General health check for pets

Time to read: 4 mins

Let’s ensure our pets stay on track and healthy going into the Spring, by doing a general health check at home.

The most effective way of doing this is by getting to know what is normal for your pet. Feel them all over regularly so you can get used to the body shape and the way the skin feels. Check their gum colour, how the tummy feels, what their nails look like – all of these things will set you in good stead because if you know what “normal” feels like you will quickly notice when something looks or feels different.

In a veterinary consultation, your vet will start off with what’s known as a “nose to tail” examination. You can do a version of this at home that will help you get to know what is normal for your pet.  Choose a time when your dog or cat relaxed and have some tasty treats on hand! Start at the nose and work down the body to the tip of the tail.


  • Nose – does is look healthy, check for crusty areas and listen for changes in breathing noises
  • Mouth – lift the lip and check the gum colour, salmon pink is the norm, but some animals have black pigment and that’s also normal for them. Check the teeth, look for broken ones or any plaque build up
  • Eyes – are they bright and clear, no discharge or redness
  • Ears – check for wax build-up, have a sniff, do they smell any different Is there any redness in the ear canal
  • Forelimbs – feel down both legs and the paws, can you feel any changes, are all the claws intact
  • Trunk – feel along the back, the ribs and the chest underneath checking for new lumps and bumps
  • Hindlimbs – just the same as the front legs and paws
  • Tail – feel the tail gently, particularly the base checking for anything that is different


Ideally, this should be done once a month to help you spot any changes quickly. If you do think anything has changed and you are not sure if you should be concerned, then give one of the UK Registered vet nurses a call on the Scratch & Patch 24/7 Careline to talk it through.

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