Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Pet Prepurchase exam

These are some things to consider before buying your pet

What to consider before purchasing a pet

Once you think you’ve finally found the perfect companion, now what? For starters, you want to be sure you are getting a healthy specimen. Be sure to inquire as to vaccination and deworming history. You might be told that all of the “shots” and dewormings have been given. This might be true, but don’t hesitate to ask for, in writing, dates and names of products used. Your veterinarian can then review this list for completeness during the professional prepurchase exam.

Even before your veterinarian gets involved, you should perform your own prepurchase exam on the prospect. It is easy to do on site and will help illuminate many problems that might otherwise elude the untrained eye.


For starters, take note of the surrounding environment in which the puppy or kitten is being kept. Does it look and smell clean, or is it filthy, with uncleaned litterboxes or urine and feces lying all around? If the latter is true, you should question the integrity of the seller. Observe all the individuals in the litter or group. Do any appear sickly, depressed, or otherwise unhealthy? An infectious disease can run rampant through such a congregation of young dogs and cats, and it could be just beginning to rear its ugly head within the group.


Now focus your attention on the actual candidate. Start with overall attitude. Does it appear active and healthy, or is it lethargic and depressed? Are breathing problems evident? Does it seem friendly and outgoing to people and to the other animals in the group, or does it seem shy and introverted? Dogs and cats destined to be good pets should take an instant fancy to people, and should outwardly display this affection. At the same time, avoid those individuals with overbearing and domineering personalities. Observe how your favorite treats other members of its group. Domineering personalities are usually quite evident. As a general rule, choose one that is “middle of the road”—not too domineering yet not too shy.

Skin and coat

Once attitude and personality have been evaluated, check out the skin and coat. Any fleas or ticks present? How about any hair loss, scabs, or signs of infection? These could be indicators of diseases such as mange or ringworm, both of which can be zoonotic. Cats especially are meticulous self-groomers. As a result, an unkempt haircoat could signify parasitism or some other underlying health disorder.

Lumps, bumps, or swellings

Run your hands over the umbilical area and, on both sides, over the points where the inner thighs connect with the abdominal wall. Do you notice any soft, fluctuant masses? These could be herniations. Run you hands over the entire body surface, feeling for other types of lumps and bumps. Note the location of any you find. Does the belly seem distended (swollen)? If so, it could be full of food, or it could be full of worms. Check beneath the tail, looking for tapeworm segments and for evidence of diarrhea. Soiling on and around the hair in this area should tip you off to a potential intestinal disorder.

Other anatomical considerations

Observe leg conformation and the way the puppy or kitten walks and runs. Any obvious deformity
and/or lameness should be noted. In male dogs, check for descent of the testicles. Both testicles should be present at birth. If they aren’t, be prepared to neuter at a later date, not only for health reasons but also to prevent the passage of this inheritable trait to future generations. Fortunately, cryptorchidism is rare in cats.