The health of your pet is important to you. But what does a healthy dog look like? Are there some basics to assessing dog health just by looking at your animal?
One of the first things people notice about dogs is their coat, and this can be a great indicator of dog health. The coat should appear glossy. When you feel the coat, check for oiliness. While some oils are necessary for healthy fur, too much can indicate a problem. Also check for bald spots, which could be stress related or indicate nervous rubbing by the dog, and dandruff, which is a result of dry skin.
Beneath the coat, the skin is also a great indicator of dog health. Like in humans, the skin is one of your pet’s largest organs. Look for bumps, lumps or scabbing. Also check for wounds, flakiness or red areas. While you are doing this, also look for ticks, fleas or other external parasites. Brush your dog’s hair back or fluff it out with a blow-dryer and look for anything that shouldn’t be there.
Move on to your dog’s eyes. The eyes should be white, not yellow. Strange colors in the eyes can indicate poor dog health, and may be signs of serious problems. Your dog’s eyes will also release some tears and discharge, but check to see if these seem excessive.
Now it is time to check your pet’s ears. They should be clean and pink inside. Check for redness or swelling. Some level of brown or yellow wax will be present, but check for excessive amounts, which could be an indication of an internal ear dog health problem.
A good way to check general dog health is to check the nose, mouth and gums. These areas should not smell foul, and should be white, black or pink, depending on the skin color. For the nose, any discharge should be clear. Other colors, such as yellow or green, indicate a dog health problem. It could be the cold or flu, or something else. If the dog has bad breath, look for hard discolored matter along the bottom of the teeth. This is plaque, and should be cleaned.
Also keep a general image in your mind of what the whole dog looks like. One of the biggest dog health problems in the United States is obesity. Does your dog look like he has gained weight? Also, loss of weight can be an indicator of dog health problems. Also, monitor your pet’s behavior. Has his or her mood changed? Is he or she acting normal?
At one of your veterinarian visits, ask your vet about your pet’s ideal internal temperature and resting heart rate. These are internal measures of dog health that you can easily check at home.
So far, we’ve looked mostly at external signs of dog health. Keep in mind, however, that many dog health problems come from inside, which are only manifested by the outward appearance. Also, some dogs that look to be perfectly healthy may have internal dog health problems. If you ever have the slightest concern about your pet’s health, do not hesitate to go straight to the vet. You want your animal to be healthy, not just look healthy.