Dogs aren’t capable of telling us if something is wrong, so as dog owners, we have a responsibility to check up on them frequently. Usually, dogs will have their unique way of letting us know something isn’t right, so we must pay attention to any changes in our dog’s behavior or routine. Checking over our dog at home can help to spot health conditions before they become serious. Below we look at how to check your dog’s health at home, and when you need to take them to a vet.
One thing you should keep an eye on is your dog’s bowel movements. As a dog owner, you know your dog better than anyone. This includes knowing how many times they usually poop, and signs of a healthy poop. This will depend on their diet and breed. If you notice a sudden change in the color, hardness, or size of your dog’s poop, this could be a sign that something isn’t working as it should.
Constipation in dogs is common and you may notice your dog straining and struggling to poop. They may also eat less. If your dog starts vomiting or has diarrhea, this could be a sign of infection, or that they have eaten something that didn’t agree with them. If you have recently changed their food, this can cause digestion issues. Click here for more information on changing your dog’s diet safely, to avoid issues.
One of the first signs that something is wrong with your dog is a change of appetite. Often, when your dog isn’t feeling well, he will stop eating or will leave food in the bowl. He may also stop begging for food and won’t be interested in treats. Some conditions may change your dog’s appetite the opposite way, and it seems that no amount of food will keep them satisfied. If you notice a change to your dog’s appetite, it could be a sign of an infection, problems with their gums or teeth, constipation or other digestive issues.
Tetanus, which can be caught by dogs as well as humans, is a bacterial infection. Tetanus in dogs can be dangerous if not treated and one of the signs of tetanus is sudden difficulty eating and drinking. For more information on tetanus in dogs, check out Native Pet’s handy guide. It includes other symptoms and what to do next if you suspect your dog has caught tetanus. The guide is put together by experienced pet owners who are passionate about helping your dog maintain a healthy immune system first and foremost through proper nutrition and supplements.
Skin and Coat
Regularly having a look at your dog’s skin and coat can indicate any skin conditions or fleas. It is important to regularly check for fleas, as these can cause a lot of pain and discomfort for your pooch. If your dog’s fur starts to look matted, or fur begins to fall out, it could be a sign of poor health. You should regularly groom your dog, including regular brushing, especially if your dog has long fur. Usually, your dog’s skin should be pink and clean. You may see symptoms of hot spots. If you notice redness, swelling, or lumps, visit your vet.
You should examine your dog’s teeth often to check for any signs of dental disease. Some of the main symptoms include excessive drooling, blood on the gums, bad breath, and loose teeth. You can promote good oral health in your dog with sticks that are designed to clean the mouth and prevent dental diseases. You should also avoid too many unhealthy treats. Your pooch’s gums should look healthy and will be either pink or black. Teeth should be white and should not be covered in any tartar, which will look thick and brown.
Feet and Nails
Your dog’s nails should be regularly trimmed as this promotes healthy growth and will stop any discomfort or ingrown nails. When you are trimming their nails, check their feet for any signs of injury. The pads of the feet should be clean and not cut or torn. If they have been injured, they may start to limp or lick their paw a lot. Check your dog’s nails for good health, as split nails could be a sign that something isn’t right. Your dog’s nails should not break easily; if they do, check for other signs of illness or infection. As a dog owner, there are some dog nail problems you should know about.
Eyes, Ears, and Nose
Your dog’s eyes should be clean and free of discharge. If your dog’s eyes are leaking, this could be a sign of an eye infection or an allergy. If your dog’s eyes have become bloodshot and red, visit your vet as this is usually a sign of poor health. You should be checking inside your dog’s ears once a week.
Dogs can get ear infections and some breeds are especially prone to catching these infections, such as Cocker Spaniels. A healthy ear should look pink and have no visible discharge or wax. A big sign of an ear infection is smell, so if your dog’s ears don’t smell right, speak to your vet. If your dog has an ear infection or a problem in their ear, you may notice that they are scratching their ears a lot and shaking their head.
A dog’s nose can also tell you a lot about its health. Usually, a dog’s nose should be wet. If it is dry, this could be a sign of dehydration. Your dog’s nose should also be clean and cool. Every dog is different but most dogs have a black or pink nose. Make sure you know what is normal for your pooch. If your dog has any crusting, bleeding, or discharge from their nose, this is a sign they are unwell and need veterinary attention.
Checking your dog’s health regularly at home could help in spotting an illness before it worsens. Other things to look out for are personality changes, as dog owners can instinctively tell when something is wrong. If you do notice any changes, write them down and take the information to the vet, as this can help determine the cause. If you are examining your dog at home and are worried about any changes, speak to your vet.