At some point during the day or night you should always take the time to have a cuddle, scratch and grooming session with your dog or cat.
There are a variety of reasons for this. On an animal level the grooming of another member of the pack is an important way to bond. For humans beings scratching or grooming a pet will lower your stress levels, for example.
By cuddling, scratching and grooming your pet it gives you a chance to check on the health of your pet. You should:
- Running your hands lightly over their whole body. Watch their body language. Do they stay relaxed when you do this or do they tense up and try to leave when your hand comes to a section of their body.
- Check your pet's eyes. As your pet ages they may start to have eye problems. Make sure there is no unusual discharges. Are the eyes clear in the pupil?
- Are the whites of your pet's eyes white?
- Make sure to check your pet's teeth. Are the teeth a healthy white and are the gums a red or dark pink colour.
- Feel around their heads and down around their necks, do this slowly as you scratch. Are there any odd skin issues or lumps?
- Check your pet's belly and chest by laying them on the ground. Check for rashes, lumps or parasites.
- Feel around the pads of your pet's feet and in between the pads do this when your pets relaxed and don't be harsh when you do, keep it gentle.
- Listen to your pet's breathing when their asleep. Is it deep and clear without any whistling or gurgling noises.
If the answer is no to any of the above you should consider taking your pet to a vet for a check up
If there is one thing I've learnt from pets over the years is they are stoic.
Many pets just won't let on there is something wrong by crying for example. Pets will just keep on keeping on. So it is up to the pet owners to watch like a hawk over your pet's well being. If there are changes in their routine, how they pass their waste, how they walk, where they go, how they go up stairs, how they reacted to a suddenly addition of furniture by walking in to it can all be signs of a change in health.
By grooming or scratching you are actively looking for something odd, like a lump or if their gums aren't white, or if your pet's eyes aren't clear you should take your pet to the vets.
By having the issue addressed there is less worry for you and in the long term could mean a long and happy life for your pet.