Following up on our recent post, I had the pleasure of traveling to Las Vegas for a pet sitting conference. While there, the first class I took was the Pet Tech training class. One of the subjects that we covered was the snout to tail assessment.

Dawn examines Misty's teeth during her assessment.

Dawn examines Misty’s teeth during her assessment.

What is Snout to Tail?

In a nutshell, it is examining your dog or cat from snout to tail. Basically the idea is to start at your pets nose and work your way visually and manually along the body until you reach the end of your pets tail. This is not only the best way to determine if something is happening with your pet, but it is also a great bonding experience. There should be no part of your pets body that you should not be able to touch.

What should I be touching?

Start with the snout and check the head, muzzle, mouth ears and eyes. Then move to the neck and spine and on to the chest and ribs. The front legs and paws, abdomen, back legs and paws and tail should all be touched. The skin and coat as well.

Checking Misty's leg during the assessment.

Checking Misty’s leg during the assessment.

What am I looking for?

You know your pet better than anyone. During the process you should be looking for any type of abnormality or change. Look for any types of abrasions, skin abnormalities such as color change, spots, bumps, lumps or bruises. Tenderness, swelling or masses. The claws or nails should be trimmed, not split or painful, no foreign bodies between the toes. Check the animals pads for excessive splitting. The tail should be checked for any type of deformity as well as range of motion.

How long does it take?

For pets that are comfortable with touching, it can take a few minutes, for others it could take much longer. Each pet is different. The best thing to do is to begin the process and let your pet become comfortable with the process.

How often should I do this?

The snout to tail assessment should be done at least once a week.

Where should I do the assessment?

Anywhere that is comfortable for you and your pet. Preferably a quiet place with little to no distractions. If it is the middle of the day and your pet is quite active, now is not the time! Most pets calm down at certain times of the day or at bedtime.

What should I do if I find something?

You should contact your veterinarian if you find any abnormalities or changes in your pets assessment as soon as possible.


Attached is a downloadable form that you can use. Snout to Tail Assessment


The bonding that can take place between you and your pet is well worth your time. If you know what is normal for your pet, it enables you to detect something that is not normal. Finally, keeping a mental note or even a journal on your pets assessment can help you and your veterinarian determine the proper course of action if needed. It also allows you to potentially catch something before its too late.

Is your pet bored during the day? Do they need a potty break and some exercise? Why not give us a call? Contact Dawn Higgins at 610-716-7716 or email us at Please like and follow us on facebook at and find us on the web at