Shelter Health

Examine Animals at Intake

A basic intake exam provides essential information about an animal so you can address his or her immediate needs. Your findings may also protect the health of other animals in your care and even the humans in your shelter.

Here are five important things to remember during an intake exam:

  1. Make it basic but thorough
    When you evaluate and record the health status of animals as they enter the shelter, you can then distinguish medical problems that develop during their shelter stay from pre-existing conditions. Use the exam form and the slideshow below as a guide.
  2. Accurately describe gender status and physical appearance
    Record the animal's gender status and physical appearance and assign a method of permanent identification to the animal for his or her shelter stay. Documenting identifying information may help return stray animals to their owners if a lost report has been filed with the shelter. You also need to know gender status and be able to quickly identify animals to keep animals properly housed during the shelter stay.
  3. Identify signs of infectious disease
    If animals with signs of infectious disease are quickly isolated, you may prevent spread to other animals in the shelter.
  4. Recognize medical emergencies, including pain
    Getting medical care to animals who require immediate attention reduces their suffering and may also prevent a treatable issue from progressing to a more serious stage.
  5. Document all findings
    Make sure all information is captured – including normal and abnormal findings – somewhere easily accessible for future reference.

Slideshow: Performing an Intake Exam

See the process step-by-step.

ASV Shelter Guidelines

For more information about intake exams, see Medical Health and Physical Well-being in Guidelines for Standards of Care in Animal Shelters.

More Saving Lives at Intake Resources

Vaccinate at Intake
Get the most out of the vaccines you invest in by reviewing which type to use, what animals to vaccinate, and when to revaccinate. Read More »

Treat Parasites at Intake
Review these five steps to improve the health of your shelter population and prevent transmission to animals and people. Read More »

Segregate Animal Populations
Smaller groups in separate housing spaces make for healthier shelter animals; these guidelines can help. Read More »

Good Nutrition for Shelter Animals
Here are procedures and downloads to help ensure animals are fed properly. Read More »

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