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Examine the gums!

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  • Examine the gums!

    Yesterday I had a Springer in for a field trim. I noticed when she came in that she looked thin. Too thin. When I got her on the table to check her over, prior to her bath, I realized just how too thin she was. I checked her grooming card, which said she's 7 years old. Well, she's not 7, she's 15. Someone goofed.

    Anyway, as part of my pre-grooming check over, I always check the gums. Her's were pale, and almost yellow. I felt her feet and legs; they were cold. So I popped her into a crate, with a cage dryer blowing warm air on her, and called her owner. She came, picked the dog up, and took her immediately to the vet. They found a large tumor in her abdomen. A very bad tumor. The kind of tumor that can cause a dog to bleed out in a matter of minutes.

    This isn't the first time I've found pale gums. Usually as a result of fleas and/or ticks. But I think it's the first time it's resulted in finding an hemangiosarcoma! Unfortunately, due to her age, she's not going to survive very long. But at least she didn't die on the table.

    Everyone, check those gums! Make it part of your routine. You could save a life.

  • #2
    Great Job Helly. I will make that part of my routine from now on
    "Whoever Said That Money Can't Buy Happiness Forgot About Puppies"


    • #3
      Wow, that's scary! ...and great advice. What other checks do you do prior to accepting a dog and/or as you go about grooming a dog?


      • #4
        My vet told me to also check the whites of the eyes for the red veins. If you don't see red veins that can also be a sign of anemia.
        SheilaB from SC


        • #5
          I took the brusher bather seminar at Hershey this past year and she said the same thing. And to also look at the teeth. She said she's found a bunch of dogs with mouth cancer that were able to be saved since they caught it early. It's not something the owners tend to look at. I also let the owners know of any lumps and bumps that are new. Even if they are simple warts I would want to be aware of them if it were my pet. (I'm not talking about mr. warty mcnorty the cocker spaniel though, lol...I'd have a book on where all his warts are )


          • #6
            I usually only check the dogs gums if they have lots of fleas and ticks.

            We had one lady whos dog was so infested with ticks he was definately pale and we told her that she really really really needed to take him to the vets and she absolutely refused saying he was just fine and she wouldn't come back because she felt embarrassed about us telling her that her dog was INFESTED with ticks.

            I will have to remember to check more often on the doggies just in case. And of course I try to always tell people about different bumps/lumps/behaviors.


            • #7
              What other checks do I do? Let's see. I do so many things automatically I need to think about it.

              As mentioned by Sheila, I also check the eyes, not only for signs of anemia but red conjunctiva can mean an infection or allergy. Super red whites signal a great deal of stress, so I try to calm the dog down and reduce stress as much as possible.

              I check for lumps and bumps, growths, crusty skin.

              I do try to assess the weight. If it's a regular client I make note of weight loss or gain, so I can discuss it with the client. Weight loss when a dog hasn't been on a diet can signal several different medical problems.

              Check for broken, infected teeth. Oh, here's a good one, in regards to checking the teeth. Look at the dog head on, and see if the face is the same on both sides. You can often identify sinus infection or abcessed teeth by swelling on one side of the face. Drooping on one side of the face only is a sign of Bell's Palsy. While I'm checking the mouth, I check for capilary refill time by pressing the gum and watching how long it takes to return to normal color.

              I check hydration; pull the skin up and see if it tents.

              I also gently palpate the abdomen. If it's tight, rigid, the dog could be stressed, or he could be in pain from a tumor, infection, or spinal injury.

              If I suspect a spinal or neurological problem, I check for propreception deficit; turn the feet over and see if the dog turns them back to normal position.

              That's all I can think of, other than the things I think most groomers do, like check ears and anals.

              I know it sounds like a lot, but it only takes a couple of minutes, and you'll be surprised how many things you catch.


              • #8
                I usually check the teeth to see if they need to be cleaned and then refer to a vet (I hate yucky teeth).

                But, what would you be looking for to determine if a dog had mouth cancer. I've never seen it (or at least didn't recognize it.)?
                don't find yourself up a creek without a poodle.


                • #9
                  Growths or bumps in the mouth, on the lips or tongue. A lot of times it looks like a black, ugly wart. Sometimes it's a cluster of shiney blistery looking growths. Sometimes it's white or bright red. It depends on the type of cancer.

                  Just look for anything that looks like it doesn't belong there. Refer to the vet, and let him/her decide if it's something to be concerned about.


                  • #10
                    New swellings under the ears/along the jawline (possible lymphoma). Masses inside throat (found an odd throat cancer by peering down a dog's throat, missed by 3 vets). New swellings alongside jugular (another odd tumor wrapped around the vein in a youngish cocker). Look for anything 'different'.


                    • #11
                      New swellings under the ears/along the jawline (possible lymphoma). Masses inside throat (found an odd throat cancer by peering down a dog's throat, missed by 3 vets). New swellings alongside jugular (another odd tumor wrapped around the vein in a youngish cocker). Look for anything 'different'.


                      • #12
                        Thanks for the tips! Please be sure to post more if you all think of them...


                        • #13
                          Great Info!

                          Wow! This is some really great information! I'm going to make a list of things like these to check for before each grooming! It could be dangerous to groom a dog with some of these conditions. Also if the owners were not aware of some conditions, they may think that the groomer had caused some kind of injury during the grooming process, instead of it being a pre-existing health condition. Thanks for the insights!


                          • #14
                            Pale Gums

                            I agree, that is great info and some of the things mentioned I had never thought of.
                            My BF has a 19 month old English Cocker. I was grooming him the other day and noticed that he had pale gums. BF says they have always been that way and it is nothing to worry about.
                            Is this true?


                            • #15
                              Tzu- Some dogs do have lighter gums, but I've never seen normal gums that were ghostly pale. It is possible the dog has something wrong if they seemed TOO light...