This excellent article is courtesy of  Freeonlinevet.com

When examining your pet, look at the overall condition of your pet. The body systems and conditions to monitor can be examined at home using the following:


  1. Are they draining?
  2. Is the pet squinting excessively?
  3. Are they red?
  4. Do they buldge?
  5. Are they painful?
  6. Does the pet act blind or bump into objects?


  1. Are they clean?
  2. Does the pet shake its head?
  3. Does the pet rub its head on the floor?
  4. Does the pet paw at its ears?
  5. Does the pet hear you?

Mucous membranes

  1. Are the pets gums pink? If no, your pet may have a low red blood cell count, be in shock, or have a low blood volume
  2. When you place pressure against the pets gums and release, does the color return quickly? The normal time is less than two seconds, if longer your pet may be dehydrated.


  1. Check for tartar build up on the teeth.
  2. Check for a red line being present above the teeth. If this is present, your pet may have gingivitis.
  3. Does the pet have oral ulcers? This could be caused by kidney disease, dental disease, viruses, electrocution, or a variety of others.
  4. Does your pet have bad breath? This could occur due to bacteria and thus infection.
  5. Are there any tumors present?

Respiratory system

  1. Is the pet breathing fast?
  2. Is the pet coughing?
  3. Does the pet breathe with abdominal contractions?
  4. Does the elbows point out when breathing?

Cardiovascular system

  1. Does the patient have exercise intolerance?
  2. Does the patient cough?
  3. Does your pet have trouble with the respiratory system?
  4. Is your pet’s activity below normal?

Lymph nodes

Pets have lymph nodes throughout the body. Some of the lymph nodes can be felt and some cannot. The lymph nodes which can be palpated include the following:

1. Submandibular – these lymph nodes are located at the angle of the lower jaw

2. Prescapular – these lymph nodes are located in front of the shoulder

3. Popliteal – these lymph nodes are located in the hamstring portion of the hind leg

Lymph nodes are normally only noticed by owners when they are abnormal. The common reasons for lymph node enlargement include infection and cancer.


Your pet should have a nice thick hair coat that is not dull in color. The following signs can represent a skin disease:

  1. Excessive hair loss
  2. Patient scratching
  3. Bumps on the skin
  4. Licking and biting of the skin

Here’s a couple of videos where you can see how you can examine your pet at home:

What are your thoughts on this post? If you have any comments or questions, please write below. We welcome and appreciate your feedback!

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April 16, 2014 |

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