10 Touches To Keep A Dog Healthy

Life is a journey and dogs make it better. One of the best ways to ensure your dog remains a loving, loyal part of the family for a long time is to touch him or her. 10 touches, 10 minutes, once a week will keep a dog healthy, happy, and rewarding you with love.

True Chews disclaimer

Dog mom bond of love with dog

Why Does Touch Matter?

Knowing what ‘normal’ looks like and feels like on your dog means that when something out of the ordinary or ‘abnormal’ happens, you, the dog parent, are ready to act. Case in point: In preparing to write this blog post and help you keep your dog healthy, my dog faced a life-threatening illness.

On Saturday, October 7th, my wife and I packed up the car and headed out of town for a day of fun with our dog, Dexter, to a New Jersey beach. There, the dog played, ran, and showed tons of energy.

Upon arrival back home about 11:30 pm, I decided to check my dog’s ear, as I thought he may be battling an ear infection, common in Cockers but only the second time ever for Dexter. I noticed he had some lumpy looking reddish marks on his inner ear flap. I immediately checked Dexter’s gums. They were normal in color and capillary refill was good, but he had some bleeding along the gum line, and in particular between two teeth on the right side rear portion of his mouth. I noticed splotchy red marks on the inside of his upper lip flaps, too.

My spouse and I rushed our dog to the emergency vet/hospital located about 10 minutes from our house.

Dexter spent four nights in the hospital, where a diagnosis of IMT, or immune-mediated thrombocytopenia was made. The body’s immune system attacks platelets as invaders, causing my dog’s platelet count to clock in at zero. (yes, zero).

Dexter recovered, is on medication, weekly vet visits, and thanks to our twice daily hospital visits, prompt attention to his medical care, and knowing that something was wrong, he is alive and healthy today.

As a lifelong dog mom, I encourage you to perform 10 touches on at least a weekly basis to keep your dog healthy. Here’s what to do:

Touching a dog can save his life

Prepare to Treat Them Well

You want the experience of touch to be a positive one with your dog. There are two ways to get your dog used to being touched as a regular part of their life:

  1. Go on an adventure, similar to the one you will see outlined in this post. While having a fun day at a local fall festival, I rewarded Dexter with one of his favorite treats from True Chews®. I would pet him, check for lumps and bumps, snap a photo, give him a treat, and then go about our sightseeing.
  2. Touch Your Dog’s Body From Time to Time: Massage your dog gently from the tops of the feet, to petting the legs, lifting or looking at his ears, and do so in a positive and reinforcing way. I broke up little pieces of the True Chews® Dog Treats Pork and Chicken sausage treats during our recent weekly touch check.

Keep dogs healthy with touch and exercise

10 Touches To Keep A Dog Healthy

Gums: Gently lift your dog’s lips and peek at his gums. Are they pink? Is there any bleeding? Are the gums a nice rosy or shrimp color? Dogs with black gums might be harder to discern, but if the gums are bleeding or white, see a vet immediately. Take a peek at the teeth while there. This is a win-win because dogs who are accustomed to having their mouth touched are more likely to accept tooth brushing.

This is the exact ‘touch’ that saved my dog’s life. As I examine Dexter’s mouth and body, I keep True Chews Premium Grillers on hand in little pieces next to me to praise and reward. I can use one treat for the entire experience.

brush dog teeth

Ears: Some dogs have floppy ears, like Dexter, and others have high standing erect ears. Whatever the case, look for any change in appearance, color, and if there is an odor or discharge.

Paw Pads: A broken nail can be very painful. An overgrowth of fur between the pad surfaces means dogs can slip on flooring. Any cuts or wounds on a paw pad need immediate attention. Visually inspect the paw while using touch to feel for anything unusual.

During our fall fun fest, Dexter allowed me to check his paws as we sat and enjoyed a tasty apple cider for his moms and a True Chews snack for Dexter. I feel good rewarding him with a treat that is made in the USA, as I am super fussy about the treats he eats.

Dog fall adventure

Face: Your dog’s nose touches the ground, so be sure and give his face a once over. Feel for any lumps or bumps and look and feel for ticks or anything else. Is his nose bleeding? It might surprise you to learn that dogs can and do get a bloody nose for which veterinary care should be sought.

Eyes: The eyes are the window to the soul, and dogs carry such love in their hearts. Look for any redness, debris, changes, or discharge.

Double T’s: Tush and Tail: Most dogs love a good butt scratch: Gentle and massaging, across the tush and hips, feel for any bumps or lumps and take a peek, too: The sensitive anal glands are located in this area, so any unusual odors should be checked out by a veterinarian. Touch the tail for any bumps and ticks.

Now is a good time to reward with the True Chews snack you have hiding out in your pocket.

Dog eating True Chews treat
Dexter takes his True Chews seriously!

Jowls: They vary in size, depth, and thickness, but all dogs have them: Those cheeks must be checked. Give them a good inspection and if there is any blood, debris, or odor have that checked.

Belly: Ah, the oh so fabulous tummy rub. If your dog loves his tummy rubbed, this is a great way to gently feel for anything unusual as you run your fingers through his hair and across his skin. Take a peek at the coloring of his skin, too. Any sort of bruising or redness can indicate an issue.

NINJA DOG PARENT TIP: Take photos of anything unusual so you can show your dog’s vet at the next visit.

True Chews dog treats
“Can I haul all of this home, Mom?”

Head and Chest: Feel your dog’s chest and notice of there is any discomfort or pain while petting the chest area. Just behind the elbow on the left side of the dog’s chest is here you should be able to feel a heartbeat. Move onto the dog’s head and gently palpate, running your fingers along.

Lymph Nodes: The lymph nodes filter foreign invaders/particles from a dog’s blood stream. The lymphatic system includes organs like the thymus gland and spleen, so the regulation and production of cells of the immune system are involved. Touching the lymph nodes of the body and knowing where they are located is an important part of understanding your dog’s anatomy. Gently palpate the neck, legs, and groin region. Feel into your dog’s armpits.

Video Dog Touch Tutorial

If video is more your thing, couple the above tips with this easy-to-follow video to help prepare for your dog’s next touch session:

My Dog is My Sunshine

My dog, Dexter, is my heart shaper, love keeper, treat beggar, hope renewer, wigglebutt wagger, bone burier, ball player, life changer.

We go on many adventures together including cross country road trips, beach adventures, picnics, sightseeing, and meeting fellow dog parents from sea to shining sea. My life is enriched for his presence in it, and any sort of treat he gets from me has to be something I feel good giving him.


Why True Chews

Learn more about True Chews and find a store near you that carries this Made in the USA line of  natural treats-you-can-feel-good feeding your dog.

True Chews Story

True Chews Store Locator

We like the variety and quality of treats from True Chews, but your dog will just love the taste and making memories to last a lifetime with you.

True Chews Made in USA dog treats

Do Tell

What sort of adventures do you take with your dog to make memories? Let us know in the comments below. Don’t forget to include those touches!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of True Chews. The opinions and text are all mine.

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  1. It’s imperative for pet parents everywhere to follow these guidelines. At anytime, this could save your pet’s life or prevent something from seriously exacerbating. Great info here.

  2. I try to cuddle with my dog whenever I can. She needs her ears cleaned right now and I need to go to the store and get that! This is a great reminder to go out and do that.

  3. It is so important to keep an eye on your pets health. Every Sunday we spend time grooming our digs and checking them over. I like to give them massages as well.

  4. This is such useful information. About paw pads, we had a problem associated with my dog pads. There are multiple pads associated with each one of his digits in addition to that he has a large central pad. When my dog was out running on the beach where there were some rocks, he got some irritation to his pads. They had like an ulcer and divot taken out of them. This was a very serious condition and also extremely painful If it is not treated, it may lead to some major infections into dog’ feet and requiring a long extensive procedure and sometimes even some surgical procedure. So it is something to take very seriously, and they should be done by veterinarians.

  5. This is some great insight on how to keep your dog feeling healthy and at their best. Checking for things regularly and also making sure you treat them kindly is so important.

  6. Great post! Both my dogs love our daily snuggle sessions, little do they know all the pets they love so much are really me checking them over for anything unusual. I also groom my dogs once a week, which gives me a chance to check them more in depth. A few months ago one of my dogs actually broke the tip of his tail, but he was showing no signs of being in pain. He’s a Papillon so normally has really long tail fur. You couldn’t tell just by looking at him that he was hurt. I only discovered that he had broken it during one of my daily check ins. Animals can be so good at hiding when something is wrong with them, so it’s good to know what’s normal for your pet and to check in on them often.

  7. In addition to touching your dog frequently, watching the way he walks and moves can be helpful. I noticed my dog was walking gingerly a few years back – he seemed to be stepping lightly, but not really limping. A trip to the vet confirmed a sprained back. Never ignore even minor changes in movement or behavior! I’m SO glad Dexter has healed nicely and is going to be fine. You’re an awesome Dog Mom!

  8. My dogs mean so much to me too, they’re a huge part of our lives. I feel good about giving them True Chews treats, I love that they’re all natural and made with premium meats. Thanks for sharing this great information, it’s so important to be aware of your dog’s “normal” and look for any changes to that. Great video too.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  9. What a great reminder. Luckily Kilo is super affectionate and loves being petted but I do need to check his mouth more. Thank goodness you were vigilant and Dex is OK. Sending pug hugs.

  10. Thank you for these important reminders Carol. Our poor babies cannot speak when in pain, so it is super important to check for their wellness at all times.

  11. Great tips and information. I would never have caught Dexter’s medical issue. I would have just thought he got into something. Very observant and what a good doggy mommy.

  12. I am SO glad that Dexter is okay. Regular massage and touch is so incredibly important. Early detection is one of the many benefits that I see in my business as a canine massage therapist. We get to areas regularly that are not always visible or easily accessed. But at the end of the day, the onus is on pet owner’s. No one knows your pet like you do.

  13. I am so happy that Dexter is doing well. I wouldn’t have known to take my dog to the emergency vet for bleeding gums. Thank you for helping to educate dog parents about so many important issues!

  14. Wow, I learned so much in this post! I had no idea about all these different touches. I am sharing this post with my family members so they can all help me take care of our dog better.

  15. I had a similar situation last week where it paid to know what my dog looked like and what the norm was for her. I called the vet immediately and have an appointment tomorrow and am glad that I caught it soon enough, thankfully it wasn’t an emergency but it does need to be tended to. I am definitely sharing this post around so other pet parents can be more likely to know the norm for their dogs and be proactive!

  16. Everyone bringing home a dog, especially a puppy, should read this post. Getting your dog used to these touches is so important! The floofs love hiking adventures 🙂

  17. I saw another review on these treats and I might just have to order some for my pups! They all love treats equally, except for the Chiweenie, he loves treats more than anyone.

  18. I am so happy that Dexter is doing well again! Touch is important on so many levels, but in this case touching and feeling our pets can let us know when something is not right, something that is there now was not there before. So while we are rubbing and petting our pets for their pleasure it’s a good time to know our pets and what is normal, what is not.

  19. What a great way to incorporate your daily life with Dexter and the treats! I pet and observe the girls daily – several times a day. I’m always feeling all over their body to make sure nothing feels different. I’m so happy you found Dexter’s problem so quickly!

  20. I do this all the time with my dogs! I agree, and I realized how important it was as my oldest dog grew older and started having health issues. I wouldn’t have noticed the tumors starting as early as I did if I didn’t check him often enough!

  21. A great article. Touch is very important to check the dogs health. I try and brush my dog once a day when watching TV in the evenings.

  22. Our dog has had some skin breakouts in the past (due to food allergies etc), so we definitely keep a close eye on her belly and fur, but I like the idea to go ahead and check everything while we’re at it.

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