When you check a dog’s health at home, it can be a good way to catch any problems before they get worse. A quick checkup can help spot any signs of serious illness, such as a change in behavior, eating/sleeping patterns, or increased energy levels.
Checking your pet’s ears, nose, mouth, and eyes can help alert you to any changes in their health. It can also let you know when it’s time for a trip to the vet.
Your dog’s ears are a crucial part of their overall health. Regular ear cleaning, professional grooming and vet visits help to keep them healthy and free from infections.
In most dogs, a healthy ear looks light pink with no apparent dirt or inflammation. If you notice your dog shaking their head a lot or trying to scratch their ears a lot, this may be a sign that they have an ear infection.
Ear infections are common in certain breeds, including Basset Hounds and Cocker Spaniels, but all dogs can develop them at some point. A healthy ear also smells clean and odorless.
A dog’s nose is a critical part of their sense of smell. It contains about 100 million sensory receptors compared to humans’ five or six million, and it’s also home to Jacobson’s organ (also called the vomeronasal organ), which detects pheromones and potential mates.
While many people believe that a cold moist nose means your dog is healthy, this isn’t always the case. A sick dog could have a warm dry nose, or their nose may be runny or have a thick discharge.
The jaw is one of the most important areas to examine for signs of illness. Examining your dog’s jaw regularly can help you spot early signs of a variety of health problems, including gum disease and cancer.
Healthy dog gums are naturally pink, but any changes to this color can be a sign of an underlying problem. For example, pale gums could indicate a serious health concern such as kidney disease or anemia.
In addition, dark or black gums can indicate melanoma, a tumor that develops from melanocytes in the gum tissue. This is a very serious condition that should be monitored carefully by you and your vet.
Eyes are an important indicator of a dog’s overall health. Checking them regularly is a great way to catch any problems early and get them treated before they get worse.
Healthy eyes should be clear and bright, with a white area around them (iris color can vary from all one to streaked or marbled). They should have equal pupils (a mismatch may indicate head trauma or macular degeneration but usually resolves itself) and no cloudiness in the lenses.
Discharge in the eyes, especially green or yellow pus-like discharge, is a sign of an infection. Eye drops are available and can help relieve inflammation.
Looking into your dog’s mouth can help you spot early signs of dental problems. Just like in humans, plaque is formed when food particles and bacteria combine with saliva to form a sticky coating on your dog’s teeth, which can quickly harden into tartar.
If your dog has healthy gums, their gums should be pink (not white or red), with no swelling or dryness. They should also have clean teeth without any brownish tartar buildup.
If your dog has signs of dental health concerns, or their breath smells foul, take them to the vet for a full examination. They may have a liver, kidney or blood sugar problem that needs treating.
A dog’s skin is an important part of their overall health. It protects them from the elements and parasites, and it also forms a barrier to help keep water in the body and prevent electrolyte loss.
It’s covered with microbes that are good for your pet’s health – these bacteria keep their skin soft and healthy. Scientists are learning more about these beneficial species and how they keep pets healthy, which could lead to treatments for some skin diseases.
Check your dog’s coat for dandruff, excessive oiliness, and bald spots. In addition, look for hot spots, red irritated areas that feel hot to the touch. These can be a sign of inflammation or infection, and they should be looked at by your veterinarian if found.