Your Dog’s Health is As Important As Your Health

Your Dog’s Health is As Important As Your Health

Your Dog’s Health is As Important As Your Health
By Caroline Sanchez

Learning how to give your dog a thorough home health check can help you detect any problems early on. Early detection is crucial in successfully treating potential health problems in your pet. Dogs can’t vocalize when they don’t feel well and it is ultimately your responsibility to notice if something is off with your dog. An animal in pain or feeling ill won’t be able to speak out and you should pay close attention to any changes in y our dog’s appearance or behavior to detect any health issues he may silently be suffering from.

If you suspect something is wrong with your dog you should never delay to get the advice of your veterinarian as conditions can escalate in a pet very quickly. Postponing treatment may result in more serious consequences than if you had sought treatment earlier.

Giving your dog regular health checks can be synchronized with your dog’s grooming schedule. You should already be grooming your dog regularly as this help you detect any problems as well as establishing a strong bond between you and your pet.

Skin and Coat:

The majority of dogs shed, with only a few exceptions. If your dog appears to be shedding hair, this is generally normal, but if he seems to be experiencing excessive hair loss or fur coming out in clumps resulting in bald patches, chances are there’s something wrong with your dog. Your dog’s skin and coat condition indicates the animal’s general health condition. Poor health usually results in poor skin and hair condition and monitoring your pet’s skin and coat can tell you a lot about your dog’s general health.

Inflamed or reddened skin, bald patches, dandruff, hives and scabs are indications that your dog has a health problem or even an allergy. Dogs can experience allergic reactions to different substances and their surroundings, just like humans. Allergic reactions in dogs usually manifest themselves in changes in skin and coat condition.

Every time you bathe or brush your dog you should make it a point to run your fingers through his coat to feel for any abnormalities. Look through your dog’s fur for any signs of fleas or ticks. Fleas and ticks can cause serious damage to a dog’s health and even one flea bite on a sensitive dog can result in a persistent allergy. Insect bites can cause secondary bacterial infections in dogs that make them extremely uncomfortable and hard to treat. This will end up costing you a considerable vet bill as well, so it is always better to detect these problems before they develop.

Ears:

Once you’ve finished thoroughly examining your dog’s coat you should take a look at his ears. A dog’s ears should look pink and clean. You can use a penlight to examine the dog’s ear canal. If you find any scabs, redness or swelling in the ear canal this is an indication that something is wrong. Ear mites usually produce a dark waxy substance in the ear which your vet can treat with over the counter topical medication. You should check to see if there are any foreign objects in your dog’s ear canal or excessive wax.

Never insert anything in your dog’s ears or try to clean them with a cotton swab; you can easily end up damaging your dog’s eardrums. If you want to clean your dog’s ears out, you can use some light olive oil, slightly warmed. Place a teaspoon of this into your dog’s ear and massage the ear, then allow the dog to shake any excess oil out. Of course make sure you do this in an appropriate area to avoid making a mess.

If you allow your dog to run in fields or you take him hiking in the woods, bits of foxtail and other plant debris may enter the ear canal. If this happens you should not attempt to remove them yourself, take your dog to the vet to have them removed as you could risk damaging your dog’s ears.

Eyes:

Next, take a look at your dog’s eyes. They should be bright and clear with no mucous, redness or puffiness. If they look cloudy or you suspect ulceration on the surface of the cornea you should take your dog to the vet immediately as these could be signs of a serious problem. If there is excessive discharge or crustiness around the eyes this is also a reason to visit the vet.

Nose:

The next thing you should do is to examine your dog’s nose. It should be slightly moist and cool, however some dogs have drier noses than others so you’ll have to discover what is normal in your dog. There should be no discharge or crustiness in the nose.

Teeth and Gums:

Surprisingly enough, many dog owners don’t understand the importance of proper canine dental hygiene and many people mistakenly believe that it is normal for their dog to have “doggie breath”. Nothing could be farther than the truth and excessive bad odor emanating from the mouth could be an indication of dental problems, digestive problems or kidney disease.

You can examine your dog’s gums and teeth by gently pulling back his lips. Your dog’s gums should be pink in color. The teeth should be clean and free of tartar and plaque. Gently press a finger to your dog’s gum to check for any signs of anemia. The area you pressed your finger against should turn white but quickly return to its normal pink color right away.

Although dogs aren’t as prone to dental cavities as we are, they are susceptible to gingivitis and gum disease. Plaque and tartar buildup can cause serious secondary infections in your dog. Badly maintained gums can allow bacteria to enter your dog’s system and cause kidney and liver failure so never neglect your dog’s dental hygiene.

If you’ve never brushed your dog’s teeth before now is the time to start. Getting a dog accustomed to having his teeth brushed isn’t difficult. You’ll need enzymatic toothpaste especially formulated for dogs and some patience. You can begin by allowing your dog to taste the toothpaste (most dog toothpastes are palatable to dogs), and then you can begin by gently massaging your dog’s gums with your finger. Do this for a few seconds every day until your dog is comfortable with this routine. Next try introducing a soft bristled toothbrush with some toothpaste and gently brush your dog’s teeth. Do this for a few seconds a day and your dog will eventually become comfortable with having his teeth brushed.

If your dog’s teeth are in poor condition or there is tartar buildup, you will need to take him to the vet for a professional cleaning.

Feet and Limbs:

You should routinely check your dog’s feet and limbs for any signs of swelling or injury. You can do this by gently rubbing your hands down your dog’s legs to detect any cuts, lumps or signs of pain. After hiking in the woods or a run in the fields, you should examine your dog’s paws for any burrs or foreign objects and remove them.

General Physical Condition:

You should be able to lightly feel a healthy dog’s ribcage; if you can’t feel your dog’s ribs this can be a sign that he’s overweight. If your dog has a thick and heavy coat, rub your hands along his sides to feel for his ribs. Some dog breeds are naturally thin but to be on the safe side regularly monitor your dog’s weight. Sudden changes in weight are almost always a sign that something isn’t right with your pet.

Gently pinch and pull the skin of your dog’s scruff, if it isn’t flexible and doesn’t spring back into position this is a sign that your dog is dehydrated. If you suspect your dog is dehydrated you should take him to the vet immediately, dehydration can quickly kill a pet.

Bowel Movements:

Make it a point to regularly check your dog’s anal glands. Infections can occur in a dog’s anal glands and any swelling or redness is an indication that your dog may be suffering from impacted anal glands. Familiarize yourself with your dog’s elimination habits as any sudden changes in elimination or urination could be a sign that the dog is ill. If abnormal elimination or urination persists longer than 24 hours take your dog to see the vet right away.

Behavior:

Drastic behavior changes in dogs usually mean something isn’t right. If your usually playful dog suddenly seems lethargic or reluctant to play this could be a sign he is sick. A normally gentle dog that seems to have changed into a grumpy, bad tempered individual seemingly overnight might be a sign that the dog is in pain. If you feel your dog is behaving out of character it may be best to take him to the vet for a quick checkup, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Provided by Caroline Sanchez of Chazhound.com a online retailer of luxury pet products including a killer selection of dog beds. Visit Chazhound for all of your dog needs or visit Caroline’s blog.

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