As a dog owner, you value your pup's health and happiness. It would be simple if your dog could tell you what it's feeling, but since that's not possible, you'll have to learn to interpret signs of concern. A pup's body and behavior offer many clues for the state of its health, as long as you know what to look for. Read on to learn the signs of a healthy, happy dog and the signs of health issues.
Signs of Good Health in Dogs
Several factors indicate good dog health. Check for the following signs of a healthy dog, and keep a careful eye out for any concerns.
1. Fresh Breath and Clean Teeth
A healthy mouth is important for a dog's well-being. Look for clean-smelling breath and clean teeth. Watch for foul breath or tartar buildup. Those concerns could be signs of tooth decay, which can lead to tooth loss and infection. Peek into your pup's mouth from time to time to make sure everything looks and smells clean.
2. Shiny Coat
A pup with no health issues should have fur with natural oils and regular shedding, which keep the coat shiny and clean. A healthy coat means a healthy dog. Look for clean, shiny fur without dandruff, bald spots or greasiness. Groom your dog by bathing it now and then, brushing its fur every couple of days and taking care of its nails, ears and teeth when you do. Regular brushing and washing will help keep your canine's coat clean.
Of course, every dog's coat is unique. Your pet may have a double coat or short fur. Look up grooming advice specific to your dog's breed and pay attention to any specific concerns you should out for.
3. Regular Bathroom Movements
Check your dog's urine and bowel movements for signs of digestive concerns. Make sure its stool is free of any abnormalities and its urine is a transparent yellow color — any other colors can signal a health concern. Always feed your pup a wholesome diet and offer plenty of water throughout the day to avoid digestive issues.
4. Energy and Interest
Behavior is an important way to determine a dog's health. A happy, healthy canine should be observant and excitable, ready to play. Pay attention to your pup's attitude and energy level. If it normally enjoys going for walks or running around outside but seems lethargic one day, there could be something wrong.
5. Clean Ears
Clean ears help regulate body temperature and limit the risk of painful infections. Clean your dog's ears often, using an approved cleaning solution. You can then help your pup avoid ear infections, a common problem in dogs.
6. Cool, Moist Nose
A dog's nose should be cool and moist, and nasal discharge should be clear. The nose's color should be black, pink or the same color as the coat. If your dog has a dry, warm nose, you might want to take his temperature or look for any other signs of issues — it could mean a fever.
7. Bright Eyes
Your dog's eyes should be shiny, clear and alert, following any interesting objects. Look out for cloudiness or a blue-gray color, which can indicate vision issues like cataracts.
8. Consistent Lean Weight
With a balanced diet and exercise, a dog will have a consistent, lean weight. An under or overweight canine is more prone to health issues. As a rule of thumb, you should be able to feel your dog's ribs without too much padding but not see them from a distance. If you're not sure of your pup's weight status, ask a vet. Dog owners are often surprised to hear their pets are overweight. Be sure to feed your pooch a well-balanced diet and offer many opportunities for exercise.
When You Should Call the Veterinarian
If you suspect any health concerns, it's always best to contact a vet for an expert opinion. Any obvious abnormalities in your dog's body or its behavior may connect to a health concern. Always involve your vet if you notice:
- Staggering, limping or fainting: If your dog seems unable to hold itself upright, this may be due to injury, stroke, infection or other medical emergencies.
- Change in urine or bowel movements: If your pet is constipated or urinating excessively or has diarrhea or difficulty urinating, any of these issues can be a sign of a serious problem. Also look for any discoloration or unusual textures as these can also signal a concern.
- Vomiting: Sometimes, dogs vomit after eating something foul or eating too quickly. Other times, vomiting may be a sign of poisoning, infection or other medical issues. If your pet vomits more than once or has other symptoms along with vomiting, seek veterinary attention.
- Irritated skin: If you notice persistent scratching, rashes or any skin issues, you'll want to visit a vet.
- Shivering: Shivering can be a sign of pain or health issues. It can be the result of a stomach ache or a more serious condition like hypoglycemia.
- Loss of appetite or weight loss: Just as people lose their appetites when they're sick, dogs can, too. If your pooch has little appetite or seems to be losing weight at a rapid pace, an illness may be the cause.
- Excessive thirst: Excessive thirst can indicate a slew of health issues, including diabetes, fever or cancer. If your dog seems extra thirsty for no apparent reason, this could be cause for concern.
- White gums: A dog's gums should be bubblegum or salmon pink. Pale gums can mean anemia, shock or disease.
- Mood swings: If you notice a change in your dog's attitude, this can be a sign of a health problem. If it becomes self-isolating or fatigued often, it might be in pain.
Along with watching for those signs, be sure to pay attention to your dog's eyes, ears and nose. Look out for:
- Discharge from the eyes or nose: A runny nose can be a sign of an allergic reaction, and any discoloration in nose discharge is abnormal. Runny eyes can indicate conjunctivitis or other conditions. If the discharge has any coloration or the eye looks red, you'll need to visit a vet.
- Dirty, smelly ears: Waxy buildup, swelling or a foul smell in your pup's ears can mean an ear infection, which dogs are prone to because of their ear canals' shape. Your canine might shake its head or scratch at its ears, trying to relieve the discomfort.
- Cloudy eyes: Cloudy or blue-gray eyes can mean cataracts or nuclear sclerosis. Since dogs rely on other senses in addition to sight, they can still have a good quality of life if they go blind. But cataracts can cause damage or pain, so it's still important to see a vet.
Keep Your Dog Groomed and Clean With All Paws Pet Wash
Healthy dogs are happy dogs. By paying attention to your pup's body and behavior, you can catch potential health issues early and seek care. You can promote your canine's health and comfort with a well-balanced diet, plenty of exercise and regular grooming. Taking care of your dog's coat, teeth, ears and nails will help it stay healthy and strong.
Rather than taking your pup to an expensive groomer or making a mess of your bathroom, use an All Paws Pet Wash. Open 24/7, an All Paws Pet Wash comes equipped with heated or cool water, five types of dog-safe shampoo, a vacuum and dryer and plenty of doggy treats. To keep your dog healthy and clean, find an All Paws Pet Wash near you!