How to take care of your dog's health - Tips and advice
Check that your dog is in perfect body condition on a scale of 1-9 (BCS), is not overweight or underweight - a noticeable change in your dog's weight may be a symptom of an underlying health problem, so if you notice it, consult your veterinarian immediately.
Being a responsible dog owner also means checking his body condition regularly. Start by running your hands over the dog's sides and use your fingers to feel his ribs. A dog's ribs should be easily felt and covered with a small layer of fat. Depending on the breed and coat length, your quadruped can also be seen. When viewed from above, you should be able to see a clearly defined hourglass-shaped waist of the dog, while to the side, the abdomen should be arched, possibly leading in a straight line from the chest to the legs without any noticeable fat.
Check your dog's ears for redness, itching, or an unnatural odor. A dog's ideal ear should be clean and free from brown or green earwax.
Certain breeds are more likely to develop ear problems. Dogs with hanging ears should be checked regularly to keep their ears clean. On the other hand, short-haired breeds with erect ears (or those with white-haired ears) are at risk of sunburn.
When cleaning your dog's ears, remember that this is a very delicate and sensitive part of his body, so use products recommended by your veterinarian. It is also not advisable to insert ear buds into the ear canal, as the tympanic membrane may easily perforate. To protect your ears from sunburn, which can lead to skin cancer in your dog, apply sunscreen to your dog's ears on hot, sunny days.
If your dog keeps shaking his head, starts twisting his head to one side, or rubs one side of his mouth against the carpet or grass, this could indicate an ear infection in your dog. In this case, you should take your quadruped to the veterinarian for an examination.
A dog's eyes should be bright and clear without any redness, soreness, or tearing. Gently point the dog's head (but not directly) towards the light and see how it responds to it. If your dog squints or refuses to do so, the light may be hurting him. Also, make sure your dog doesn't suddenly bump into things. If you notice any vision problems in your dog, consult your veterinarian.
The dog's nose
You will probably associate a healthy dog with a cold, wet nose, but this is not a real way to prove that he is in good health. When looking at the dog's nose, pay attention to whether it has scabs, is runny nose or is leaking thick fluid or blood.
Some dogs have pink noses as their nose color changes from black to pink and back again. This is perfectly normal so nothing to worry about, but if your dog's nose is bothering you take him to your vet for a checkup.
Nobody wants their beloved dog to have bad breath, but in dogs it is not only a social problem - it can actually be a symptom of a disease, for example, with the digestive system or kidneys. A dog's teeth should be white / cream-colored with no excess tartar (thick brown coating) and gums pink or black depending on skin pigmentation, but never swollen or bleeding. Pay attention to whether the dog has problems with eating, such as dropping food, reluctant eating, excessive salivation, sticking claws in its mouth or bad breath. Always ask to see your dog's teeth when visiting your veterinarian. Ideally, your dog should be used to brushing his teeth at least twice a week and ideally every other day.
Dog skin and hair
A dog's healthy skin should be pink or black, depending on the pigmentation of each breed or your dog's genetic makeup. When checking your dog for skin problems, use your fingers to separate their fur and see for scabs, scratches, scaly spots, black or white spots, and skin that is infected or inflamed.
The dog's coat should be thick (depending on the breed), shiny, with no broken hair, bald patches, dandruff or fleas. Moulting in dogs is natural and lasts all year round, but worsens in summer and fall. For healthy skin and hair for your dog and your own rugs, brush him regularly and invest in a decent vacuum cleaner. Non-dancing breeds such as poodles also require regular brushing, although they do not lose hair as much.
Dog's paws and claws
Extreme weather conditions can cause problems with your dog's paws and damage them, so watch them regularly. After a winter walk, you should wipe the dog's paws, as road salt may collect on the pads. It is toxic if your dog ingests it by licking its paws. There is another danger in summer - the sun. Hot surfaces, including asphalt, can burn the dog's paw pads, so it's best to walk with your pet on the grass.
When checking a dog's claws, see if they are smooth and fully formed. Claws can be black or white. If you notice a broken or missing claw in your dog, or if you think the claws are rough, splitting, or brittle, take your dog to the vet. Also, don't forget to check the wolf's claws - you will find them on the inside of the leg, just above the paw. Some dogs have it on their front legs, others on all four, and some dogs don't have dewclaws at all.
Digestion in a dog
Dogs constantly crave food and will not refuse if fed by more than one family member. Only one person in the house should be responsible for feeding the dog (even if he sometimes delegates someone else) and the same person should keep a close watch on the dog's appetite and digestion. Meals should be regular and at the same time and size as recommended on the packaging of the feed from the manufacturer. For example, if your dog requires a diet change, change it gradually and in a controlled manner over 7-10 days, paying particular attention to how the change affects your dog's appetite and defecation.
It is normal for your dog to eat and regurgitate occasionally, but watch out if there is any other type of vomiting, your dog is reluctant to eat, or has difficulty swallowing.
Being a responsible dog owner also applies to the topic of defecating your dog - check the color and consistency of the faeces. A dog's stools should be effortless and uniformly brown and firm (resemble a compact cigar or plasticine). The stools should be free of blood or mucus (clear jelly) and any symptoms of urinary or stool incontinence in your dog should be taken seriously. Any changes in your dog's appetite or digestion may be normal, but may also be a symptom of subclinical disease, so it's always a good idea to check with your vet.
Your dog is thirsty
If your dog suddenly becomes very thirsty or starts drinking more water than before despite not exercising excessively, this could be a symptom of an underlying disease or health issue, so you should consult your veterinarian.
The mobility of the dog
Older dogs may have joint problems and exercise may be painful for them. During monthly examinations, pay attention to your dog's movements, especially on wet and cold days or after prolonged lying or sitting. If you notice any signs of stiffness in your dog, make small changes to his lifestyle, such as taking long journeys in the car to let the dog stretch his bones, spread the rug to keep the dog from slipping, avoid stairs. Also, talk to your veterinarian about any medications or diet for your dog that may be helpful.
Behavior of the dog
You know your dog better than anyone, so you'll be the first to notice changes in his behavior. You can learn a lot from your dog's body language - for example, if your dog has a lowered head and tail appear quieter and less playful than usual, it could mean that your dog is feeling unwell. Sick dogs sometimes hide in a corner, dig pits in the garden and lie in them, and sometimes they are just aggressive for no apparent reason. If you are worried about something or if you notice changes in your dog, always consult a veterinarian with a detailed description of the circumstances that concern you.
Tips from your dog's health checklist will help you keep your dog healthy, making you and your dog happy together.