At Home Dog Health Checks

Simple Home Check-ups to Detect Disease in Pets

If you’re like me you’re hyper-vigilant when it comes to detecting changes in your pooch’s or kitty’s behavior. Yet there have been times when symptoms of illness have gotten past me until they were extremely ill.

Here are some tips from pet experts at to help pet parents perform simple check-ups at home (in between regular vet visits) on Fido and Felix from the comfort of an easy chair!

  • Monitor your pet’s temperature with a special pet thermometer you can buy at one of the many great Capital District pet supply stores. Or ask your pet’s vet for their thermometer recommendations. The typical average temperature in cats ranges between 100° F —102.5 °F (37.7 °C — 39.1° C). For dogs, the average temperature is 101° F (38° C). One or two degrees lower or higher is nothing to cause concern. 
  • Monitor your pet’s heart rate — To do this correctly you will need a free hand, a watch, stopwatch or smartphone.

CATS — You should place your hand on your cat’s chest in an area behind their elbow. Count their heartbeats for 15 seconds and multiply the sum by 4. Another technique is to put two fingers on the inside of the groin and detect a pulse. The normal feline heart rate is 140-220 beats per minute.

DOGS — Place the palm of your hand on your dog’s chest just below the armpits. The normal canine heart rate ranges from

70 to 120 beats per minute, depending on the dog’s size.

  • Check for Eye Problems — Both cats and dogs are prone to eye issues, which can lead to partial or complete blindness if not detected or treated in a timely fashion. Be sure to always clean dirt from your pet’s eyes and take any signs of inflammation seriously by scheduling a visit to the vet immediately. 
  • Routinely Check Ears for Mites and Scratches — Itchy ears are always suspect. Be sure to carefully examine the inside of your pet’s ears and schedule an appointment with the vet if you notice:

1. Painful or highly sensitive areas in the ear

2. Foul odor emanating from the ear

3. Inflamed skin in the ear

4. Appearance of lumps or bumps

5. Something moving within the ear

6. A build-up of wax

  • Check Your Pet’s Teeth — Dental health in pets is as important as it is in humans. Untreated decay and infection can lead to organ damage and shorten your pet’s life, as well as cause great pain and discomfort. Your pet should have a professional dental cleaning once a year and should have their teeth monitored by you on a regular basis. Bad breath, broken or loose teeth, abnormal chewing or slobbering, poor appetite and refusal to eat, as well as bleeding and pain around or inside the mouth can be signs of dental disease.

If you can, get into the habit of brushing your pet’s teeth every day to protect those doggy and kitty smiles. Your vet can show you how to introduce tooth-brushing to your pet. And they can also recommend some of the best tartar-removing treats on the market.

  • Keep a Close Eye on Your Pet’s Coat and Skin — Routinely checking for scratches and parasites can help you detect mites, fleas and ticks. Simply run your hands over their coat whenever they come indoors. If they are strictly an indoor pet you should still check their coat and skin for any unwelcome guests that could have hitched a ride into the home on another pet or your own clothing. 
  • Cleaning your pet’s paws with baby wipes each time they step into the house and checking paws and claws for potential infections or injuries is also recommended. 

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