If all it took was 5 minutes every month to stay on top of your dog’s health or your cat’s health, would you make sure to carve out that time? Reminders usually increase the chances that any action becomes a habit. We want to encourage pet parents to create a monthly habit for logging their pet’s health, so we created Pet Health 5!
A log of your pet’s health can help you not only share information with your vet, but also stay on top of your pet’s wellness so that even the small things, like that new little bump on their side, are noticed quickly.
Every new pet parent knows that pet health is paramount in helping our cats and dogs live long, happy, and healthy lives. But it’s not always clear what encompasses “pet health” and what pieces of pet health we need to know.
Pet Health 5 is here to help. The main goal of Pet Health 5 is to encourage pet parents, like yourself, to take 5 minutes each month and use a checklist to check for 5 health signs on your cat or dog and log the results.
We deliver the checklist and a log that you can use every month to remind you to take the time to track your dog’s health or your cat’s health, and then you simply need to find 5 minutes to do a pet health check at home.
What 5 Pet Health Checks Should I Do Monthly and How?
Body Scan: How To Do a Body Scan of Your Dog or Cat
Finding a lump, a bump, a wart, or something else on your pet can sometimes be alarming. If you do find a lump, it can mean nothing. A lump on your dog or a bump on your cat could just be a harmless fatty mass. But, it could also be something more serious.
The best way to be aware when anything starts to grow on your pet that shouldn’t be there is to do a complete body scan each month and note anything you find.
Be sure to check between toes, behind ears, in ears, and in leg pits (yes, like an armpit, but cats and dogs don’t have arms). Don’t forget to look at their eyes, their bellies, and on the underside of their tail. A full body scan means taking note of every area of your pet’s body.
In order to do a body scan correctly, you need to look and feel. Some lumps and bumps are obvious to the eye, but many can only be felt.
Be sure to note what you find and where so you can share that with your vet and monitor those areas. If you are worried about something you find when you are checking over your pet’s whole body, be sure to contact your vet. Your vet can direct you on the next steps.
Temperature: How to Do a Temperature Check For Your Dog or Cat
Dogs and cats are different from people when it comes to their average body temperature. Their normal temperature is warmer than a human and it can range depending on the pet.
On average a dog’s normal body temperature is between 101 – 102.5, but every dog is different. It’s helpful for you to know the baseline for your dog. If you happen to have a dog that normally runs low, say around 100.5, then there might be a bit more to be concerned about if one day they are running at 102. However, it’s impossible to know whether 102 is normal or high for your dog, if you don’t know your dog’s baseline.
Same goes for cats. Cats body temperature, on average, is 101.5, and it can run between 101 – 102.5. Cats tend to be very stoic, so you may not even know if your cat has a slight fever, unless you are keeping an eye on their health each month and know what your own cat’s average body temperature is.
Taking your pet’s temperature isn’t an easy feat. The simplest way is a thermometer in their backend, unfortunately. However, new technology continues to emerge and we know there is an under-leg thermometer coming soon for pets.
You can learn more about taking your dog’s temperature here, and taking your cat’s temperature here.
Weight: How to Get Your Dog’s Weight or Your Cat’s Weight
Do you know what your dog or cat should weigh? Different breeds have different weight standards. You should check with your vet on what your dog or cat should weigh, but you can also monitor it at home to ensure they aren’t gaining or losing weight.
Fluffy cats can sometimes hide weight loss, which can be a sign of illness. It’s one of many reasons that it is important to keep track of your cat’s weight. Even if your cat isn’t fluffy, it’s important to recognize that a 10 lb cat who loses a pound has lost 10% of their weight. Imagine if you lost 10% of your weight. It can be significant.
Every dog is different, too, and how active they are can play a role in how much they eat and thus how much your dog weighs. If your dog gets a lot of treats throughout the day, that can add up to weight gain. Keeping an eye on your dog’s weight can help ensure a happier life for them.
The easiest way to weigh your cat is to hold them and get on a digital scale. Then weigh yourself alone and subtract your weight from the total weight when you were holding your cat. The resulting number is how much your cat weighs.
If you are able to pick up your dog, you can do that same process to weigh your dog. However, if you have a large dog you can either drop by your vet’s office to use the scale they have in their lobby, or see if your local groomer has a scale you can use. There are pet scales you can purchase, but they can be pricey.
Dental: How to Check your Dog’s Teeth or Your Cat’s Teeth
Dental care is imperative to your pet’s health because unhealthy teeth and gums can lead to many other issues including heart, kidney, and liver changes.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, “Periodontal disease is the most common dental condition in dogs and cats – by the time your pet is 3 years old, he or she will very likely have some early evidence of periodontal disease, which will worsen as your pet grows older if effective preventive measures aren’t taken.”
Taking a moment each month to take a look at your pet’s teeth and gums will help you catch any issues quickly and can get them taken care of.
If you have a puppy, watch as their adult teeth come in and make sure no teeth are cracked from chewy hard objects. If your dog is experiencing tooth pain you may notice them licking a lot.
Cat dental care can feel harder to keep track of because most cats are not into having you opening their mouth and taking a look around, but there are products that can help you take care of your cat’s teeth.
We encourage pet parents to make a daily habit of brushing your pet’s teeth. There are great products out there to help you take care of your dog’s teeth or your cat’s teeth.
Heart Rate: How to Take Your Dog’s Heart Rate or Your Cat’s Heart Rate
Heart health in your dog or cat is vital to their overall health. It’s also a way to know if something might be wrong. An elevated heart rate could be a sign that a vet visit is in order.
The average heart rate of a small dog is 80 to 130 beats per minute. A large dog is 60 to 100 beats per minute. Always ask your vet if there is an average based on your dog’s breed. We know that greyhounds tend to have a lower average heart rate than other large dogs due to their very athletic builds. But most importantly, get to know your dog’s average heart rate so that you have a baseline for what is normal for them.
The average heart of a cat is higher than that of a dog. A cat’s heart rate is 160 to 180 beats per minute, depending on their breed and activity level. Newborn kittens can have a heartbeat up to 220 beats per minute.
It’s easy to take your cat’s heart rate or dog’s heart rate at home with the timer on your phone and hand on their chest. Simply count the number of beats you hear in 15 seconds and multiply that number by 4.
Keep a Monthly Log of Your Pet Health Checks
All these stats of your dog’s health or your cat’s health are only helpful if you keep a log of them. That’s why we created a reoccurring reminder email with the five things to check. You can receive the email reminder each month along with a special monthly health tidbit.
It’s easy to take the time to do this, but it can be hard to remember or make the time to do it. Leave that part to us.
Subscribe to our Pet Health 5 emails and we’ll send you a reminder email with your monthly checklist, so the next time you are at the vet, you can share how your dog or cat has been doing with these 5 pet health monitoring tips.
You can help us encourage more pet parents to track their pet’s health by sharing pictures of your pet health checks on social using #PetHealth5. Tag @allpetvoices so we can give you a high paw!
There are many aspects to your pet’s health from nutrition to exercise to enrichment to the Pet Health 5. Always consult your vet with any questions.
Will you join us on the Pet Health 5 journey?