Routine maintenance and looking out for physical or behavioral changes can help you assess your dog’s health. For specific signs of a healthy pooch, check out the indications below!
Please note that this does not aim to serve as medical advice. For a full evaluation of your dog’s health, please visit a veterinarian.
Keep an eye (and nose) out for relatively clean-smelling breath and teeth for an indication of a healthy mouth. A rotten smell could mean tooth decay, a mouth infection or another health condition. Firm and pink, black or spotted (similar to your dog’s skin) gums signal good health. Be sure to brush away any hard white, yellow or brown matter which can be plaque or tartar.
Skin and Coat
Groom your dog regularly to evaluate the condition of their skin and coat. This will help you to notice any changes and check for fleas, ticks, lice and other external parasites. Look out for black “dirt” on your dog’s skin or bedding which may be a sign of flea droppings. Healthy dogs will have a flexible, smooth, shiny and clean coat due to natural oils and shedding. Take notice of scabs, growths, white flakes or red areas. Pooches that are often licking, chewing, scratching or showing other signs of discomfort can indicate skin irritation, skin allergies, a bug bite or fleas.
Excessive weight in dogs can cause problems such as diabetes, heart and lung diseases, skin conditions and various cancers. A pet with a consistent lean weight is considered healthy. You can tell if your furry friend has a healthy weight by feeling their rib-cage area. You should be able to feel their ribs below the surface of the skin without much padding. Also, if your dog still seems over or underweight but is eating nutritious food and getting enough exercise, a health problem may be to blame.
Bladder and Bowel Movements
A sign of healthy bowel movements is if your adult dog has one or two bowel movements a day. Normal stools should be brown and firm and not contain blood, mucus, a chalky white discoloration, a black and tarry appearance or a greasy coating. A healthy pooch’s urine will be clear yellow (not red, pink or cloudy). If you notice a change, it could be due to a change in diet, stress, allergies or a more serious condition.
Your pup's ears can be another way to gauge the health of your dog. Compare each ear to the other and make sure the lining of the ear flap looks like regular skin and is light pink and clean. There should be some yellow or brownish wax, but it shouldn't be thick, inflamed, reddened or crusty. Healthy pet ears will also have no discharge and shouldn't have a pungent or musky smell. It is recommended to do routine cleaning to avoid an ear infection.
A healthy dog will have clear, bright and shiny eyes. There should be minimal mucus and watery tears. Check to make sure the pink lining of the eyelids isn’t inflamed, swollen or has a yellow discharge. You can check eye health by using your index finger and thumb to gently ease the eyelids apart. If you can see your reflection in them, that is a sign that their eyes are normal.
Along with physical signs of a healthy dog, be mindful of any behavior changes that may signal that something is off with your furry pal. Healthy pooches are eager to greet you at the door, spend time with family members, come to play and watching with interest. Signs of excess sleep, disengagement and increased time spent alone can be a warning sign of a bigger issue.