As a dog owner, it’s really important that you get into the habit of checking your dog regularly for any changes or signs of illness. By doing regular checks, you will not only save yourself time and money on vet bills, but you will also help keep your pooch in the best possible health.
PetBucket is an online retailer, stocking pet vitamins and supplements to keep cats and dogs extra happy and healthy, as well as tick and flea treatment and preventatives.
Here they list three simple checks you should perform regularly on your four-legged friend to keep their tail wagging:
Check for fleas, ticks, lumps, cuts or inflammation
It is a sensible idea to perform a full body check on your dog every week. That way, you can groom your pet while checking for any fleas, ticks, or lumps, cuts or inflammation. It’s always best to keep your dog protected with preventative tick and flea treatment for dogs, as well as flea or tick collars if you’re in an area prone to ticks.
Lumps are common in older dogs – and most are benign (non-cancerous) – but it is still worth going to your vet for tests if you notice a new bump on or under the skin.
Watch out for signs of weight loss
While you are doing a full body check, you should be able to feel your four-legged friend’s ribs but not more than that. Watch for signs of weight loss or gain as this could point to health issues like diabetes.
Dog diabetes is comparable to human diabetes. If your dog gets diagnosed, don’t panic; with good care, your friend can still lead a long, healthy life. You will need to be extra vigilant however that your dog maintains a healthy weight, so it is a good idea to ask your vet for a nutritional plan.
2. Keep an eye on their attitude and energy levels
Is Fido often skulking in the corner?
Your dog’s general attitude can tell you a lot about their health condition. If his head is slumped or his tail isn’t wagging, or if he’s looking sad, slumped in a corner, this could indicate he’s feeling poorly. It’s worth taking him to the vet if this attitude persists.
Is your dog struggling to keep up with you when on a walk?
Every doggy loves a long walk, and regular exercise is essential for keeping your pooch fit and healthy.
But while it’s normal for your dog to be tired after a big walk or a long day out, if your dog appears slow or is unable to keep up with you, this could be a sign of a health problem, whether it’s arthritis, a heart-related issue or a digestive problem.
How to slow the effects of arthritis in your dog
If your canine companion has early arthritis, you may notice his walking is stiff, or that he groans when getting into a lying down position. Common in dogs – especially those in their senior years – the condition is a combination of age plus wear and tear on the joints, and can be very painful for your poor pup. Luckily, there are a number of ways you can relieve and ease your doggy’s arthritic pain, and even slow the effects of arthritis. Here are two top tips:
- Give your dog supplements to promote healthy cartilage and joint health
Glucosamine and chondroitin are two of the most popular supplements for doggies with joint problems or arthritis, as they work to help rebuild smooth cartilage in the joints and relieve your poor pup’s pain
- Treat him to regular muscle massages
Muscle massages are a great way to stimulate blood flow and encourage deeper circulation. Avoid putting pressure directly on your four-legged friend’s painful joints; instead, start by lightly petting your dog all over, working the area around the joints to stimulate circulation and drainage. Massages twice a day are a great way of slowing the effects of arthritis or relieving the painful symptoms, and should be performed for around 10 minutes on small dogs, and between 15 – 20 minutes on larger dogs
Is your dog limping?
Similarly, if your dog has a limp, this is usually a sign of an illness or an injury. Check your dog doesn’t have a cut or an object stuck in their paw or a torn nail. If it’s not one of the former issues, it is best to go to a vet and get their expert opinion.
3. Check their eyes and mouth
Healthy dog eyes are clear and pupils are the same size
When you’re checking your pooch’s eyes, gently hold their head and look into each eye carefully for signs of infection, dirt, grass or any other type of debris. A healthy dog’s eyes are clear and the pupils should be the same size.
Bloodshot eyes could point to an infection
If your dog’s eyes are bloodshot, this is usually due to the presence of an infection. Eye infections are unsurprisingly very uncomfortable for dogs, and can spread if not treated quickly, so if you notice something unusual, it’s best to get it checked out with your vet. To try and keep infections at bay, it’s important to be proactive; don’t let you dog drink from stagnant water sources and feed him a healthy diet.
Healthy dog gums are a shrimp-colored pink
When checking your dog’s mouth, healthy gums are typically a shrimp-colored pink. If you spot any dark or red patches, or if the gums are inflamed, this could be a sign of gingivitis. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums and is the early stage of a gum disease. It’s one of the most common diseases in dogs, and is usually a sign of poor dental hygiene.
How to prevent gum disease
To try and prevent this painful disease, take your dog for regular oral exams and cleanings, make sure you brush their teeth every day, and offer treats or toys for them to chew on.
If you do notice any of these warming symptoms when checking your dog’s gums, or if you spot any growths or lumps, this could be indicative of health problems, so it’s best to visit your vet as soon as possible.
Similarly, if your pup’s breath doesn’t smell too good, don’t ignore it. Smelly breath can indicate a digestive health problem, so again, it’s best to take them to see the vet and get it checked out.