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The Daily Check Up

Just like the saying "An apple a day keeps the doctor away", there are things you can do on a daily basis that can make all the difference in the world in the health of your dog.  The quicker you can catch something the more simple and cost effective the treatment or solution can be.

How your dog lives and moves every day is important. If you keep a watch on how your dog walks, sits, runs, plays, eats, swallows, eliminates, looks, and feels, everyday, you are more likely to notice when something changes with the possibility of a potential problem.

Here is a check list to help you keep that watch on your dog:

Paws and Legs

Play the One Foot Blue Foot game daily without the actual nail trim. This helps you locate any mats, foxtails, thorns or spines that might be lodged in the paws or up on the legs. You could do one nail everyday with the dremel as well to keep the nails at a good length.

Learn to stretch your dogs legs and do so at least once a week to ensure that full range of motion is maintained.

Teeth

Check your dogs teeth often for tartar build up, cracked, missing or broken teeth, smelly breath, discoloration of gums, bleeding or unusual growths or lumps in the mouth.  Difficulties in chewing, swallowing, excessive salivating or drooling or odd colors of drool can also indicate potential problems. Brushing your dogs teeth can be a very simple task. There is a brush I found that is circular and the bristles go all the way around the handle. Put the paste on it, put it in your dogs mouth and just start spinning it, your dog will do the rest.

Coat and Skin

Play Pet With Purpose daily and make sure to look for lumps and bumps.  Keep a brush and comb handy and learn how to use them to prevent tangles and mats in longer furred dogs, especially behind the ears and in the rear feathers around and below the tail. Even shorter furred dogs love the massaging type brushes which will also release the dirt from the shorter fur. I have two short furred dogs and the do collect dirt.

Spine and Posture

Maintaining a physical balance is necessary to assist in preventing illness and injury.  Learn the different stretches for the spine and tail and the movements of the hips and shoulders that help keep the balance structurally.  This will also give you warning when hip issues arise or there is an injury no matter how small to your dog.

Weight

Familiarize yourself with what you dog's breed should look like and the average weight. With mixed breed dogs this is of course hard to determine. The main things to remember are having a waist when looked at from above, being able to feel the ribs and hip bones but also feeling the skin and tissue over those bones. Many breeders and handlers of the larger breed dogs keep the puppies slender until maturity to help prevent hip issues later in life.

Ears

Ask your vet to look at your dog's ears and memorize what they look like in a normal state. Then check frequently for signs of redness or irritation.  There should be no dirt or hair inside the ears. Depending on the breed, the color will be different but never red or redish. Ears should smell like wax and dirt and nothing else. Frequent shaking of the head or scratching the ears could indicate problems and should be checked out.

Eyes

Keep the area around the eyes free of the build up of discharge. Most dogs will have some, some breeds more then others, but it should be wiped away with unscented baby wipes if normal movement doesn't keep it clean. Stains are usually an indication of internal issues, even in poodles and shih tzus.

Genital Areas

Keep your dog clean and trimmed in the private areas.  If you see any redness or irritation or strange discharge, consult your vet. 

In some dogs, particularly small dogs, anal glands may need to be expressed. However, with normal exercise this shouldn't be an issue. Do not let your groomer express anal glands just because. This can cause them to malfunction and then it becomes a regular issue.

Keep an eye out for excessive licking, irritation, redness or discharge from the vulva or penis or abnormal bleeding.  Also there could be a problem if your dogs penis stays visible for a longer than normal amount of time. It is also very important to check for any abnormal lumps or bumps in these areas and the nipple areas of female dogs.

The more you perform the daily check the quicker you will become at it.  You might even notice more bonding time with your dog while performing it.  It should become a ritual at least 3 times a week to just be with your dog with little to no other distractions.

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