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Whenever your pet is injured or unwell, you want to be doing an initial assessment of their whole body and just look for any signs of where the injury or illness may be coming from. So you would always start at the head end and I would suggest starting with the nose, mouth. When you look at the nose, you're just looking at the colour, the discharge. Is there any sign of pain there? So has the animal scratched at it or rubbed it, indicating that it may be uncomfortable? Look in the mouth, and you are looking at the lips and at the teeth; gums at the same time. So you want to be looking all the way back into that mouth. Underneath, there may be that there is a cut there. There may be some blood coming from the mouth. You should be looking all the way up both sides and you also, if possible, want to be opening their mouth and just having a quick look inside to see if there is anything on the inside or on the tongue.

You are then going to move up, and the whole time, just with both hands be constantly feeling around wherever you are on the animal, checking your hand as well. Is there any blood or discharge there that may indicate where that illness or injury may have occurred? Have a good look in the ears. Again, be looking for colour and discharge and pain when you are palpating them. Look on both ears there. Coming back over the shoulder and the neck and the top of the spine, you then move with both hands down each of the front legs, and if you can, be feeling on the outside and the inside of the leg as you are coming down. And with animals they will often get claw injuries, so make sure you are looking at all of the digits, all of the toes and checking that they are all intact, again, no bleeding or discharge from them. Under the foot, look in the pads. It may be that they have a thorn or a foreign body in there, so you want to be looking and just feeling more to see if you can feel or see anything at all. If there is pain there they are going to let you know, because they will be pulling their foot back or be yelping or showing you some sign that they are not happy with you doing that. Over the chest, feel all the way underneath, again, checking your hands; there is nothing on there, just making sure that there is no injuries, the same over the abdomen.

Back legs; if you can, I would suggest getting them to stand up. It is always easier to then feel the whole length of the leg if they are in this position. Again, feel over the top, around the outside, around the inside and all the way down, and again, checking all the toes, the digits, the claws and making sure everything is intact. If there is no evidence of pain or injury there, what you may want to then do is just do a little movement and just make sure that they are happy to have their legs moved and put in different positions, and if they are not, if they are turning around and telling you to stop, or they pull that leg back, then you know that probably you have found the location of where the injury has occurred. If they are happy for you to move everything around then normally they are quite comfortable with their legs.

Whenever you are examining a pet it is always worth remembering that their temperament may not be quite the same as Elsa's. She is a very laid back, placid dog and obviously she is very used to me having a good feel over her for checking for wounds and injuries. So always bear in mind that your own safety is paramount when you are doing an examination on any pet.