A Health Checklist for a Dog Owner

As a new pet owner, you might require some telepathic powers. Being a dog owner for the first time can be a tad daunting. Seeing as you don’t speak dog language, you are left trying to decipher the quirky little things that your dog does. You could be wondering if the way he wags his tail is out of joy or anxiety, or if he is barking at something he wants or it poses a potential threat.

While there is no way of barking back at your dog to get the answers you want, dogs display some fair amount of body language. You can read the signs and determine if your pup is indeed jovial and healthy or maybe having a more serious problem like an illness that needs emergency care. Aside from regular medical check-ups with the veterinary along with blood, urine and faecal samples for testing to check for any hidden ailments, the below signs displayed by your dog will tell you that he is indeed happy and thriving. Of course, it’s important to note that dogs are different in their traits as well and behaviors change as they grow older. However, this checklist shows common signs that indicate that your dog is healthy and happy.

You Want a Healthy Dog-  Hear’s a Checklist for You

  • Clean Mouth

The mouth’s hygiene reveals a great deal about your dog’s health. If your pup has clean teeth without tartar build up in sight and relatively fresh breath, then this is a good sign. If your dog has gum disease such as gingivitis or illness affecting their teeth such as periodontitis it could quickly worsen their overall health. Periodontitis is the leading cause of teeth loss among dogs, and it’s often caused by a build-up of food, tartar, and plaque between the teeth and on the gums. If you take a whiff of your dog’s breath and it smells like something rotting, it is probably time to take your pup for a dental check-up.

Speaking of mouths, according to Dr. Georgette Wilson, the director of scientific and regulatory affairs and resident veterinarian at Hartz, healthy happy dogs tend to look like they are letting out a smile. The mouth is usually half open just enough, so you can spot some teeth but not all of them. If your dog bares all their teeth and their lips are pulled back, you should take this as an aggressive stance. Opening his mouth while panting should not be taken as smiling as this could indicate that your dog is dehydrated or stressed.

  • Healthy Body Weight and Appetite

A healthy dog should maintain a consistent lean weight that doesn’t fluctuate too much to either end of the weighing scale. Check your dog to see if their waist tapers well into their hips and that you can’t visibly count every rib on their body. Pet obesity is a growing concern for vets. Overloading on cholesterol and sugar causes the same ailments in humans as it does on dogs for instance heart diseases, diabetes, joint disease and much more. Sudden or insidious weight loss is also a cause for concern and should warrant a visit from the vet immediately. Happy canines also have a healthy appetite. That is not to say that they devour everything they find on their way. A sudden drop or rise in appetite could point to serious disease worth investigating. When it comes to meals and treats for your furry friend, it’s important to practice portion control. You can consult your veterinarian to discuss a healthy diet plan for your pup that will keep him happy and in good health.

  • Relaxed Eyes and Ears

The typical dog eye look consists of relaxed eyelids and eyes. A happy healthy dog gives out a soft gaze merged with some moderate blinking of the eyes. Narrow eyes with a fixed gaze indicate anger, while wide eyes with most of the white part visible indicate fear. Another good sign of a healthy dog is clean ears with minimal wax and no discharge of foul smell emanating from them. Clean ears radiate out heat which maintains healthy body temperature for your dog. If a musty smell is coming out of their ear, it could indicate an infection.

Another thing to consider when it comes to ears, it’s their shape. Different breeds have different shapes of their ears. However, in general, a happy canine has its ears relaxed regardless of the shape they may take. Alternatively, one ear could be pointing up, or both of them could be loosely hanging on the sides. If the ears are pinned back, it could indicate stress or aggression. If their ears are pointed forwards, it indicates that their focus is invested in something that is going on around or near them. If they are constantly pawing into their ears and shaking their head from side to side it could indicate an infection.

  • Alert and Happy

A healthy dog is always up for a good time. Healthy canines enjoy some playtime and walk outdoor. Dancing is one of the ways your dog wants you for play. You can spot them hopping or dancing up and down when they spot someone or another dog that they would like to play with. Others roll on the ground exposing their furry bellies and their tongue. Another great sign that your dog is ready to play is if they have their rear up in the air while their front legs and chest are lowered to the ground with peeked interest. When you see this, get your Frisbee ready.

Healthy dogs are also a bit social; they like to be playful with other dogs at the park or other pets in the house. Dogs that are excessively aggressive with new pets tend to be in a bad mood. If you notice that your four-legged friend is spending more time alone, doesn’t want to play or sleeps for most of the day, this could be a sign that they have a serious health issue. Changes in the behavior are the most common sign that pet owners notice and subsequently consider taking their companions for a check-up. It is important to pay attention to your pet so you can pick up on these, not always obvious, changes in their habits.

Video of Dog Health Checklist

  • A Shiny Coat

A shiny clean coat is a good indicator that your canine friend is healthy. A dog typically sheds its coat, which is replaced by another one with healthy oil giving it a glossy look. It is not necessary to bath your dog every day unless they are dirty as this washes off the natural oils and results in skin irritations. When your pup is stressed they tend to shed their fur more and the skin looks flaky. Excessive scratching, licking or chewing on the skin could indicate allergies, skin irritation or skin infestation with fleas, ticks or mites. It is important to schedule a veterinary consult in the event you spot any of these signs.

  • Regular Bladder and Bowel Movements

Bladder and bowel movements is a good indicator of your dog’s health. Any changes, either more frequent or diminished bladder or bowel movement often indicate a serious health issue. It’s also important to note the color of your pet's stool and urine. A healthy dog’s urine is straw yellow. If you notice a change in color this should alert you to head to the clinic for an urgent check-up.

An article by the team at Hair Clippers Club.

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