines and preventatives are always a calculated risk.

      Take flea/tick-related stuff, for example. My dog is vaccinated for Lyme annually and she gets Nexgard for at least six months of the year depending on what the weather does.

      I know this may not be great for her long term and that the Lyme vaccine does not add a ton of protection. Its relative efficacy is not that high. On the other hand, I live in the upper Midwest, where ticks and tick-borne diseases are a big problem. I can’t keep her in a bubble and she could pick up ticks without ever leaving the city anyway, so I choose to use the medical measures available, check her after outings, and hope for the best. If ticks were less of an issue in my region, I might make different choices. A friend also told me about Wondercide, and I may add that to my arsenal this season.

      It comes down to the specific risks to your dog and what you’re comfortable doing (or not doing). And for what it’s worth, the Lyme vaccine and canine influenza vaccine were two that I had to convince my vet my dog should have. When we discussed them and talked about why I thought they might benefit my dog, the vet agreed with me, but those two are not standard and my vet doesn’t typically recommend them unsolicited.

      1. I titer, raw feeder for 7 years now, organic whole food supplements, massage, chiropractic, and acupuncture. I compete in agility, and go for off leash walks about 5 times a week. Household cleaners are organic. We beat cancer! Our 12 year golden boy was diagnosed 3 1/2 years ago with squamous cell carcinoma in his mouth and brain. Given 3-6 months to live by the oncologist. Now there is no sign of cancer by X-ray. This stuff works.

  2. I love that she says “let dogs be dogs”. My greatest belief in having dogs is that they have too short of a life and give us so much in return, that I make sure their lives are full and fun.

    1. I agree! I’m fortunate to live where I can let my dogs off leash for miles. They get to roll in and eat cow or horse poop, antelope poop, dig after gophers, chase rabbits and BE DOGS almost every day depending on weather.

      1. Lindsay Stordahl

        Lucky dogs! My pup Remy is happiest when he’s allowed to just be a dog – running off leash, etc. I suppose that is what all dogs want. And yes, he just ate horse poop this morning actually! Haha. Does not even faze me. He’s also better behaved when he has more freedom and it’s good to let them make choices.

        1. Yay for horse poop! I let my dogs run around a friends yard and eat her horses poop, my female rolls! They love it.

      2. @Lynn, I personally draw the line at eating poop given 1) the gross factor and 2) leptospirosis being a danger in my area (I don’t like to let her drink out of streams for that same reason). Oh, and maybe not the “chase rabbits” part because of lepto and because she actually caught one in my back yard and that cleanup was…somewhat less than fun. But the rest – yes. I try to find safe places for her to do that regularly. There’s a visible difference in how content she is after off leash exercise vs on.

    2. Agreed, Chris. And it can take creativity, and ironically a lot of structure, to give that to them. My dog leads a tightly micromanaged life in an urban area. I make it a priority to give her time to just be a dog (off leash, running around, not subject to obedience unless it’s necessary for safety), but that takes planning on my part!

    3. I feel it’s very important. Dogs are sharing in our lives but I don’t feel it’s fair to make them do everything our way. They want to chase critter, dig holes, get dirty … I think it’s important to let them do such things.

  3. Hi Jana! I couldn’t agree more with the issue of trusting vets blindly. I remember feeding the pups Science Diet for the first few months because it’s what our then vet recommended, along with chemical flea & other pest preventatives. We’ve come a long way since then 😉

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