How to Tell if a Dog is Healthy
We love our canine family members, and of course, want to ensure that they remain healthy and happy. Fortunately, there are various, easy-to-read signs that a dog is healthy. The following steps will put your mind at ease - or let you know a visit to the vet may be in order.
Step 1: Look at the dog's nose to make sure it's cold and wet. If the nose is dry, it could be a sign of dehydration, or an indication of something more serious.
Step 2: See if the eyes are clear and bright and the whites are not yellowish or red. The lining of the eyelids should be pink rather than red. There should be minimal mucous and no yellow discharge.
Step 3: Examine the inside of the mouth. Gums should have a pinkish color and the teeth should be closer to white than yellow and free of dark build-up. However, keep in mind that dogs’ teeth darken as they get older. Bad breath may be a sign of infection or gum disease. To check a dog's teeth and gums, talk to him gently, then put your hand over the muzzle and lift up the sides of his mouth.
Step 4: Look at the coat. It should be shiny and free of bald patches or rough spots. However, a dull coat may also just be a result of improper grooming.
Step 5: Examine the skin. It should be light pink to whitish in color and free of parasites, irritation or flakiness. The inside of the ears should also be a light color. A deeper red indicates inflammation. The ears should be free of wax build-up.
Step 6: Make sure the dog's temperature is around 101 to 102.5 degrees F. However, 100 degrees F is still considered normal. A rectal thermometer that is sold at the pharmasist or on ebay can be used to take your dog's temperature. Be sure to apply petroleum jelly to the tip before inserting it.
Step 7: Keep your dog at a healthy body weight. Dogs at the proper weight will have a visible indentation behind their ribs or almost an “hourglass figure.” Place both hands lightly on the dog’s ribs. You should be able to feel the ribs, but they shouldn't be sticking out. If you can’t feel the ribs, chances are she’s overweight.
Step 8: Observe your dog's appetite. He may get picky once in a while about his food, but if he continues to turn down all food after a 24-hour period, this may be a sign that something is wrong.
Step 9: Observe if your dog is active and alert with no signs of lethargy. Since dogs naturally give themselves a sufficient amount of rest by napping, continued lethargy or what appears to be fatigue is not normal.
Step 10: Make sure the urine is clear and yellow. It is not normal for it to be cloudy, dilute (no color) or contain blood. Also, frequent urination or not enough urination could be an indication there is a problem. Keep in mind, however, that warmer weather and increased activity will cause your dog to drink more. Stools should be firm and moist, rather than loose or runny. It should not be black and tarry or contain blood or mucous.