Animal Care

General appearance checks (species specific)

Look at overall appearance for any signs that a more in-depth health check may be necessary, including:

           Obvious signs of discharge from eyes or nose

           Signs of excessive scratching

Bald patches/damaged scales or skin.

 

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Rate the body condition of mammals (body condition

1— meaning that ribs, spine and pelvic bones are easily visible, obvious loss of muscle mass, no palpable fat on the chest.

2—meaning that ribs, spine and pelvic bones visible, obvious waist, minimal abdominal fat.

3– meaning that ribs, spine and pelvic bones not visible but easily palpable (felt through skin), obvious waist, little abnormal fat.

4—meaning that ribs, spine and pelvic bones are hardly palpable, waist is absent, heavy abdominal fat deposits.

5– meaning that there are massive fat deposits over chest, spine and abdomen, lack of waist, distended abdomen.

 

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Weekly physical checks

Weekly physical checks on eyes

Healthy eyes in all species:

           Clear, bright and round

           No discharge

Unhealthy eyes in dogs, cats, rabbits, goats and chickens:

Visible discharge

Visible third eyelid (nictitating membrane)

Cloudy appearance

Bloodshot appearance

Unhealthy eyes in bearded dragons:

Shed scales stuck on eyelids, swelling, droopy eyes.

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Weekly physical checks on ears

Healthy ears in dogs, cats, rabbits and goats.

         Moveable

           Clean

           Having no visible signs of ear mites

           Being warm to the touch

Unhealthy ears in dogs, cats, rabbits and goats

Unresponsive to sound

Dirty or waxy inside

Showing signs of ear mites (black or red spots and increased wax production).

Head tilting to one side indicating possible ear infection.

Unhealthy ears in chickens and bearded dragons

Blockage

Damage to membrane.

 

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Weekly physical checks on nose

Healthy nose nostrils:

           In dogs, cats and goats—moist to the touch

           In rabbits—a dry, twitching nose

           In chickens and bearded dragons—clean and free from discharge

In all species in the specified range—no visible signs of injury or discharge from the nose.

Unhealthy nose/nostrils:

In dogs, cats and goats—dry and cracked

In chickens and bearded dragons: thin, stringy mucus coming out of the nose.

In all species in the specified range: discharge (clear/thick and coloured) or crusty build up around the nostrils.

 

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Weekly physical checks on mouth and teeth

Healthy mouth and teeth in dogs, cats, rabbits and goats:

           All teeth are present (identification of diastema in rabbit dentition)

           All gums are pink and healthy in colour (although some breed variations in dogs eg, Chow Chow having black gums) with a capillary refill time of between 1 and 2 seconds.

Unhealthy mouth in dogs, cats, rabbits and goats:

Damaged or missing teeth

Overgrown or chipped teeth

Foul smelling breath

Excessive drooling around the mouth

Slow capillary refill time (longer than 1—2 seconds)

Evidence of redness along gums

Tartar build-up on teeth

Healthy beak in chickens

Each half of the break should meet equally (might need trimming regularly)

No teeth present

Unhealthy beak in chickens

Overgrown of one half of the beak.

Healthy mouth in bearded dragon

Mouth full of small cone shaped teeth

Teeth are white and all present

Gums are pale pink in colour

Unhealthy mouth in bearded dragon

Missing teeth

A presence of pus

A yellowing of the gums or teeth.

 

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Weekly physical checks on coat/fur/scales/feathers

Healthy coat and fur in dogs, cats, rabbits and goats

Full and glossy

Unhealthy coat and fur in dogs, cats, rabbits and goats:

Dull, greasy and patchy

Knotted or tangled

Bald patches

Healthy skin in dogs, cats, rabbits and goats:

Has elasticity (when pinch test is done, it bounces back in 3 seconds)

No visible lumps, bumps or cuts

Colour is breed dependent but there should be no redness of the skin.

Unhealthy skin in dogs, cats, rabbits and goats:

Flaky or shows evidence of dandruff

Redness

Swelling

Cuts or abrasions

Has little elasticity, tenting when the skin is pinched (usually due to dehydration).

Healthy scales in legs of chickens and in bearded dragons.

Lying flat against the body and all pointing in the same direction.

Shiny in appearance (although they become dull when due to shed). N.B. Shedding can be assisted by bathing a bearded dragon or by misting its tank (increased humidity).

Unhealthy scales in legs of chickens and in bearded dragons.

Sticking outwards or facing in different directions

Mites or ticks are present in between scales.

 

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Weekly physical checks on limbs and paws/feet/hoov

Healthy limbs:

           Free moving and gait is comfortable with no signs of pain

Unhealthy limbs:

           Have signs of damage (cuts or abrasions)

           Movement of limb or touching of limb results in animals hsowing signs of pain (vocalisation, change in temperament).

Healthy paws/feet/hooves

Free movement with no sign of pus

Unhealthy paws/feet/hooves

Signs of damage (cuts/abrasions)

Movement or touching of paws results in animal showing signs of pain (vocalisation, change in temperament)

Dirt or debris in between pads

Holding paw/foot/hoof off the ground when walking or for long periods of time when standing.

 

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Weekly physical check on claws/hooves

Healthy claws in dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens and bearded dragons:

Not overgrown

Full and clean with no splits in them

Cats’ claws should be fully retracted when walking

Unhealthy claws in dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens and bearded dragons:

Cracked, flaky or split

Overgrown (with extreme overgrowth, they may need the toes to be pushed up, or will curl around and grow into the pad of the paw).

Healthy hooves in goats

Even in length, with even spread of weight over their surface.

Unhealthy hooves in goats

Overgrown front tips

Evidence of redness/swelling in between the two parts of the hoof.

 

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Weekly physical check on anogenital area

Healthy anogenital area in all species in the specified range:

           Clean surrounding fur/feathers/scales

           No redness or swelling

           In dogs and cats, the anal glands are empty when palpated (described as being located just below the anus,as though at 8 and 4 on a clock face).

Unhealthy anogenital area in all species in the specified range

Redness and swelling

Discharge

Faecal matter stuck in fur/feathers or on scales

Worm segments visible

In dogs and cats, impacted anal glands.

 

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