There are some health checks that are commonly performed whenever your pet visits the veterinary clinic. The veterinarian almost always begins with a physical, which usually includes the examination of the ears, eyes, and teeth. You can actually do a preliminary check of these at home. Being aware of potentially developing problems will help you keep your pet in the best possible health.
First, check your pet's ears for any debris or odd smells. Gently lift each ear out of the way and peek inside, making sure you do not stick anything into the ear. Look for any dirt-like or waxy debris, and pay attention to any strange odors. Often these signs can be indicative of a bacterial or yeast infection, or even of an ear mite infestation.
Inspect your pet's eyes by simply looking carefully. Observe for any thick mucus or watery discharge, and note any strange color if it's present. Check the eyes to see if they appear red or bloodshot, and if both eyes are opened completely or if they appear to squint. Also, look for any signs of scratching or inflammation on the skin around the eye.
To check your pet's teeth, gently lift the lip out of the way, making sure you check both the front and back teeth. First, study the gum line carefully. A healthy gum line is a nice pink color. If your pet's gum line is red or inflamed, it could be a sign of infection. Then, inspect the teeth. Normal teeth are clean and white, so look for any discoloration. You may notice a thick layer of “crust” on the surface of the teeth. This is called calculus, which is basically bacteria and food buildup and is a sign of dental disease. Finally, smell your pet's breath. Contrary to popular belief, dogs don't have to have “doggy” breath. If your pet's breath smells bad, it could be another sign of dental disease.
If you notice any of these signs, contact your veterinarian immediately for further advice. Always remember to be patient. Some pets are not accustomed to having their ears, eyes, and teeth looked at and may resist. If your pet shows any signs of aggression or discomfort, do not continue. Sometimes these health issues are painful and if you suspect your pet may be suffering, take her to your veterinarian for a more thorough examination.