Performing a puppy health check at home

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Routinely performing a health check on your puppy is a great way to get them used to being handled. This will prove to be invaluable for trips to the vet and groomer.

Always start slowly when performing a health check on your puppy. It helps if you initially try this when they are well exercised and tired, therefore less fidgety when you begin. Like all things puppy, little and often is the key. Reward your puppy with treats as you go to ensure it’s a positive experience for your pup.

Start by stroking your puppy all over from his nose right down to their tail, including down each leg. Make it a positive experience, a puppy massage! Include a belly rub while checking for any redness or marks on their skin. It’s important to feel between your puppy’s toes. Getting your puppy used to this will make nail clipping an easier experience for both you and your puppy. Ensure you check there are no grass seeds or debris caught between your puppy’s toes and no broken nails that could cause discomfort. It’s also important to check if your puppy has dew claws. These may need extra clipping as they won’t wear down on their own. Some breeders remove dew claws, so don’t be alarmed if your puppy doesn’t have them. Although most puppies have them only on their front legs, some pups are born with rear dew claws as well so it pays to check all legs.

Observe your puppy’s face. Is everything symmetrical? Check your puppy’s eyes to make sure they are bright and clear. Look for any irregular discharge or redness. If you see something that doesn’t seem right, contact your veterinarian for advice. Check that your puppy’s nose is moist. Lift your puppy’s lip up and check their gums. It’s important to know what your puppy’s gums usually look like so if you note any changes you can seek advice immediately. While checking gums, have a look at their teeth. Does everything look as it should? What does your pups tongue look like? Getting your puppy used to having their mouth looked at will make it much easier when it comes time for a vet check as well.

Check each ear. Look into your pup’s ear and check for any redness or smell. A strong smell can be an indication of an infection. By regularly playing and checking your puppy’s ears it will be easier to gauge their reaction when something is wrong or when they are sore.

Make a note or take a photo of any changes you find on your puppy’s physical condition so you can communicate these to your vet. If there is anything that concerns you, ring your vet clinic for advice.