A Daily Examination Of Your Dog Can Prevent Serious Illness


A daily examination of your dog will let you know if anything is wrong, before it becomes serious.

By examining him every day, you're educating your fingers about what's normal for him, so that you'll know when there's something that's not normal.

An added bonus of a daily examination of your dog is the attention you give him. Since your dog is looking for your love and attention, this is one more opportunity to give him what he craves.

See Spend Time With Your Dog for more on the benefits of giving him attention.

Performing the Exam

This daily examination of your dog requires no special skills. Your hands and fingers do all the work, with some help from your eyes and your brain.

Follow these simple steps. Be sure to speak your dog's name while doing these steps.

  1. Run your hands down his head and ears, then down the front of his body.

  2. Run your hands along his back and the sides of his body.

  3. Run them down the outsides of his hind legs.

  4. Do a quick check of his chest and abdomen.

What are you looking for?

What will a daily exam reveal?

  • Cuts, scratches and other small wounds

  • Skin problems, such as rashes, hot spots, and unusual hair loss

  • Aches and pains, either minor or more serious (see below)

  • Eye and ear infections

  • Tooth and gum problems

Three Indicators

There are three indicators that will tell you how serious the problem is.

  1. Is it a sudden change? Is it something that wasn't there yesterday, or is much worse today than it has been? If so, you may need to get him to the vet.

  2. Is the pain local or general? A localized pain over a small area may indicate a cut or scratch or other less serious problem. If, during the daily examination of your dog, he appears to be in pain everywhere, or over a large area, take him to the vet.

  3. Has the problem been around for a long time? If this is a chronic condition, it is less of a crisis, and may not require that you take him to the Veterinarian.

    Judge these indicators with common sense.

    If what you detect or observe during daily examination of your dog is something you wouldn't go to the doctor for if you found it on yourself or your child, then you probably don't need to take your dog to the vet.

    However, if you're not certain if it's serious, or need some reassurance, make the trip.

    Nine Warning Signs

    There are nine warning signs to be alert to during daily care.

    Although not necessarily a part of the daily examination of your dog, any of these can mean a trip to the veterinarian.

    1. Difficulty breathing. Dogs pant and breathe hard when they're active, or hot. However, if yours has been laying down and quiet, but is still panting or gasping, you should be concerned. This could be a sign of a lung or heart problem. At the very least, his body is being deprived of sufficient oxygen, which can cause organ damage.

    2. Check for pink gums. Pale or blue gums can be a sign of blood loss, perhaps from internal bleeding. Dark red or inflamed gums are less serious, but still indicate a problem. His gums may be infected, or irritated by tartar. See Dog Dental Care for more on this.

    3. Serious digestive problems are indicated by vomiting two to three times in an hour, or six times or more in eight hours. If this happens, get him to the vet right away. See Signs of Vomiting and Causes of Vomiting for more information.

    4. A chemical-like smell on his breath tends to mean that he's been into something toxic. Rush him to the vet or emergency animal clinic for poisoning treatment.

      (See Household Poisons for tips on how to prevent poisonings.)


    5. If your dog is big, check his belly daily for signs of bloat. Bloat is a potentially fatal condition that can develop quickly. If his belly is distended and sore to the touch, get him to the vet or clinic as quickly as possible.

    6. If your dog has difficulty urinating, if he's straining, or if there's blood in his urine, take him to the vet without delay.

    7. If his eyes are often red, or they tear excessively, have the vet check him out. There are some potentially serious conditions that can harm his eyes and reduce his sight.

    8. If your dog doesn't recover from strenuous activity after one day, or if he is disoriented or bumping into things, the vet should investigate.

    9. If your dog's been struck by a car, or fallen to the ground, but shows no signs of injury, take him to the vet anyway. Dogs tend to be stoic about their injuries. They don't complain much, yet the injury may worsens as days go by until serious harm results.

    Daily examination of your dog needn't take a lot of time out of your day. It will, however, give your dog many more days of good health and great companionship.





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