Checking your dogs health

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3 min 12 sec
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When giving first aid to your pets, it is always worthwhile thinking about what is normal and this will help you appreciate when something has gone wrong. If you look at your own pets when they are well, when they are resting and there is nothing going on, it is a good time to just appreciate the changes, the things that you might feel when you go do an examination from the top of their nose, the tip of their nose, right down to the tip of their tail.

So what I would start to do when you are looking at your pet, is start at the head and what you want to be looking for is any kind of pain or anything that is bothering them when you are touching them. So start with the ears, touch the ears. Most dogs will be fine with you touching their ears if it is something they used to, but if it is uncomfortable, it may be that they have got something down their ear, or as you are touching them, you may find some sort of scabbing or crusting that could indicate that there is a wound there. So just touch them and appreciate what is normal. You can also look at their eyes. They should be nice and open, they should be nice and shiny, and there should not be any sagging or drooping of the eyelids. In their mouths, hopefully, they will let you look and examine their gums and examine their teeth.

What you should be able to do is look at the colour of their gums. So you can see here a nice healthy pink colour of gum above the tooth there, and you should just be able to press that with your finger and do what is called a capillary refill test and this is where you are just going to put a little bit of pressure on the capillaries that run inside the gum there and if you have a good circulation when you put pressure there, you're initially going to stop the circulation through those capillaries and when you take your thumb off, the blood flow should come back very quickly in healthy, good circulation. You can then also have a look at their teeth, make sure they are okay. Sometimes if they get an injury to the mouth, there may be blood coming from the mouth, so it is a good idea just to get your dog used to you touching their mouths and trying to open them.

Then you are going to have a good feel along their back, along their legs, make sure you are able to examine their feet, touch all their digits, feel their nails. And if they do have any problems with you doing that, then you know that potentially that they have injured that area. You want to feel down the shoulders, down their hips and when you are doing that, you are going to feel around the joints. It is a good idea to do both legs at the same time so that you can appreciate if there is a change on one side that is not there on the other. You then also want to make sure that they are happy to move around and there is no limping, no hanging of the head, no arching of the back, and when you are feeling along the back here, you can also just rub your hands along the side of their abdomen and make sure that it is nice and relaxed. If there is any tension or if the abdomen feels hard at all, that is probably not normal for your dog. But as I say, it is really useful to appreciate what is normal so that when something does change, you are able to recognise that it is not normal for your dog.