By Laura Pakis, Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Blogger,
Everyone wants a healthy dog. So start watching your dog. By observing your dog when walking, and noting differences when petting, grooming and feeding your dog, you can hopefully spot concerns and get treatment and advice when necessary. In addition, a daily snout to tail examination will ensure you have gone over all parts of your dog.
Why is a daily examination important?
A daily ‘hands-on’ exam accomplishes several significant things.
- It quickly brings attention to changes on your dog. You will catch lumps, injuries, flea/tick infestations, hotspots, and even internal parasites.
- Your dog becomes accustom to being handled all over. When the vet wants to examine an injured paw or check stitches, the dog isn’t frightened or stressed about being examined. Grooming is much easier, too.
- It builds an important part of the human/dog relationship: mutual trust and respect.
I do a daily exam with Penny and Autumn sitting with their back to me. This is a very comfortable position for the dog to be in and it gives me maximum control and access to all parts of the body. You may need to enforce the SIT command so your dog remains quiet throughout the exam. Overtime they will know what is happening and respond positively.
It is important to develop a pattern with your examination. This way, you won’t accidentally skip over a part. I usually start at the head and work my way to the toes and nails. Using your hands, you need to check joints, the back, skin, ribs, ears, eyes, mouth, and coat. As you check your dog, use all of your senses. Is the smell normal or strong and foul? Untreated injuries start to stink as they become infected. Breath odor or ear odor can also indicate conditions which require a vet visit. Note anything different or unusual. This is a great list to bring with you to your veterinarian at your dog’s yearly wellness examination. I also do two more things. I lightly tap my dog’s head with a flat palm (to desensitize her to people saying hi to her that way) and lightly pull her tail (dog’s don’t like having their tail touched). Doing so will prevent some of the more common issues with children and adults greeting your dog.
Over time, your dog will learn to allow you to examine him/her, but more importantly to trust your intentions and that you will not harm or torment them even when they are defenseless. Finally, daily exam teaches you what is “normal” for your dog.
By checking out your pet on a regular basis, you can help identify problems earlier and get the proper attention needed. For more specific details on examining your dog, please visit the VIP Membership page on the Acme Canine website.
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