Your instinct as a dog mother or father is no doubt second to none. You can sense when your dog is hungry, sleepy, or just in need of a cuddle.
But do you know how to check if your pup's health is in tip-top shape? This can be tricky—especially considering that your pooch can’t just tell you with words that something isn’t quite right! Fortunately, there are some tell-tale signs you can keep an eye on in order to ensure your dog is healthy. Here are six ways to tell:
Does your dog boast a shiny coat? It’s a good sign your dog’s nutrition is in top shape. A dull coat could be a sign of nutritional deficiencies. If your pup’s coat lacks any sort of sheen (and your dog isn’t a wire- or curly-haired breed) it may be a good idea to look into his diet. Are you feeding clean food without a lot of additives? Your dog may need a boost of Omega-3 fatty acids, such as in Omega Chews. According to the American Kennel Club, Omega-3 fatty acids help promote a shiny coat and can also help reduce inflammation.
Pain-free joints are one of the greatest signs your dog is in good health. Many dogs unfortunately suffer from osteoarthritis, particularly as they age. According to a study conducted by Banfield Pet Hospital, 16% of geriatric dogs are diagnosed with arthritis.
If your dog is experiencing joint pain of any kind, consult your veterinarian. Administering supplements like Hemp & Hips chews may help ease symptoms (and can help prevent aging-related pain), but check with your vet to ensure your pup isn’t experiencing an injury.
One of the best ways to keep your dog's joints healthy is through exercise! And it's even more important as your dog ages. Try to get your pup out for at least one good walk each day. It can help you stay in shape, too!
“Many dog parents aren’t aware of the state of their dog’s teeth and gums until they realize their dog is in physical pain,” says Angela Stringfellow from Pet Life Today. “But prevention is always better than a cure.”
Surprisingly, the American Veterinary Dental College says dogs can exhibit dental disease symptoms by the time they’re just three years old. Stringfellow suggests talking to your vet about how best to care for your dog’s teeth. She may suggest using a special dog toothbrush and toothpaste at home. (Note: While it’s OK to use a child-size toothbrush, do *not use human toothpaste on your pup’s teeth!)
“Regular teeth cleanings are also a must to prevent tooth decay,” Stringfellow adds. “If your dog is already exhibiting signs of dental disease (like bleeding gums, foul breath, or cracked or darkened teeth), don’t delay in seeking help.”
One of the best things about dogs is their boundless energy. If your four-legged pal is always up for a game of fetch or eagerly anticipating walks, this is certainly a comforting sign.
But what does it mean if your dog’s energy levels have dropped? There can be a number of causes of lethargy in dogs, including infection, metabolic disease, or even certain medications. It’s vital to not dismiss lethargy as a minor problem. Consult your veterinarian about noticeable behavior changes, and/or if the problem seems to be ongoing.
Does your dog clean his plate--and then some? Do his eyes light up when he hears the rattle of a can of dog food? These are key indicators Fido has a healthy appetite.
If your dog’s appetite has changed, this could be cause for concern. Hopefully, it could be something simple like he doesn’t like his current food. But it could be something more serious, such as a sign of a medical condition. If your dog is experiencing a loss of appetite, consult your vet.
One of the not-so-nice parts about being a dog parent is dealing with your pooch’s business. But there’s an upside to this task—dogs’ stools provide a good indicator of when they’re healthy… and when they’re not. According to Hill’s Pet, healthy poop (prepare yourself) should be a little firm with no coating, and ideally shaped like slightly cleaved logs.
If your dog’s poop doesn’t resemble this description in the slightest (or if it’s smelling foul), it may be time to take action. Hill’s Pet recommends looking at ‘the four Cs:’ content, coating, color, and consistency for signs that something isn’t quite right. If there’s cause for concern, consult your veterinarian.
If the above were a quiz and your dog scores six out of your six: You’re in good shape. And so is your pup! As with any veterinary health concern, it’s wise to consult with your dog’s veterinarian. Pet insurance may also be a good idea, as part of your dog’s overall health program. It can not only help ease the burden on your wallet, it could help make it easier for your dog to get the care she needs. Hopefully by watching the above six signs, you can help keep your dog in tip-top shape for life.