It can seem like a long time in between vet appointments, particularly during a pandemic. You may not get the face-to-face contact that you need to get the same standard of care for your pup that you are both used to. Most vet visits have been restricted to trips to a pet emergency hospital, so it can be helpful if you are able to do some dog health checks at home.
Particularly now during social distancing, if you have a sick pet, need medicine, or feel like your dog needs emergency treatment, contacting your vet remotely should be your first option instead of just showing up. Many vet practices are only run with a limited staff to help distance everyone from potential contact with COVID, so it’s important to respect that.
A routine vet visit is important to check for a pet’s overall well-being and health and should be done one to two times a year. When these appointments don’t happen, it can be helpful to do an easy and quick dog health check at home in between your pet’s visit. Dave Miller, seasoned dog lover and owner of Cozy Crates, advised us of these home dog health checks to help detect a condition before you see the vet or to help keep an eye on issues when you can’t get to the vet.
Home Dog Health Checks You Can Do Yourself
Open Up Wide
It’s important to check your dog’s mouth and teeth, but you need to remember there’s more to it than just doing a quick glance inside. Carefully, lift your pet’s lips and look at the back and side teeth. When checking for dog dental care, your main concern will be gum recession, which happens when plaque and tartar accumulate at the top of your dog’s teeth. It’s here that it will start to push the gum line backward.
When the gum line has been broken, it’s irreversible. After the gum recedes, you will see the gum start to lose its grip on your dog’s tooth, and he will eventually lose the tooth. You also want to in your dog’s mouth for lumps since they tend to be missed if you just look at the front teeth. Make sure your dog gets a dental check once each year from his vet as well.
All depending on your dog’s breed, he will need to get his clipped around three or four months on average. Some dogs may not need to have their claws clipped ever. It just all depends on your particular pup.
Make sure you monitor your pup’s claw growth to ensure that they are all normal and healthy. Pay close attention to the dewclaws or thumbs. Since these claws do not touch through, they are the most likely to curl and grow long. It’s simple and fast to check your dog’s claws by pulling back his paw fur gently while making sure that you are able to see the end of each of his claws.
Bumps and Lumps
Once a month, give your pup a full-body check to look for any unusual or new bumps or lumps. When you are feeling his body, make sure to take your time and check him properly by feeling and checking each part. This is important since bumps can be hard to find and often subtle lumps are living just under a dog’s skin. This is particularly true in the groin and armpit area as well as under muscles.
If you do feel a lump, it’s not time to worry just yet. You aren’t going to be able to tell what you are dealing with by only feeling it. Doctors aren’t even able to do that. These full-body checks are super important to look for things that are possibly abnormal so a professional can check them out further. If your vet has discovered a bump earlier, make sure that you keep an eye on it for changes in consistency and size.
You also want to pretty regularly monitor your dog’s weight. You can typically assume that any fluctuation in your dog’s size and weight can be due to an exercise or diet change. But if we are talking over a 10 percent change, then they may be a medical issue like a hormonal condition that needs to get checked out.
For smaller dogs, you may be able to place him in a carrier and then put it on the scale in your bathroom to get his weight. Just subtract the weight of the carrier from the overall weight to find your dog’s weight. If you are having a problem checking your pup’s weight at your home, you can take him to the vet for a quick weigh-in. typically, a vet’s office will be fine with you just popping in and weighing their pup without having an appointment and won’t normally charge you for it either.
Similar to watching your children’s drinking and eating habits, you should also want to keep an eye on your pet’s diet. This is a check you can do every day to look for a potential change in your pup’s appetite and monitor how much water he is drinking.
Besides looking to see if your dog is drinking or eating more or less than normal, also keep an eye on whether the water and food he is taken in is being passed regularly. A change in drinking and eating habits may be an indication for several conditions. For example, kidney disease and diabetes can cause your dog to have an increase in thirst. This change can happen incrementally or suddenly, so it’s important to monitor for either.
Home dog health checks are important to do even without a pandemic going on. But now, more than ever, make sure that you keep an eye on your dog’s teeth, claws, body, weight, and food and water intake to ensure he stays healthy until you can start to take him back to the vet regularly.