His Good Health!
As you know prevention is always better than cure, so we suggest you get your friend regularly checked out for any possible signs of illness. A quick check-up is also a great excuse for a hug and a cuddle!
Health check list:
- Body condition – Performing regular body condition checks on your dog is much easier than it sounds! It’s simply a matter of using your eyes and hands. When you run your hands over your dog, you should be able to feel and (depending on breed/coat length) sometimes see their ribs relatively easily, with only a slight covering of fat. Your dog should have a well-defined hourglass waist when viewed from above and the belly should slope upwards from the chest towards the hindlegs. Regular checks can help you notice any gradual weight loss or gains that may occur over time.
- Ears - Your best friend’s ears should always be clean, without any thick waxy discharge, redness, itchiness or odour. However some long-eared breeds would probably benefit from regular ear-cleaning with special ear cleaners - which is likely to be recommended by your vet. If your dog starts to hold his head to one side, rubs one side of his face along the carpet/grass or is always shaking his head, pop down to your vet for a thorough ear examination!
- Eyes – Your family friend’s beautiful, expressive eyes should be bright and clear, with no signs of runniness, redness or soreness. Your dog shouldn’t squint or shy away from light and if you notice him bumping into objects all of a sudden that’s not really like him, we recommend you ask your vet to take a look at him.
- Nose – Next time you give your best friend a hug, take a quick look at his nose. Noses can change from black to pink and back again. There should be no crusting on the surface of a healthy nose, nor should there be any runny or thickened discharges or bleeding. It is also worth noting that a healthy nose doesn’t always have to be very cold or wet!
- Mouth – Teeth should be white/cream with no excess tartar, which looks thick and brown. The gums should be a healthy pink or black and not red, swollen or bleeding.If your dog has bad breath, this could be an indication of bacterial overgrowth or plaque on the teeth/gums, which can lead to tooth decay. So to keep your dog healthy and happy make sure you ask your vet to check your best friend’s teeth every time you visit!
- Skin & Coat – Stroking and cuddling your dog is a joy for all the family, but what’s beneath that lovely coat? Your dog's skin can be pink or black depending on the pigments common to that breed or the individual genetic history. It should be free of crusting; itching, scaling, black/white spots and infected or hot and inflamed areas. The coat should be thick (depending on breed) and shiny with no broken hairs, bald patches, dandruff or fleas. Regular grooming is important and is for the kids to do !
- Nails - These should be smooth and can either be white or black. Nails that are roughened and flake or break easily may require veterinary attention.
- Digestion – Keep an eye on your dog's appetite and always know what you are feeding and what everyone else in the family may be feeding! If you decide to change his diet, make this a gradual process, normally over the course of 7-10 days. Occasional eating and regurgitation of grass can be normal, but generally speaking your dog should not be no vomiting, showing reluctance to eat or have difficulties when eating. But as with everything,if in doubt, seek veterinary advice.
- Thirst - If your dog suddenly becomes very thirsty or starts drinking more than usual without excessive exercise, it could indicate an underlying medical problem and we would recommend you consult your vet.
- Attitude - Your family friend’s general attitude to life can tell you … a lot! If you notice his head and tail are down and he seems quieter and less playful with all the family than usual, it could mean he’s feeling a little under the weather. Poorly dogs might skulk in corners, dig holes in the garden to lie in or sometimes appear unusually aggressive for no apparent reason. If you're worried at all, ask your vet’s advice.