Keeping a dog healthy and content is neither as easy nor as difficult as many people think. What it takes is an owner who is willing to devote the necessary time and energy to exercise, train, groom, and attend to the other needs of their pet. Conscientious dog care actually begins before you buy the dog, by realistically evaluating the time you have to spend on a dog and opting for a breed whose needs do not outstrip your resources. Good dog care is the dog owner’s responsibility. A healthy dog requires proper nutrition, regular grooming and exercise sessions, training for good behavior, and plenty of love. And don’t forget that even a well-cared for, healthy dog needs to be examined and vaccinated regularly by a veterinarian.
Although dogs can’t come right out and announce how they feel, the alert owner can always tell something is not quite right by changes in the dog’s normal appearance or behavior.
Each dog is unique, with its own characteristics, appearance, and personality. What may be normal for one dog may not be for another; only the dog’s owner and veterinarian know what is normal for any one particular dog. Get acquainted with the way your dog acts and looks from day to day. Changes in appearance or behavior could be clues to possible illness. In general, however, the following describes the physical state of a healthy dog.
Signs Of A Healthy Dog:
Skin – Healthy skin is smooth and flexible, ranging from pale pink to brown, or black. Spotted skin is normal in dogs with spotted or solid-color coats. No scales, scabs, growths, or areas of redness should be visible. Dogs have seasonal shedding cycles, which may occasionally change. A healthy coat, however, is glossy and pliable, without dandruff, excessive oiliness, or areas of baldness. Make sure you check to see if your dog has fleas, or other external parasites.
Eyes – A healthy dog has bright, shiny eyes free of excessive watering or discharge. Eyelashes and hair should not rub against the eyeball; this is especially a concern for owners of longhaired breeds. The whites of the eyes should not appear yellowish.
Ears – The outside of the ear flap is covered with hair similar to the rest of the body. The skin inside the dog’s ear is light pink, clean, and lightly covered with hair. A small amount of yellow, brown, or black wax may be present in the ear canals, but an overabundance of this wax is abnormal. Healthy ears do not emit a bad smell, they are not red, swollen, itchy, or painful to the dog, and do not exude a discharge.
Mouth – Healthy gums will appear pink or pigmented (black or spotted) and will feel firm. The edges of healthy gums surround the teeth, which are free from soft white matter and hard white, yellow, or brown material. Your dog should not have unpleasant breath.
Nose – A dog’s nose is normally cool and moist. Any secretions from the nose are clear and watery, not cloudy, yellow, or green, thick, or foul smelling. The nose should not be red or irritated.
Temperature – The normal temperature range for a dog is 101-102.5 degrees F (38.3-39.2 degrees C)
Pulse – The heart rate of a healthy dog depends on its size and condition. Normally, the heart beats 50 to 130 times per minute in a resting dog. It is faster in puppies and small dogs, slower in large dogs or those in particularly good physical condition.
Elimination – Urine excreted by a healthy dog is yellow and clear. Most adult dogs move their bowels once or twice a day; the stools are well-formed and generally brown. Large amounts of odorous, loose, or unusually colored stool are abnormal.