When there’s something seriously wrong with out pets, its usually easy to tell – they’re lethargic, go off their food, don’t want to go for a walk. Sadly, sometimes by the time it gets to that point, it’s too late. What can you be doing to keep an eye on them on a month-to-month basis? To stay aware of their bodies and notice any changes or abnormalities before they turn into something serious? We’ve got tips for you on how to complete a tip to tail dog health check and keep track of any changes.
Start with the nose. Check for any changes or differences between the two nostrils. Make sure there is no discharge coming from the nose.
Check the eyes. Again, look for any redness, discolouration or discharge from either eye.
Finally, the mouth. Here you’re looking for any tartar build up on the teeth or any unusual colouring to the gums. Healthy gums are pink or black. Gums that are red and inflamed can suggest infection and gums that are very pale can also be a warning sign for many more serious conditions. Have a quick whiff of your pooch’s breath. If it’s particularly bad (not just normal dog breath bad!) it can be an indicator of digestive problems or other conditions.
At a healthy weight, you should just be able to feel your dog’s ribs. There should be a dip in at the waist between your dog’s ribs and hips and the belly should not sag. Monitor your dog’s weight and look for signs of weight gain or loss.
Run your hands over your dog’s body to check for any lumps or abnormalities. Take your time doing this. Most dogs will enjoy the attention and gentle massage. Move up and down the body in sections to make sure you do a thorough check.
Whilst you’re checking for abnormalities, keep an eye out for ticks and fleas. Look particularly around the rump area by stroking the hair back against the grain and look for black dots near the skin. You are unlikely to see an actual flea as they move very quickly; you’re more likely to spot the black flea droppings on the skin. Ticks love protected areas like in ears, the mouth and between toes.
Take a look at the nails and pads. Press each pad and toe and check for any pain. Nails should not be cracked or broken and should not stick out over the pad. If you can hear your dog click-clacking around the house, their nails are too long and should be trimmed. Some dogs will allow you to do this yourself at home and others may need a quick trip to the vet or groomer.
Check your dog’s spine by gently pressing each vertebrae along their back down to the tail. Look for any signs of pain or discomfort
If your dog will let you, check the tail for normal hair growth and have a look under the tail for any sores or redness
If you notice any changes in your dog or have any concerns, consult a veterinarian