Comprehensive Check-In Procedures

The right check-in process in the salon will go a long way in reveal much about a furry client's overall health.

It is important that we evaluate our furry clients each and every time they come into the salon by performing a comprehensive check-in to gather information on their overall health. Are they getting a good diet, plenty of exercise, and the right skin and coat care at home? This, and much more, will often be revealed with the right procedures. Here is how I do it:

I start my evaluation when the dog is walking in. I watch and listen. I evaluate its gait looking for limping, shuffling, leg dragging and any signs of an abnormal gait and I listen for the nails on the floor. If I see anything that is not normal, I strike up a conversation based on my visual evaluation. Then, when I am talking to the owner while holding or petting the pet, I will touch each of the important checkpoints as I am running my hands over it. It looks like I am just loving on the dog, but it is much more than that. When stroking the dog, I am looking for areas that are painful, lumpy, bumpy, swollen, hot or even cold, or if there are any noticeable changes to the animal from the last appointment. 

Thoroughly evaluating canine customers during each appointment is a great help in identifying any possible issues and bringing them to the owner’s attention early. This will help build a stronger rapport with the pet owners. Be sure to record the pet’s changes and date them.  

First, I evaluate the skin and coat, which often show signs of health issues sooner than any other part of the body. Normal skin and coat should have a shine to it with an even tone to the skin. It should also be mat free, in a perfect world. There should be no bad odors, no irregular spots on the skin surface, bald patches, or excessive shedding of skin or coat.  These abnormal conditions can run deep in the dog’s body and need an in-depth checkup from the vet.

Next, I check the eyes, which should be bright, with no tearing, discharge or redness, and the third eyelid should not stick out or be red.  There should not be discolored film over the eye, unless it is a previously identified cataract on an older pet. You can also pull down the eyelid, which should appear pink in color—if it is any other color, a vet check is in order.

Then I move to the ears, checking for odor, making sure they are a healthy pink with no discharge or sensitivity, and not warm to the touch.  I recommend regular at-home cleaning of ears that get plucked or have allergies to prevent issues. These pets are more prone to ear issues than others.

On to the nose and the mouth, which should always be moist. The nose should have no splits, dry spots or missing skin.  The mouth should have minimal odor with no swollen red or bleeding gums.  Healthy teeth should be in good condition and have very little plaque buildup. Keeping close tabs on teeth and gums is important because uncared for teeth can shorten a pet’s life because of the pet’s constant battle with infection.

Look for pink-colored gums. You can also check the capillary refill time by looking at the gums, to see if the pet has good blood flow. Press a finger on the gum line and release.  A healthy pet’s gums will turn white with the pressure and should come right back to their pink color in a couple of seconds. If the color is white, very light pink, yellow or a very dark color (except in dark pigmented breeds like Chows), send them to be checked by a vet as soon as possible. If a pet ever strikes you as having serious heart issues or is having trouble breathing, check the tongue for a blue or purple color and contact the vet immediately.

I then move to the rectum, checking for buildup of debris and any possible signs of anal gland problems, then the privates for any discharge or irritation.

Finally, I move on to the leg, paying special attention to nails.

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