A dog isn’t capable of assessing their own health, or communicating health concerns with you when they arise, so it is important to routinely give your best friend a quick check-up to ensure they are at their healthy best. A few quick checks can give a pretty good picture of overall health and will catch many issues before they become substantial problems. At Primo Pup, here is what we like to keep on eye on regularly to ensure good dog health.
Just like humans, dogs require regular oral care as well. Of course, brushing teeth is the best way to accomplish this, however, even with the most flavorful of toothpastes, this can often be a difficult task. Luckily recent years have seen lots of innovation in dog oral health maintenance. Be sure to provide an oral chew or water additive to your pet regularly to prevent gum disease, plaque and tartar buildup if your dog isn’t a fan of regular brushing.
In assessing oral health, open the jaw and look inside the mouth, inspecting the teeth for signs of plaque buildup (which most often occurs starting at the gum line). Also inspect the gums. They should be a healthy shade of pink and free of bleeding or inflation. Discolored gums should be reported to the vet as they may be indicative of health complications.
Take a look at your pets eyes to ensure that they are clean (especially near tear ducts). The lens should be free of scratches and clear. The whites should be mostly white and healthy looking, just as in a human. While a bit of redness is common, excessive redness or cloudy lenses should be reported to the veterinarian.
Because many dogs have large flaps over their ear canal that create a warm, moist environment, ears can be a major source of problems. This environment is heaven for yeast infections and other critters. When observing the ears, note any foul smell, discharge or discoloration – all of which may be a sign of an ear infection. Ears should be cleaned regularly using a specialty ear cleaner to keep them dry, clean and free of infection – but don’t overdo it – dogs ears are extremely sensitive and can suffer from over cleaning as well.
Skin & Coat
A dog’s skin is covered in hair, so it is a bit more difficult to inspect, but do your best with a regular skin and coat check. Check the skin for discolorations the best you can as well as any bumps, dryness, sensitivity and parasites. Inspect the coat as well for fleas and ticks as well as cleanliness. If the animal is experiences dry skin or coat or is shedding excessively, a skin and coat supplement may be a good addition to their diet.
Inspect the paws regularly to ensure that they are free of any foreign debris. The nails should be trimmed, but be careful not to trim too closely and into the quick. If in doubt, leave the trimming to a professional. The fur between the pads should be kept neatly trimmed as well.
While this test has the biggest “ick” factor, it is vitally important – and hey, you pick it up in the backyard and on walks anyway. When doing the regular duty duty, assess the stool for consistency – it should hold its shape, be firm, but not hard and free of visible contaminants. A stool sample can indicate a variety of medical conditions, so if anything seems out of the ordinary, take it to your veterinarian.
Of course, a healthy diet complemented with the appropriate supplement and condition specific nutritional support along with plenty of exercise and love are keys to the good health of a dog.