The wind is blowing ever so slightly, you’re watching him run towards you frisbee in mouth. “Good boy!” you say when he reaches you, as you lovingly run your hands all over him, and then you feel it. A hard lump the size of a golf ball on his back. “What?!What is this?” you think “How long has it been here, why haven’t I seen this before?” You throw the frisbee again, but you can’t enjoy the moment because all you keep thinking of is That Lump. Afternoon cut short. Vet visit the next day. It isn’t good news, Stage II cancer.
Because we’re with our pets on a daily basis we wont notice changes until sometimes it’s literally at an in your face “Here I am” stage. Something as devastating as cancer needs to be caught early to help with the prognosis and a Snout-to-Tail Assessment will help you notice the subtle changes that can occur, from ticks to lymphoma you can catch it during this bonding moment of love and care. Not all illnesses or disorders will be caught, for internal reasons, however if you know what to look for and know the normal for your pet you can help keep him as healthy for as long as possible.
First thing I do when a client is dropped off for boarding or doggie daycare is a Snout-to-Tail Assessment. I always have, instinctively even before I became a Pet Tech Pet First Aid Instructor and now that I have some knowledge behind the instinct I find it’s a must for all my clients.
All the furkids love it, but it definitely needs to be done one on one, it’s practically impossible to do an assessment with the other kiddos trying to get in on it.
I always start with Brezzi my chocolate lab, make sure she’s comfortable and relaxed. I love on her, talk to her, and check out her nose as she attempts to give me kisses moving my fingers over her muzzle making sure there isn’t any abnormal discharge, cracks, or lumps. Then I check her mouth, her gums and teeth wanting her gums to be a bubble gum pink checking to make sure she’s hydrated and her teeth are nice and white with none missing or cracked. I’ll check her eyes and ears for any abnormalities. As I run my hands over her head; lovingly she looks at me like she’s been drugged enjoying every minute of this one on one attention I make sure her crown and skull is clear of abrasions and masses. I’ll hold Brezzi facing me gently but with intention cup my hand down her neck and spine checking for tenderness and then roll her over to check her chest, ribs, and breathing. Brezzi’s legs and paws are next, making sure the movement of each leg are the same, making sure her claws and pads are normal with no cracks and debris. Brezzi is comfortable with this, Tango my rottweiler is a different story, it takes some time and I have to be very gentle because he can’t take it, I swear he’s ticklish poor thing. At one of the back legs I’ll check her heart rate by placing my middle two fingers on the inside of her upper thigh where the femoral artery is. Brezzi’s normal relaxed rate is 88bpm. Next is her abdomen and genitals. I’ll palpate the tummy area with a flat hand checking for painful or hard areas, checking her mammary glands and her female parts making sure it’s nice a clean with no discharge. Lastly, I check her tail, skin, and coat.
The Snout-to-Tail Assessment doesn’t take long as soon as the two of you get use to the routine and ideally would be done once a week. You’ll find yourself looking forward to these calm bonding times and could easily catch a devastating disease early on and with the vets help beating it before it beats your pet.
The Snout-To-Tail Assessment also helps each pet become comfortable with touch, even the sensitive areas like Tango and his paws. This will help your pet sitter, trainer, vet, and groomer while they work with them. They’ll be excellent patients and clients!
As a Pet Tech Pet First Aid Instructor I teach the Snout-To-Tail Assessment in the Pet Savor Pet CPR, First Aid & Care, restraining and muzzling, primary assessment, rescue breathing, canine and feline CPR, choking, bleeding, shock management, pet vitals, first aid kit essentials, bites, stings, heat and cold injuries, seizures, and caring for your senior pet are all included in the 6-8 hour class.