Pet instructor skill review

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Comprehensive Assessment and Checking Vital Signs Example

Video 46 of 177
11 min 32 sec
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Pet Health Examination: Identifying Vital Signs and Abnormalities

1. Introduction

When conducting a thorough pet examination, you need to assess various factors and record vital signs. These signs include pulse rate, heart rate, respiratory rate, and, if possible, temperature and capillary refill time.

2. Assessing the Head

Start at the head and look for anything abnormal in your pet's appearance or behaviour. Knowing your pet's normal behaviour is essential for spotting changes.

2.1. Mouth and Gums

Inspect the mouth, lips, and gums for any unusual signs, including gum colour and capillary refill time. A healthy gum typically appears pink with a quick capillary refill.

2.2. Ears

Examine the ears for changes in colour, smell, discharge, or signs of pain. Dogs and cats may display discomfort if there's an issue in their ears.

3. Front Legs

Check the front legs for injuries, pain, swelling, or heat around joints. Pay attention to signs of bleeding and possible cuts.

4. Paws

Inspect the paws for bleeding, swelling, or signs of foreign objects. Ensure there's no pain when manipulating the limbs and joints.

5. Chest and Abdomen

Examine the chest for signs of bleeding, fur loss, or skin issues. Count the respiratory rate in breaths per minute (normal range varies) and check for any unusual symptoms.

5.1. Respiratory Rate

Determine the resting respiratory rate, keeping in mind that it varies between species and individuals.

5.2. Heart Rate

If possible, assess the heart rate using a stethoscope. The femoral pulse, located inside the back leg, is a common pulse site. The pulse rate should match the heart rate in healthy animals.

5.3. Other Pulse Sites

Depending on the situation, you may need to check pulses in different locations on the body, such as the back of the foot, between the carpus and the foot, or under the tongue in unconscious animals.

6. Back Legs and Tail

Examine the back legs for pain, bleeding, or swelling. Ensure flexibility and comfort during joint manipulation. Finally, check the tail for any abnormalities, fur loss, or signs of pain.