Dog health: how to spot health problems with 7 easy checks
August 14, 2022
As any responsible pet owner will tell you, keeping your pet fit and healthy is super important. When you’re doing a great job keeping on top of vaccinations, parasite protection, nutrition, enrichment, and exercise, what else could you be doing for your canine companion?
Vet Albert Moussafir, who sees hundreds of dogs every year at our Whetstone practice, explains that regular health checks really matter and not just those your dog gets at the vets.
If you have any concerns about your dog’s health right now, book a check-up and our team can help.
Spotting dog health problems
Spotting dog health problems early can play a big part in keeping your dog healthier for longer, according to Albert. The earlier an issue is spotted, and veterinary help is sought, the sooner treatment can be started – lifesaving treatment in some cases.
Of course, your dog will get a nose-to-tail health check at their annual vaccination appointment at The Vet Whetstone, and many owners book interim checks every six-months too. However, as dogs age faster than humans, a lot can happen in a short space of time.
Albert therefore recommends that dog owners should regularly ‘check in’ with their dogs at home and look for anything out of the ordinary.
There are many different conditions that can affect dogs such as:
- Heart disease
- Kidney/liver disease
- Orthopaedic issues such as osteoarthritis
- Hormone related problems
- Skin issues
- Ear infections
- Dental disease
- and more
Chronic dog illnesses creep in very slowly and signs can be more difficult to spot as they start so gradually. Albert shares signs to look out for that may indicate an issue:
- Weight loss or gain
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in toileting
- Increased / decreased drinking
- Behaviour changes
- Skin / coat changes
- Lumps appearing or growing
7 areas on your dog to check at home
By checking your pet over regularly at home you can help to spot any signs of your dog’s health changing. Weekly grooming is a good time to do your own ‘dog health checklist’, which will help you learn what is normal for your dog. As part of your checks at home you should look at:
- Eyes should be bright and clear and the skin around the eyes a salmon pink colour. Some discharge from the eyes is normal, but anything excessive, green, gloopy, or causing your dog irritation needs looking at.
- Ears should look clean and have no strong smells, swelling, discharge, or pink/redness. Your dog shouldn’t be scratching or shaking their head a lot.
- A moist and soft nose is good, discharge or cracking of the skin – not so good.
- Their mouth… bad breath is a sign of dental disease so have a good sniff. Broken teeth, staining, red/inflamed gums, and a build-up of tartar are also signs of a problem. Healthy gums are typically moist and a salmon pink colour, or darker if that’s normal for your dog.
- Their skin/coat should have a healthy shine and no dandruff, matting, parasites, bald patches, or bad smells – it can dull with age. Have a good feel for lumps and bumps.
- Feet should have no overgrown fur in-between pads and nicely trimmed nails.
- When checking weight, you should be able to feel the ribs but not see them and your dog should have a defined waist.
If you spot changes in any of the above or are concerned, then it is best to get these checked over by one of our Vets to make sure there are no problems starting.