Dog Health Assessment
Being in tune with your dog’s body is very important to her health and well-being. You should take the time to assess your dog by moving your hands over her entire body in a caressing manner. Doing this from time to time will relax your dog, alert you of any changes and make your dog more at ease with the groomer’s touch. This is especially important with the paws and ears.
How to Assess Your Dog’s Body
Beginning with her head, gently massage her skull, ears, muzzle and neck with your fingers. Keep track of any lumps on the body as well as changes in size or constancy. If you find a lump is changing or growing in size, you should consult your veterinarian.
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Continue your examination by massaging the ears, being aware of any discharge, odor or mats behind the ears. Look in your dog’s eyes for discharge, dried tears, redness or cloudiness. Open your dog’s mouth to inspect the teeth for plaque and decay, and be aware of odor.
As you continue, bring your hands over the shoulders, withers and across the back. Lift one leg to a bend at the elbow, fold the paw backward to view the pads. Continue around the dog to check each paw. You can also do this while the dog is lying down or on her back in your lap. Be aware of any hot spots or sores, and treat accordingly.
The nails should be nicely trimmed and not cracked or clicking on the ground while walking. Check for dewclaws (the claw higher up on the inside of the leg). When your dog is in for grooming, always remind the groomer to trim her dewclaws.
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If your dog walks with a limp or favors a leg, inspect the foot. Again, while the dog is on the ground or in your lap, look at the bottom of the foot. The pads should be smooth and hair shouldn’t be matted in between the toes. Look for foreign objects, such as thorns and foxtails. Take time to massage the pads so your dog will be well accustomed to someone touching her feet.
You should check the armpits, chest and down the legs for mats. Continue to move your hands over the rump area and down the back legs. One spot where dogs love to be massaged is just at the rear above the tail. While around the rear area, be aware of any odor around the rectum or if there is swelling.
If you suspect that the anal glands need to be expressed, you should have that performed by your veterinarian. It’s important to have your dog’s anal glands expressed professionally, or you run the risk of a rupture.
Personally examining your dog at least once a month serves as another valuable time for bonding. You’ll be in tune with your dog as well as prepare her for a visit to the groomer.
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