Animal health is a central part of human and environmental well-being. It contributes to ensuring sustainable development and a safe food supply.
1.3 billion people worldwide depend on livestock production for their income, nutritious food, clothing and fuel. In rural agriculture-based economies, two-thirds of smallholder farmers are reliant on their animals for livelihoods.
Your pet’s eyes are an essential part of their overall health. They help them see the world around them, and can also indicate problems.
A healthy animal’s eyes should be bright, shiny, and of equal size. When your pet’s pupils are narrowed, it can be a sign of a problem.
Animals like foxes, dogs, and tigers have pupils that look like vertical slits; animals like goats and horses have slits that are horizontal. Regardless of the shape, the pupil helps the animal’s eyes scan all angles and find danger, says Martin Banks, a vision scientist at the University of California, Berkeley.
Ears are one of the most important parts of a healthy animal. They help us hear and communicate with other animals.
A healthy dog’s ears look light pink and have no apparent dirt or inflammation. However, ear infections can occur and are very painful for your dog.
Keeping a close eye on your dog’s ears can help you detect signs of an infection. These include scratching, foul smells (often like yeast), redness and discharge.
Your nose is part of your body’s main gate to the respiratory system and a key to your ability to taste. It lets you smell and sense what’s going on around you, like a big batch of cookies or a gym bag full of dirty clothes.
Your nose is also home to many tiny hairs called cilia (say: SILL-ee-uh) that help move mucus from your sinuses and back of your nose into your throat, helping you breathe more easily. A normal nasal secretion should be thin and clear, whereas thick mucus or crustiness around the nostrils could indicate an upper respiratory infection or a sign of a more serious medical condition.
Healthy mouths smell good, look nice, and don’t contain too much plaque (a clear bacterial film that coats teeth). Mouths with bad breath, however, smell foul, and may have swollen gums or loose teeth.
Plaque forms constantly on a pet’s teeth, turning into hardened tartar if it isn’t removed within a week or two. Tartar irritates the gums and can cause inflammation (gingivitis) and periodontal disease, if left untreated. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help your pet maintain healthy teeth and gums. These include brushing regularly, feeding tooth-friendly foods, and treating your pet with treats that are designed to protect oral health.
The hair of a healthy animal is usually smooth and shiny. It also has the ability to hold its own against a good blow dry. It is important to condition your animal’s hair and skin with a quality conditioner or oil before you head out into the great outdoors. Keeping your pet’s coat supple will also reduce the risk of tangled strands.
Hair is a complex and fascinating structure. It is made of a combination of proteins and other substances including keratin, an important protein for a hair follicle to thrive on. It also features a well deserved lion’s share of the credit for being one of the most aesthetically pleasing parts of the body. The most interesting aspect of the hair is its ability to self-renew as long as it is kept moist.
Often overlooked but a crucial part of an animal’s overall health, the tail is an essential part of many mammals and reptiles. They’re used for a variety of reasons, including balance and navigation.
For example, a cat’s tail acts as a counterbalance to help it walk over uneven or slippery ground and jump on prey. Or a squirrel’s bushy tail aids in balance as the animal leaps from tree to tree.
A healthy animal has two lungs inside the chest, protected by a bony cage of ribs. Breathing takes place in these spongy lungs which are designed to take oxygen into the blood, release water from the blood and remove carbon dioxide from the blood.
When an animal is at rest or sleeping their breathing rate will usually be between 15 and 30 breaths per minute. A higher breathing rate could suggest anxiety, fever or pain. If your pet has fluid in their lungs or chest cavity this can make the breathing rate increase even faster and this is a sign that they need to be seen by your veterinarian.