A daily snout to tail examination of your dog accomplishes 3 important things

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Everyone wants a healthy dog. A daily snout-to-tail examination of your dog can help identify problems earlier and get the attention needed.

By Laura Pakis, Certified Professional Dog Trainer and Cynologist,

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.   Besides, 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.

  1. It quickly brings attention to changes in your dog.  You will catch lumps, injuries, flea/tick infestations, hotspots, and even internal parasites.
  2. Your dog becomes accustomed 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.
  3. It builds an important part of the human/dog relationship: mutual trust and respect.

How to perform a daily examination?

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. However, over time they will know what is happening and respond positively.

Develop a Pattern

It is important to develop a pattern with your examination.  This way, you won’t accidentally skip over a part.

Start at the head

I usually start at the head and work my way to the toes and nails. Next, you need to check joints, the back, skin, ribs, ears, eyes, mouth, and coat using your hands.   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 that require a vet visit.  Note anything different or unusual.  This is a great list to bring with your veterinarian to your dog’s yearly wellness examination.  I also do two more things.  I lightly tap my dog’s head with a flat palm (desensitize her to people saying hi to her that way) and lightly pull her tail (dogs 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 them, but more importantly, to trust your intentions and that you will not harm or torment them even when they are defenseless. Finally, a daily exam teaches you what is “normal” for your dog.


By checking out your pet regularly, you can help identify problems earlier and get the proper attention needed.  For more specific details on examining your dog, please visit https://acmecanine.com/perform-snout-to-tail-examination/

Let’s talk dogs, or even better, let’s learn about dogs.  Gain more canine knowledge through Acme Canine’s social media:  websiteFacebookYouTubeInstagram

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