Home Health Check
for Dogs and Cats

by Gary Le Mon
Dog with thermometer in mouth

Here’s an easy home health check for dogs and cats. Since pets are beloved members of our families, keeping them happy and healthy for as long as possible is a top priority. 

It’s important to keep an eye out for any changes or possible signs of illness that might occur even if regular veterinary visits and proper feeding, grooming and exercise are already staples in your dog or cat’s life. 

This simple home health check for dogs and cats will help you stay in tune with your pet’s health. It will help you catch early warning signs of possible disease or illness. Use it once a month in between your annual vet visits to help recognize what’s normal for your pet and when there’s reason for concern.

Head Check

Start with checking for signs of trouble around your pet’s head. The eyes should be clear and free of discharge. Check for cloudiness over the lenses. This is often a sign of cataracts in dogs or cats.   

The ears should be kept clean and should not be wet, oily, waxy or have a foul odor. Excessive scratching of the ears or head shaking could be signs of infection. If this is the case, flush your cat or dog’s ears with warm water and dry them thoroughly. If the problem persists, you may want to use a quality herbal cat and dog ear cleaner such as EarMist Herbal Cat & Dog Ear Cleaner.

The nose should be cool and moist. It is a myth that a warm and dry nose is always a sign of illness in a dog. Short periods of dryness are normal, but if your dog’s nose is dry and cracked for a long period of time, you may want to pay a visit to your holistic veterinarian. Excessive nasal discharge can also be a sign of possible cat or dog immune deficiency and should be examined as well.

Be sure to do a cat and dog dental check of teeth and gums. Check for bad breath (a sign of excess oral bacteria) and any broken teeth or sores. The gums should be a healthy pink in color. Red gums could be a sign of infection such as gingivitis.

Do a capillary refill test on your dog’s gums. Lift a corner of his lip and gently but firmly press against the gums with your thumb for a few seconds. Release your thumb and immediately examine the area. The gums will have turned white under the pressure of your thumb, but should immediately return to their normal pink color. If it takes several seconds for the color to return to the gums, or if your dog’s gums are an abnormally pale color, your dog may be dehydrated or ill.

Body Check

Now your home health check for dogs and cats will move on to your pet’s body. Run your hands over his entire coat feeling for any abnormal lumps or bumps. If you feel something unusual, you can use your fingers to gently determine whether or not it moves with the skin or if it is attached at a deeper level. In either case, you may want to have a veterinarian look at it.

A bump below the skin could be a tumor, which may or may not indicate cat or dog cancer but should be examined as soon as possible. Make sure to observe whether or not touching the area seems to cause pain to your dog or cat.

After checking your pet’s entire body for bumps, be sure to check his legs and feet. Watch him move at a walk and a run for a few minutes. Watch for any abnormalities in gait. Any difference in movement or limping could be a sign of injury or neurological problems and should be assessed by a veterinarian as soon as possible. 

Run your hands down all four legs, feeling for any abnormalities. Gently press the pads of your pet’s feet, watching for signs of pain and feeling for any sores or foreign objects stuck between toes.

Fleas and Ticks

Now check visually for fleas and/or ticks in the coat. If found, please use a safe and effective natural flea control such as TripleSure All-Natural Flea and Tick Spray for Dogs and Cats. If you have concerns about using essential oils on your cat, please use TripleSure NEO (No Essential Oils) Flea and Tick Spray for Cats and Kittens to avoid painful cat flea bites.

You’re finished! If you found anything of concern, be sure to follow up with your holistic veterinarian. If you make this home health check for dogs and cats a frequent habit, you’ll be sure to more easily recognize when something is amiss with your pet. Dog and cat lovers agree it’s a pretty important five minutes of your time.

Home health check for dogs and cats

Articles About Dogs and Cats