A good procedure is to start from the tip of the nose and go to the tip of the tail. Check your pet’s teeth for any discolored areas, inflamed gums or broken or cracked teeth. A buildup of plaque or tartar suggests you have not been consistent with dental care over the winter. There are many chews, toothpastes and other dental products for dogs and cats that can help get your pet’s smile back on track.
Feel carefully behind ears and in the armpit area for any small mats that may have built up with the wet winter weather. Trim these carefully – slipping a comb in between your pet’s skin and the mat when you go to cut, then guiding the scissors over the comb. You can also try a mat splitter for areas where you want to save the coat. Check the hair around the paws and in between pads as well. Small mats can build up there and be very uncomfortable for long-haired dogs and cats. Be sure to also trim your pet’s nails if it’s been a while.
If you normally shave your dog (or cat) for the summer, think about doing so now. That way, your pet will have some hair cover before hot summer days when bright sun could cause sunburns. An older pet that dislikes grooming might do well with just a partial shave.
Continue working your way down your pet’s body. Try to be objective as you evaluate his weight. If your pet is a bit pudgy, consider upping his exercise and decreasing his calories. Dogs may need to build up to longer walks and cats may need more interactive playtime. Be sure to speak with a veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet.
Look in the hair for any evidence of fleas or ticks. Fleas will run and be hard to spot but they leave behind eggs and flea feces – which looks like pepper. Put a dab of this grit on a white paper towel and add a drop of water. It will turn red from blood if this is truly flea material. If you find fleas or ticks, you’ll need to treat the animal and the environment. Even if you don’t find any parasites, monthly flea protection monthly flea protection is a good idea.