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Five-Point Health Checklist

By Dr. Lisa S. Newman, Ph.D.

Become familiar with the following five-point health check list to keep your pet in top nutritional condition. This list will help you understand what is "healthy" for your pet so you can quickly indentify and address any nutritional weakness or digestive imbalance when it occurs. Have this information available the next time you visit your veterinarian to ensure good communication and the best possible care.

Five-Point Health Check List

1. Nutrition What type of food do you feed? How often do you feed? Is it well-balanced? Has your pet's eating habits recently changed? Has your pet's diet changed recently? Have you introduced any new supplements, treats, chewable toys, or food ingredients that may be creating a problem?

2. Digestion Is flatulence a problem and when (before eating or after, in the morning more than night)? Poor-quality foods, pancreatic imbalance (fatty, discolored stool) and parasitic infestations (rice or string-like bodies within the stool) can be quickly diagnosed by stool changes.

3. Elimination Does your pet have daily bowel movements? Has the stool smell, volume, color, or consistency changed? Major signs of illness can include vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation for more than twenty-four hours. Has your pet's normal daily intake of water changed? Is the urine now painful, scant, or bloody? Is there a metallic or sweet odor to it? Has your pet recently become incontent?

4. Body and Coat Condition Have there been changes in sheen or general condition? Are the eyes or ears symptomatic of liver imbalance (irritated, inflamed), the lips ulcerated, possibly indicating a nutritional deficiency? Dry flakes, dull coat or greasy, with hot spots, pimples? Excessive shedding, hair loss, scratching or licking, fur pulling, etc.? Coat and skin condition can aid in diagnosis of a health condition, especially those that involve the liver or kidneys.

5. Nervous System, Body, Joints, and Muscles Has your pet recently shown signs of confusion, lethargy, or uncontrollable shaking? Difficulty drinking or eathing? Any rapid weight changes? Has movement, especially up or down changed? Pain or limping? Restless sleep or exhaustion? Body odor, fever, or erratic pulse present?

Normal Body Temperature readings are best taken for one minute with a digital unit:

Dogs: 100 to 101.5 degrees Farenheit. The smaller dogs may have a higher normal temperature.

Cats: 100 to 102 degrees Farenheit. Some more energetic breeds, may have reading up to 102.2 degrees due to their higher metabolism.

Normal Heart Rate/Pulse: Taken inside the thigh on femoral artery:

Small Dogs: 90 to 120 beats per minute.

Large Dogs: 65 to 90 beats per minute.

Cats: 100 to 140 beats per minute.

Be sure to consider your pet's environment. Have you recently sprayed the yard for weeds or applied chemical pest control solutions in the house, yard, or even directly to your pet? Is your pet wearing a chemical base flea/tick collar? Are there any other poisons, radiator fluid, or toxic plants, such as poinsettias, accessible to your pet? Have you installed new floor covering that may be seeping formaldehyde or other toxins to which your pet is directly exposed? Has the quality of your pet's drinking water or diet changed? Has your pet been given a new medication or recent vaccination, especially within the last six weeks? All of these can initiate a toxic reaction that can result in digestive upset, weakened immune system, or cause digestive or eliminitory organ failure. Ninety percent of health related problems today are created by the pet's toxic environment and diet. It is vital that you know what your pet is exposed to.

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