National Pet Month: 6 simple dog and cat health checks you can perform at home

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Being a pet owner is a big responsibility, as you have to keep your furry friend fed, watered, happy and healthy.

And part of this is being able to do some simple checks on your cat or dog at home, so that you can be sure to keep them in the best of health. National Pet Month (April) is the perfect time to remind yourself of these all-important checks, and perhaps learn some new ones.

These checks include making sure that your pet's eyes, nose, teeth, nails and skin are all in good condition, as well as checking for fleas. It's advised to do these checks regularly, as many pets are very good at hiding when something is wrong. They often don't want to bother their beloved humans, so it's good to take a closer look to ensure that all is well with them.

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Pet healthcare experts Bob Martin have devised a simple 6-step home health check for responsible cat and dog owners. Here they are …

6 simple health checks for your pet you can do at home6 simple health checks for your pet you can do at home
6 simple health checks for your pet you can do at home


Checking your pet's nose is often an easy way to start their check-up. Their nose should be:

Soft and moist

Clear, with your dog or cat able to breathe easily

Free from any snot or other kind of discharge

You'll need to take them to the vet for a more detailed check-in if their nose:

Has any snot or discharge on it

Is obstructing their breathing

Is cracked or dry.


Both cats and dogs should have clear, healthy eyes, and there should be no discomfort exhibited by the animal in this area, such as itching and scratching their eyes with their paws or rubbing their face on the furniture regularly. Your pet's eyes should:

Be clear and bright

Be free from tears or any kind of discharge

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Have a fleshy area around the eyeball (called the conjunctiva) that is salmon pink

You will need to take your animal to the vet if their eyes are:

Looking sore or red in any way

Weeping or exhibiting discharge

Being held closed or squinting


It's often easy to overlook that your pet's ears need checking, as problems with the ears can often be more difficult to spot than issues with the eyes or nose. So, taking time to give your pet's ears a more thorough look is a good measure to take. Your animal's ears should be:

Free of any bad smells

Coloured pink inside

Free from any earwax built up

Neatly standing up or flat depending on the animal's breed and ear type

Take your pet to the vet if their ears are:

Swollen or uncomfortable-seeming

Smelly or full of earwax

Causing them to scratch or shake their head a lot

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Your pet's coat is often one of the first things that let you know there is a problem with their health. You will likely be used to how their specific coat should look, so use your judgement and take them to the vet if you feel something has changed unexpectedly. Your pet's coat should be:

Free from ticks, fleas, or other parasites

Free from dry skin or dandruff

Free from knots

Free from bald patches

Take your furry friend to the vet if their coat:

Becomes matted or knotted

Shows signs of having fleas or ticks

Shows signs of dandruff or flaky skin


Once you've examined your pet's coat, you should take a closer look at their skin. While you might not be able to see it as easily, it's important to make sure that it is healthy. Your pet is doing well if their skin is:

Smooth, without signs of dryness

Free from rashes and unexpected bumps

Free from wounds, discharge or infections

Make sure to take your animal to the vet if their skin is:

Sore, itchy or showing rashes

Dry or flaky

Moist or wet in certain areas

Teeth and gums

Most dogs and cats don't enjoy having their teeth and gums examined, so you might have to coax them into letting you take a look inside their mouth. Doing this check regularly however will get your pet used to the experience, and you will hopefully find that it becomes easier each time. Your animal's teeth and gums should be:

Clean and white

Not showing any missing teeth (except ones you know they've had removed)

Free from stains, breaks or cracks

Moist and flesh-coloured, and free from lumps and bumps

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Make an appointment with your vet to examine or clean their teeth if they are:

Missing any unexpected teeth

Broken or showing cracks

Stained or have a build-up of plaque

Not the normal colour for their flesh, or showing signs of swelling