Give your pet a home health check Regular vet visits are an important part of proper pet care, but in between appointments, here’s some simple things you can check to make sure your furry friend is in tip-top shape. Skin and Coat Your pet’s fur should be nice and shiny, and any bald patches need to be monitored. The presence of dandruff is a sign that your pet’s diet isn’t meeting all of their nutritional needs, and if their skin is often red, itchy and sore, or if you find any lesions, please visit your vet. Dogs with pink skin are more prone to cancer, so be sure to look for any new lumps, bumps or changes in skin pigmentation. Ears While a small amount of wax is normal, check for signs of debris, discharge, blood, dirt or excessive wax. In most cases, swelling or change in skin colouration isn’t normal, and any odour coming from your pet’s ears may require a vet visit. Eyes Eyes should be nice and clear, without any redness, excessive discharge or weeping. Nose Noses should be free of discharge and swelling, and you should always check for changes in skin pigmentation or sores that won’t heal. Mouth, Teeth and Gums Your pet’s teeth should be nice and white, and there shouldn’t be any chips. If your pet has tartar build up, it’s probably a good idea to visit your vet and talk to them about changing your pet’s diet or other dental care options. Healthy gums should be pink, so be sure to check for receding gums, bleeding or swelling. A healthy mouth should also be free of ulcers and lesions. Respiration Breathing should always be nice and even, with no raspiness. Any wheezing, coughing or an increased effort in breathing should be checked with a vet as soon as possible. Nails and Paw Pads Check the paw pads regularly, especially between the toes during grass seed season. Look for discolouration, lesions or bleeding, and if your pet is showing signs of lameness or their paws are sore to the touch, pay a visit to your local vet. If your pet’s nail needs a trim, ensure you’re not cutting too close to their quick as this can be very painful. Mobility Lack of mobility, favouring one limb, or lameness, is a sign that something is not quite right, so you should always keep an eye on how your pet moves. Are they having difficulty getting up or sitting down? Are they not as playful as usual? Your pet may be getting old, and could benefit from supplements or pain management medications. Your Pet’s Weight One of the most important things you can do for your pet’s health is ensure their diet and weight is monitored, as obesity is linked to diseases, including cancer and heart disease, and can put stress on organs and joints. Obesity is often an issue for older pets, who need to be switched over to special, low-calorie food as their energy levels decrease. Whereas, puppies and high energy dogs again need different food to meet their active lifestyles. How Do You Know if Your Pet is Overweight? Can you see your pet’s waist? When viewing your pet from above, you should be able to see an observable waist between the end of the rib cage and the start of the back legs. You can use this helpful scale from the World Small Animal Veterinary Association as a guide. Do you have difficulty feeling their ribs? When patting your animal, you should also be able to slightly feel their ribs. Does your pet easily tire with exercise or even low grade activity? Overweight animals can suffer from lethargy Does your pet have a constant supply of food and treats? A constant supply of food and treats can lead to over eating and associated health problems. You Know Them Best: Getting to know what's 'normal' for your pet is one of the best ways to spot potential health issues early. You'll learn how they breathe, how they smell all over, what noises they make, how they lie down, when and where they scratch, how warm they feel etc. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, it's best to contact your vet for a check as soon as possible.