You Do Not Need to be a Veterinarian to Notice Signs of Problems
While you certainly cannot replace the investigative work a veterinarian performs after years of studies and hands on experience, as an owner, you still can perform routine physical examinations on your pet in order to quickly report any abnormalities to your veterinarian.
The best time and place to perform a physical on your pet is when your pet is relaxed and quiet, perhaps during your routine grooming sessions. With just a bit of extra effort you may be able to notice any abnormalities and at best, you will get to know more about your pet’s anatomy so to be able to recognize any thing awkward going on. Following are some physical aspects to consider.
- Check Your Pet’s Skin
Touching your pet’s skin routinely may help you identify any bumps, lumps, recent changes or sensitive areas. Notice any odd smells and try to figure out the source. If there is a strong fishy smell, very likely it is originating from the anal glands, two scented glands that secrete fluid when they are not emptied successfully following a bowel movement. Your veterinarian often can empty these glands and give him or her quick relief.
- Check Your Pet’s Mouth
A bad breath is often indicative of dental decay. Pets especially over the age of five are very prone to periodontal disease. This can be further confirmed by taking a look into the dog’s mouth: a brownish layer covering the teeth especially towards the back of the mouth is hardened tartar. Normal gums are bubble gum pink in color. Pale gums are often indicative of anemia, shock or other problems related to the proper functioning of heart and lungs
- Check Your Dog’s Nose
Contrary to what many think, a dog’s nose is not indicative of the dog’s health status. The nose is perhaps well comparable to a human’s lips. They tend to get dry with any variations in temperature and humidity. There can be healthy dogs with very dry noses and ill pets with wet noses.
- Check Your Pet’s Ears
Ears that smell odd often are affected by a yeast infection. Look for a brownish discharge that confirms that. If the discharge is black instead, similar in consistency as coffee grounds, suspect ear mites. Normal ears should be free of discharge, odorless, clean and with no signs of redness or swelling.
- Check Your Dog’s Temperature
Taking your dog’s temperature will help you determine if your pet is running a fever or if there may be underlying infection. This is accomplished by lubricating a thermometer with petroleum jelly and inserting it in the pet’s rectum. The tip should be inserted up to an inch. Normal temperature is between 101 and 102.5. Anything over 103 should be reported to a veterinarian.
- Check Your Pet’s Respiratory Rate
Respiratory rates can be reported by counting the pet’s breaths by observing how many times the chest rises and falls or how many times the nostrils enlarge. A good way to calculate the pet’s breaths is by observing how many times the pet breaths within 15 seconds. The number should then be multiplied by four to get the correct calculation per minute. Normal breaths per minute in dogs and cats should be no more than 20-40.
- Check Your Dog’s Heart Rate
The heart rate is felt by touching over the heart directly with a hand or by using a stethoscope and placing it over the left side of the pet’s chest right behind the elbow. Normal heartbeats range between 80-120 per minute.
As seen, it does not take much to learn how to recognize signs of trouble in your dog. Ultimately, as a dog owner, you really know your dog best therefore, it is your responsibility to report to your veterinarian any abnormalities promptly.