Make your weekly grooming session and check-over systematic but fun. This way you and your pup can enjoy the contact while you keep in touch with his state of health. Be gentle and careful and don’t forget that if your pet is in pain he may behave unpredictably. If you aren’t confident about any aspects of the weekly check-over, ask your vet to show you what to do.
- Eyes and ears — eyes should be bright, shiny, and reflect light; discharge, a bloodshot or dull appearance, or swollen eyelids can all indicate problems. Similarly, the ears should be clean and lined with normal skin. A smelly discharge or thickened, reddened skin are signs of disease.
- A dog’s nose should be rubbery and smoothish rather than dry, cracked, or lumpy.
- Body — get used to how your pup’s skin feels over his ribs and other bones, and how the underlying tissues feel beneath. Check that his skin appears supple and healthy, not reddened or scurfy, and that his hair is thick and shiny.
- Locate the glands next to the corner of your puppy’s jaw to check they are not swollen.
- Feel down your pet’s neck and back, across his chest, around his stomach, and down each limb. Feel for lumps and make sure that the tissues under your fingers aren’t painful.
- Check that his limbs are mobile and comfortable and that he is happy for you to manipulate them gently. Any swellings — particularly those that aren’t the same on both sides of the body — may be significant and stiff joints or pain associated with moving them can also indicate problems.
- Have a look at your puppy’s paws and check the nails aren’t too long. Check between his toes.
- Feel the base of his tail and have a look underneath for lumps near his bottom or genitals.
- Teeth and gums — puppy teeth should be clean with healthy looking gums. Your puppy will lose his milk teeth at around four months of age and at this time the gums may become sore and he may not enjoy you touching them. You still need to inspect his adult teeth once they have erupted. Brownish tartar on teeth can indicate an infection. There should be no redness, bleeding and/or discharge from the gums. While examining the mouth it is a good idea to clean teeth to help prevent dental problems; use a doggy toothbrush and toothpaste available from your vet or pet retailers.
Get your pup checked out
It's important to seek advice from your vet if your pup displays any of the following symptoms:
- He is lethargic, withdrawn, and unresponsive.
- He isn't eating.
- He has diarrhoea or struggles to pass stools.
- He has pale-looking gums or mucus membranes.
- He has a bulging, taut stomach.
- He has discharge from his ears, eyes, or nose.
- He is lame.
- He is scratching excessively or has bald or sore patches.
- He is wheezing or coughing.