An orange cat licking its pawsExamining your pet at home is a good way to catch problems early. This should not be used to replace your doctor visit, however, as your veterinarian has additional resources and training to evaluate your pet.  Here are some tips to assist you in checking your pet over.

Starting at your pet’s head, check the eyes for any discharge, cloudiness, sensitivity or loss of vision.

Next, lift up the ear flaps, smell the ears and look for debris or what may appear as dirt in the ears or redness on the ear flaps or outer ear. Normal ears should be clean and free of odor, with no redness.

Lift the lips and check for tartar on all the teeth. There should not be an offensive odor from the mouth. Are the gums red? Any discharge coming from the teeth?

Feel under the neck for any swelling.

Then check over their skin from head to tail and feel the skin as well as look for anything abnormal such as lumps, hair loss, dander, redness, scabs etc.

Next, you will check their legs. Start at the feet-check their toe nails and look for anything hidden between the pads, any redness between the toes on the top or underside. Note any swelling or pain as you handle the feet and limbs.

Next, lift up the tail and look underneath. Is there any stool present or evidence of diarrhea? Any swelling around the butt?

Finally, evaluate your pet’s weight. They should have a nice hour-glass figure when looking from the top down and a nice tuck in their abdomen when looking at the side view. Their hips, shoulders and bones in the spine should not be prominent.

Make sure to bring your pet in to have a veterinarian check them over at least once a year, and more frequently as indicated if there are any problems.