Give your dog a basic health check at home
If you know what your dog’s body is suppose to feel like and what it actually feels like, you will be able to pick up on any sudden changes that may be a sign of parasite infestation or looming illness. Giving your beloved pet a basic health check might not only save you money as you will be able to detect any health problems early, it will also save your pet’s life. Do these simple steps in between vet visits at regular intervals. Start at the nose and work your way down right to the tippy tail of you furry companion:
- Nose should be moist, not too dry or runny.
Touch the nose with the tip of your finger. Just enough moisture should come off to dampen your finger. The nose can be a good indication of health. If your dog’s nose is dry and cracked might be a sign of hyperkeratosis, which is rather a cosmetic problem than life threatening. Why is my dog’s nose runny? This is a more serious problem that could have a few different causes. Let us have a quick look: Allergies, sinus, respiratory disease, periodontal disease, nasal tumours and lodged foreign objects are all aggravators that can cause a runny nose in a dog. If it lasts for more than a few hours, make an appointment with your pet care provider.
- Teeth should be white with no tartar or blood.
When your dog gets a build up of tartar it is the first step of tooth decay. What happens after this is rotten teeth and gum disease. Your dog should have nice white pearly teeth with no build up close to the gums and there should be no smell or bloody discharge coming from the gums.
- Look for any loose teeth
Wiggle your dog’s teeth lightly. Check that there are no loose teeth that will need removing. Smell their breath. A stinky breath is a good indication of a problem that requires attention.
- Eyes should be clear and shiny
Look for any yellow discharge which is a sign of infection. Any murky blotches are an indication of cataracts or blindness. The eyes should be well lubricated, like a shiny marble. Pay attention to dogs with protruding eyes which are prone to dry eye disease.
- Ears should be dry and light pink inside.
Red/overly waxy/brown could be a sign of infection. A Foul smell coming from the ear cavities is a dead give-away of either an infection or parasite infestation. This should be looked at straight away as leaving it will only make it worse.
- Make sure there are no lumps or bumps on the head and neck area.
- Check nails on the front legs.
Make sure there are no cracked nails. Check for nails that are too long that needs clipping. Dew claws are the nails a little bit higher up on the paw and some dogs have them while some don’t. They don’t get to touch off the ground and so never gets a chance to naturally grind down. Check them regularly so they don’t curl into the paw pad and cause pain and infection.
- Check feet and legs for cuts, lumps or bumps.
Also check between the paw pads that there are no foreign objects stuck, or for any cuts from glass or stones. Some of the hairier breeds might have lots of hair under the paws that gets caked up in mud and form ridges that are painful to walk on. You can cut that out carefully with a scissor, making sure you don’t accidentally cut into the pad.
- Feel belly area for anything unusual
Some dogs have a hernia that needs to be checked regularly. Make sure they don’t get any larger as this will require surgery.
- Touch over the back. Spine and ribs should not be sticking through the skin.
- Check that the coat is shiny and free of dandruff, ticks and fleas.
- Check nails on back legs.
- Lift the tail and make sure the hair is not in the way of important business.
Check the private area; keep it as hair free as possible, if there is no hair then nothing can get stuck and eventually block them from going toilet. Smells may be indication of problems especially in females, it may be a sign of pyometria, which is an infection of the womb and can cause death if left. Another bad smell can be of anal glands that need to be emptied. In either case, don’t ignore bad smells!
Give your dog the gift of good health and do this basic health check regularly as a preventative measure.