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5 minute health check for your dog at home

  • 9, Nov 2022
  • Read time: 9 mins

If you’ve got a dog or puppy, you’ll know that they need their health keeping in check.

We’ve teamed up with our partners at Dogs for Good to show you how to complete an at-home health check on your dog, that will only take five minutes.

Our in-house vet, Luke, says: “Taking just a few minutes to check your dog over, even if it is just when cuddled up on the sofa watching TV or when outside enjoying the fresh air, can help you keep on top of their health and allows you to pick up on any subtle changes quickly. Nobody knows your dog, and what is normal for them, better than you do”.

Grooming your dog

It’s important to regularly groom your dog to help them maintain a healthy coat and prevent shedding. It also really helps you to bond and develop a strong relationship with your dog.

Top tip: It’s wise to introduce brushes and other grooming tools to your dog while they’re young, if you can. Make it a positive experience by giving your dog treats and fuss while grooming them. This will help them to associate being groomed with good things as they get older.

How frequently should I groom my dog?

This all depends on their coat type. For example, if they have a double coat then you may find you need to brush them more frequently to keep shedding hairs at bay.

How do I groom my dog?

  1. Grab some treats, and get your dog into a comfortable position such as sitting or lying down
  2. Run the brush down their body, making sure to be gentle in sensitive areas such as the belly and around ears
  3. If you spot any tangles or knots, try to remove them gently with the brush. If the knot is too strong, you might want to enlist the help of a professional groomer so as not to cause any pain to your dog
  4. Don’t apply too much pressure and allow the brush to glide over your dog’s fur, removing the dead hair as it goes

Why should you check your dog's health?

Checking your dog can help to identify any lumps, bumps or other signs that there could be a more serious health problem.

Pet insurance could help to cover your furry friend against certain illnesses or accidents. Some illnesses are common in dogs, and knowing what to look out for can be helpful in case your dog ever shows signs of being unwell.

How to complete a health check on your dog at home

Completing a health check on your dog at home should be easy and take no longer than five minutes.

Our in-house vet, Luke, recommends the following steps for checking different areas of your dog, from nose to tail:

Nose

Your dog’s nose should be moist, with no discoloured discharge and good airflow.

If your dog’s nose is dry, it could be a sign that they’re dehydrated. Encourage them to have a drink and try to ensure they have moisture in their diet.

If you notice your dog has a runny nose, or if there’s anything that doesn’t look or smell right, seek advice from your vet.

Mouth and teeth

Your dog’s teeth should be white with no plaque and the gums a fleshy pink colour. There should be no broken or missing teeth.

If you notice a build up of plaque, you can try brushing your dog’s teeth with a dog-friendly toothbrush and toothpaste. Your vet should be able to recommend the best products for your dog.

If your dog has broken teeth, or any redness on their gums, this may be a sign of a health problem that needs treatment from a vet. Seek their advice if you spot anything that doesn’t look quite right, or if your dog shows signs of pain.

Eyes

Your dog’s eyes should be open and bright, with the pupils at equal size. There shouldn’t be any discoloured discharge coming from the eyes, and there shouldn’t be any tear staining around the eyes on your dog’s fur.

It’s normal for your dog to get small amounts of build up in their eyes from time to time, just like us. However, any more than normal could be a sign of conjunctivitis, allergies or something else.

If you spot anything in or around your dog’s eyes that doesn’t look right, seek advice from your vet.

Ears

Your dog’s ears should be free from lumps and bumps and redness. There should be no abnormal smell, and minimal hair and wax.

It can be common for dogs with long ears or allergies to get ear infections. If you notice your dog shaking their head, itching their ears, or any strange smells or build up in their ears, they could be infected. Seek help from your vet in this instance, and they can try and find the cause and recommend treatment.

Skin and body

Your dog’s skin should be free from rashes, redness, abnormal smells and wounds.

Have a look through your dog’s hair all over their body, and keep an eye out when brushing or bathing them for any spots of concern or flaky skin.

If you notice your dog itching a lot or any missing patches of fur, it could be a sign of a health problem such as an allergy or skin condition. Seek help from your vet if you spot anything not quite right on your dog’s skin.

Feet and legs

Your dog’s legs and feet should face forward and should be able to move about freely with no restrictions or pain.

If you notice your dog showing any signs of pain or lameness, such as struggling to stand or walk or limping, seek help from your vet. Joint problems can develop in dogs of any age.

Nails and paws

Your dog’s nails shouldn’t be too long, brittle or broken. If they are, this can restrict their movement and cause them pain or discomfort. Be sure to get your dog’s nails trimmed regularly.

Your dog’s paws should have no lick staining on them, which usually shows as a rust colour on the fur.

Check between your dog’s paw pads to make sure there aren’t any sore parts, lumps, bumps, or any other abnormalities.

If you spot anything on your dog’s nails or paws that you’re unsure of, seek advice from your vet.

Tail

Your dog’s tail should sit in a normal position and be able to move about freely. There shouldn’t be any sores or fractures on or around the tail, and it should be clean underneath.

If you notice any changes in the movement of your dog’s tail, or if you spot anything that doesn’t look right, seek help from your vet.

When should you visit a vet?

Just like us, our dog or puppy can get bitten by insects or get scuffs and cuts when out and about, so try not to worry too much. However, it’s always best to speak to your vet if you’re ever unsure about something, or if you notice any of the following changes in your dog:

  • Discoloured discharge
  • Signs of pain
  • Limited range of movement
  • Flaky skin or sore patches
  • Increased itching

Protecting your dog

Protecting your dog against illnesses and accidents can be really important to keep your furry friend feeling their best their whole lives. At MORE THAN, our dog insurance has four cover levels offering a range of protection against the unexpected.

Find out more about our pet insurance

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