How To Perform A Canine Health Check At Home
Performing a basic canine health check at home can help you monitor your dog’s well-being between regular vet visits. As owner’s we are always in tune with our dog’s health, and by completing regular checks, we can spot signs early and get treatment if needed.
Have some treats handy and a notebook to record anything which may need monitoring.
Take a good look at your dog and look for any of the following signs :-
Discomfort when touched.
Behaviour and Appetite:
Loss of appetite or a sudden increase in hunger can be indicative of health problems.
Have you noticed increased or decreased thirst and urination?
Unusual tiredness, reluctance to move, or decreased activity levels can indicate illness.
Check your dog’s weight regularly and keep a record of this.
Normal pulse rates vary, depending on the breed and size, but is typically between 60-140 beats per minute.
You can take a dog’s pulse by placing two fingers on their inner thigh or the side of the chest
Measure their respiratory rate by counting their breaths in one minute while they are at rest. The normal rate is 10-30 breaths per minute.
Have you noticed a persistent cough lately?
Check for rapid breathing or wheezing.
A rectal thermometer is required for this.
Normal temperature for dogs is:-
100.5 -102.5 degrees Fahrenheit
38 -39 degrees Celsius
Check Inside Your Dog’s Mouth
Gums should be pink and moist
Check for tartar build up and loose teeth.
Does your dog have unusually bad smelling breath?
Sneezing, or nasal discharge may point to respiratory problems or infections.
There should be no cloudiness, discharge, swelling or scratches.
Look inside the ears for excessive wax build up, redness, nasty smell or discharge.
Nails and Paws
Are the nails trimmed with no ragged edges?
Look for cuts, abrasions, foreign objects, swelling, redness, or any abnormalities on the paw pads and between the toes.
Gently touch and press each paw to check for signs of pain or tenderness.
Inspect for dry or cracked paw pads.
Check for thorns, splinters, or any debris stuck between the toes or in the paw pads.
Skin and Fur
Check for parasites like ticks or fleas.
To check for fleas on a dog;
- Use a flea comb: Comb your dog’s fur with a fine-toothed flea comb, especially in areas like the neck, back, and base of the tail.
- Look for fleas: As you comb, check for tiny brown or black specks (flea dirt) or live fleas on the comb and in the fur.
- Inspect skin: Examine your dog’s skin for redness, tiny bites, or signs of itching, as these can indicate a flea infestation.
- Check bedding: Inspect your dog’s bedding and the areas they frequent for flea dirt or live fleas.
To check for ticks on a dog:
- Use gloves: Wear gloves to protect yourself from tick-borne diseases.
- Run your fingers: Gently run your fingers through your dog’s fur, feeling for small, hard bumps, especially around ears, neck, and between toes.
- Inspect visually: Examine any suspicious bumps closely. Ticks may look like small, dark, or swollen dots attached to the skin.
- Remove ticks: If you find a tick, use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp it as close to the skin as possible and pull upward with steady, even pressure.
- Dispose properly: Place the removed tick in a container with rubbing alcohol to kill it, and clean the bite area with antiseptic.
Run your hands over the dog looking for lumps on the skin.
The fur should be shiny, mat free and clean.
Gently manipulate each leg and joint, looking for signs of pain, stiffness, or swelling.
Look out for signs of seizures or tremors.
Carefully run your hands over your dog’s stomach to check for bloating, lumps or discomfort when touched.
Has your dog experienced persistent vomiting or diarrhea lately?
Have you noticed blood in stools or difficulty passing a stool?
Tail And Anal Area
Lift the tail and check for any swelling, discharge, bleeding or discharge.
Anal Gland Problems
Look for these signs to see if your dog has impacted or infected anal glands
- Scooting: Dragging their rear end on the ground.
- Excessive Licking: Frequent licking or biting around the tail area.
- Foul Odour: A strong, unpleasant smell around the rear end.
- Swelling or Discharge: Visible swelling or discharge from the anal glands.
- Pain or Irritability: Signs of discomfort, restlessness, or pain when sitting or defecating.
Check For Worms
Look for Symptoms: Watch for common signs like vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, scooting, visible worms in faeces or around the anus, or a bloated abdomen.
Watch for signs like itching, skin redness, ear infections, sneezing, coughing, or gastrointestinal issues.
Is Your Dog Overweight?
Allowing your dog to become overweight can lead to several health conditions. Vets like to be able to feel the dog’s ribs and see a defined waistline. This can be overcome by cutting down on treats and increasing exercise.
It’s also important to check on your dogs mental health. If your dog shows signs of lethargy, restlessness, panting, pacing or whining he may be suffering from stress.
Check all vaccinations are up to date.
Is your dog chipped and all details correct?
Have worming and flea treatments been administered?
Hopefully this canine health check will reveal that your dog is fighting fit with no signs of symptoms of illness. If you do find anything concerning, don’t hesitate to contact your vet. Early detection of illness is paramount and most symptoms can be treated easily.