Keeping up with your dog's wellbeing is just as important as keeping up with your own. If you perform a general health check up at home each month, you can better notice any slight changes that may indicate a health dilemma in your pup. Take ten minutes to look over all areas of their body, and if you notice anything unusual that is a cause for concern, make sure to call your veterinarian.
The eyes should be bright, clear and moist, and the whites of the eyes should be completely white. They should also be free of any green, yellow or white discharge, and without cloudiness in the cornea. Their eyelids should be fully open, as opposed to being half closed or rapidly blinking.
Take a peak inside the ear canal to see if they're both clean, dry and a pale pink color. If you spot an odor-some wax or pus-like discharge (especially if it's green or yellow), they may have a serious infection. If your pup scratches or paws at their ears, or if turns their head suddenly when you attempt to massage them, there is also a high possibility that there is a problem.
When scanning their nose, ask yourself if it's smooth and clean. If the answer is yes, you're furry pal is well. If you notice crustiness or discharge coming from the nostrils, redness or change in the pigment, it is best to take your dog to a vet. Keep in mind that it's okay for their nose to alter between wet and dry, and cold and warm throughout the day. If their nose remains warm for some time, they be suffering from a fever.
It will take time for your pet to get adjusted to having their mouth opened, so remain patient when they try to maneuver themselves away from your hold. It is best to hold their lower jaw with one hand and hold back both their lips with the other. Once you get a good view, examine the gums for paleness, a red-ish color, receding gums and rotten/broken teeth, which can indicate a health issue since healthy gums are moist and a salmon-pink color. To test good circulation and hydration is to press the tip of your finger on their gums to see if it momentarily turns white then back to the normal pink. If it takes longer a few seconds, there may be a serious problem.
As for your dog's teeth, they should be a white-yellow hue and free of build up. Don't worry if their breath has a typical dog-odor, but do take precaution if it's more foul-like and unbearable. Lastly, the tongue should be wet and pink.
Use both hands to rub your pet's entire body, starting from the top of the head all the way to the the neck, shoulders, back, sides, belly and legs. Feel for any lumps or bumps, and signs of discomfort from your dog as you perform this assessment. To search for potential injuries of the joints, gently flex their wrists, elbows, shoulders and knees.
Look at all four paws to see if there are any thorns, grass seeds or glass that can be stuck between the toes or in the pads. Make sure the bottoms are not red or oozing with discharge, as they should be a combination of pink and a tint, of what looks like, a dark black. Your dog's nails should not be overgrown or cracked.
Depending on the breed of your animal, his/her coat texture may vary; however, a healthy coat is shiny, full and feels smooth/silky, whereas soiled, dry or brittle hair ensures something is wrong.
Brush aside the hair to inspect the skin underneath to see is there are any scabs, flaky patches, rashes, welts or areas of bleeding. Healthy skin should feel warm and not cold or clammy, and be without inflammation. Look out for consistent licking, biting, scratching or chewing anywhere on the body, as there could be a more serious issue.
Although it's not the most pleasant place to look, it's important to check every area of your dog. It should be clean, soil-free and without any discharge.