Our dogs are part of the family, and it can be easy to worry about their health. Of course, you should take your pooch in for annual checkups at your vet. But there are also six things you can keep an eye on at home that will help you know if your dog is healthy.
1. His Breath
The health of your dog’s mouth can be a great indicator of overall health. When you smell your dog’s breath, it should smell clean. His teeth should also be clean, without excessive tartar buildup. If his breath smells rotten, that’s an indication of tooth decay, or possibly a more serious issue like oral melanoma.
Gingivitis, or gum disease, is also a serious problem for your dog that could eventually affect his organs, leading to serious health problems. Periodontal disease can affect the jaw bones and cause tooth loss. Both of these issues are caused by plaque and tartar buildup. Regular teeth cleaning will keep these issues from affecting your dog.
2. His Coat and Skin
Your dog’s coat should be shiny and clean, and the skin should be free of redness or flakes. If you’re noticing a lot of scratching, licking or chewing, these are all indicators that your dog is uncomfortable. Look for signs of irritation, allergies, or parasites like fleas and ticks.
3. His Weight
Obesity is just a big of a problem for dogs as it is people. It can lead to many serious health concerns, including lung disease, heart disease, bone, and joint issues, diabetes, skin problems, and even certain types of cancer. On the other hand, unexplained weight loss isn’t good either. Your dog’s weight should stay relatively consistent, and his waist should taper in at the hips, but his ribcage should not be showing. Talk to your vet if you are unsure about how much your dog should way.
4. Bowel and Bladder Health
Observe your dog’s bowel movements regularly for signs of health concerns, such a greasy coating, diarrhea, a black tarlike appearance, a chalky white appearance, worms, mucus, or blood. Dramatic changes in the appearance of your dog’s urine or stool could indicate stress, parasites, an infection, or even serious problems like cancer, pancreatitis, or an obstruction. Abnormally colored urine, such urine that is red, cloudy, pink, or orange, is a big red flag. A dog that’s peeing in the house could also have an underlying health issue.
5. His Personality
Healthy dogs want to be around people. They are engaged and alert and interested in what’s going on around them. If your dog suddenly wants to be off by himself, seems lethargic, or has some other sudden, unexplained change in his behavior, something may be off. Schedule a checkup at your vet as soon as possible.
6. His Ears
Healthy dog ears do not have a strong odor, wax buildup, or discharge of any kind. Dogs’ ears do need regular cleaning to prevent infections, but there shouldn’t be excessive amounts of buildup. Smelly ears or extremely dirty ears, head shaking, or scratching at the ears are all signs of an ear infection.
If you notice anything that might indicate that your dog has a health problem, schedule an appointment with his vet right away. Dog’s can speak up and tell you when there’s something wrong, so it’s up to their owners to be on the lookout for problems. Addressing issues early on could save your dog a lot of pain and suffering.