We’re all familiar with “dog years,” but we tend to forget that our companion animals will be with us for a precious few of them. One way to maximize the good times and minimize the bad is to give your pet a weekly home physical exam. It’s quick, easy and oh so important.
Your first priority is to establish a “norm” for every inch and working part of his body. Once you determine what’s normal for your individual animal – and they’re as individual as we are – you can later detect any abnormalities that need professional attention.
Use all your senses to recognize how your pet should look, feel and smell. For example, a healthy pet will have a healthy coat, with an agreeable scent and no patchy areas indicating hair loss. When inspecting the ears, a foul odor is usually an indication of infection.
Check his eyes, ears, nose, mouth and trachea (wind pipe). Ask your veterinarian to instruct you how to correctly examine his salivary glands and external lymph nodes. Look for sores, growths and any change in color, size or shape.
Examine the abdomen for tenderness or distention. Feel for lumps in the mammary glands (both sexes). Note any swelling, 0dor or discharge in the genital and rectal areas.
Observe your pet from different angles as he walks and runs. Move his joints and note any pain or restricted use. Look for split, broken or ingrown nails. Become acquainted with the normal rate and rhythm of his breathing and watch for any changes.
Do this on a weekly basis and you’ll have many more happy and healthy dog years to share.