External Anatomy

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5 min 49 sec
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As a pet first aider, it's very useful to know where parts of the body are on your animal so that you can discuss that with whoever you are speaking to, whether it be a vet or a nurse or somebody else when you're trying to explain where an injury may have occurred. So we will just go through where certain parts of the anatomy are.

We start with the head. The nose of the dog is called the nose, and then the rest of this is the muzzle over the top of the nose there, and up to the top of the head. Obviously, we have the mouth, upper jaw, lower jaw so you can name where the injury may have occurred.

Different dogs have slightly different anatomy. They all have muzzles, but they may be of varying lengths, varying widths and that does make a difference as to whether they're more likely to get injuries on those parts of the body. Ears are also very different from dog to dog. Some ears may be quite upright and then other dogs, like Elsa the Labrador, have floppy ears; so they come down. And then you have dogs like Bassets which have very long floppy ears. Again, that can mean that there may be different types of problems associated with whatever type of ear that your dog may have.

Coming down from the back of their heads, we come to the neck and then the back of the dog. The different breeds have different size necks and different lengths of back to the length of the leg, and that again can make a difference as to what kind of injuries they are more susceptible to. So with a large breed, like Elsa, everything is in a nice proportion; nice long spine, long neck and long legs. Coming down to the legs, we have the shoulder, so you will often be able to feel the spine of the shoulder on an animal. On cats and dogs, rabbits, whatever breed it is, you should be able to feel that nice spine of the scapula, of the shoulder.

The shoulder joint is here on a dog; so quite forwards and then we have the elbow, which is here. The point of the elbow is a really useful point of location for finding other parts on the chest which we will come into when we are talking about CPR. The forearm is this part of the leg and then we come down to what we would know as the wrist, but in an animal, this is called the carpus. Their carpus or carpi are quite upright because they are four-legged animals, they walk on all four legs, so their feet are very much planted and upright.

We then come down to the foot. Dogs and cats will have five digits. You sometimes find in certain breeds that they won't have a dewclaw, which is this nail here, and that might be because they were born without a dewclaw or it may be that they had their dewclaws removed as a puppy for medical reasons, in most cases. As you can see with Elsa her dewclaw is still there and she has the four toes as well. The dewclaw varies. It can be very dangly and wobbly and then has a greater chance of being caught and ripped, and then with other dogs, it's very well attached to the side of the foot. And actually, it's much safer up there because it's less chance of being broken.

Coming down the body, we have the chest, 13 ribs and the back rib back here is what's called a floating rib, so it only goes halfway down. But when you feel back, you will feel all those ribs. You can count them in a lot of animals if they are the right weight and condition, and then you will feel the point of that last rib. The sternum is the bone that runs down the centre of where the ribs join the base of the rib cage, and that you should be able to feel the point at the front and then at the back. Standing up, we have the back legs. So it's useful to know the points of the back legs so that you can name them and discuss them if you are needing to speak to a vet about where an injury has occurred or where a cut may be because it helps them decide potentially what the damage could be and maybe how quickly you need to be seen. So the hip is up here. If you pull the leg back you should be able to feel the hip just moving underneath your hand there, and that's a lovely hip there.

Coming down, we have the thigh muscle, and then we come to the knee. So in a dog or a cat, the knee is called the stifle; that's the reference point that most vets would call it. Further down we have the ankle, what we would call the ankle. On an animal, this is what we call the hock. From the hock, you can feel these long bones, which would be equal to the long bones that we have in our feet, obviously not our hands, but these bones that run along here, much longer in animals, and then again the foot. And on the back feet of animals, they tend to only have the four digits rather than the five like we do. We then have the tail. Again, in some dogs, you will find that they don't have a tail because it would have been docked for health reasons, medical reasons, safety reasons or in some breeds they just have very short or stumpy tails, that's what they are born with.