People used to say a cold, wet nose was a sign a dog was healthy. This might have been a more reliable indicator before our pets spent their days on sofas enjoying the central heating! But really the temperature of your dog’s nose doesn’t tell you much. A sick dog can have a cold, wet nose and a healthy one can have a warm, dry nose. If you are looking at your best friend wondering ‘is my dog healthy?’, you need better criteria.
If your dog’s condition or behaviour changes dramatically or your pet is showing signs of illness, injury or distress, check with your vet sooner rather than later.
If you are curious about evidence that your dog is enjoying optimal wellness, here are 12 signs of a healthy, happy dog.
Alert & Interested
A healthy dog is aware of everything going on around them. They are right there when you open the cupboard where the treats are, and they bark when the post comes. If your pets are anything like ours, we bet they can tell the difference between the crinkle of Leader Train Me Treats or their Go Native Herring treats - but either way, their interest and enthusiasm for their favourite treats is a great way to keep an eye on their health. Healthy pets do a perimeter check when they go out in the garden, sniffing everywhere. When you call their name, they respond quickly. They’ll react to noises and look out windows.
Active & Playful
The sight of their lead gives them joy. Their tail wags. A healthy dog enjoys exercise and play. They bring you their toys and are excited when you approach with a toy to play. Older dogs will be calmer and quieter, but they still enjoy their walks.
If a dog is standing strangely, that can be a sign they are in pain. A hunched back suggests abdominal pain. A healthy dog will stand with their head up and their weight evenly on all four paws. If their tail is very low, that can be a sign of distress or fear. If their head is consistently tilted to one side, even when they aren’t listening to something, that can be a sign of a problem.
All dogs, no matter what type of coat they have, benefit from a weekly brushing. This gives you a chance to notice any problems with their skin. A dog’s skin should be smooth and free of flakes, bumps or scabs. If your dog is itching or chewing their skin persistently, that’s a problem that’s likely to get worse if it isn’t investigated and solved.
Sometimes, food allergies can be the culprit behind uneven or irritated skin. If your vet agrees, Leader Sensitive Food can be a great, hypoallergenic and easily digestible option for more sensitive or allergy-prone dogs.
If you are wondering ‘is my dog healthy’, a glance at their coat can tell you a lot. Not all dogs will be as glossy as a spaniel or setter, but their coat should be shiny and full. Watch for thinning or dull fur. This can be a sign of a range of health problems from minor to major. If the dog otherwise seems well, it might just be that their food isn’t giving them the optimum balance of nutrients. We love the effect that our Leader Nutri Vigor - Skin and Coat Care Treats can have on pups whose coats need a little TLC.
A bit of earwax is nothing to panic about, but if your dog’s ears are regularly full of wax or discharge, they could have an infection or ear mites. Your dog’s ears should smell clean, and the skin inside should be smooth. The colour is normally pink and definitely not red.
Bright, Clear Eyes
While an older dog might have somewhat cloudy-looking eyes, they shouldn’t have much discharge. Like us, the sight of your dog will deteriorate a bit with age, but unlike most of us, they aren’t very dependent on it. However, excess discharge suggests infection or irritation.
Dog breath isn’t minty fresh, but it shouldn’t be downright foul either. Canine dental care is important, and a dog needs reasonably clean teeth to remain healthy. We need to feed a wholesome diet with crunchy dry food, offer dental sticks and yes, brush their teeth. Neglected teeth lead to gum disease, which can lead to serious problems such as heart trouble.
Eating well and enjoying their food are signs of a happy dog. Good food is the foundation of a dog’s good health, and they should enjoy their meals. If your dog is off their food for more than a day, it is worth checking with the vet.
Regular Bowel Habits
Your dog’s output is an indicator of their health. Solid, brown stool at reasonably predictable times is a sign your dog is well. Loose stools or constipation suggest a problem. Dogs are notorious for eating dodgy things they find, and affects their digestion. An occasional episode of loose stool or constipation isn’t worrisome, but it shouldn’t be the norm.
If your dog is eating and exercising appropriately, it follows that their weight should be fairly stable. An overweight dog is more prone to health problems affecting their joints and heart. Being underweight can be a sign of a health problem. And any dramatic or unexplained change in weight should be discussed with your vet.
Dogs thrive on routine. Some dogs have such a keen sense of time they always know when their human is due home from work or when it is time to bring the children to school. It’s in their nature to want to do the same things at the same time, so if your dog stops asking for a walk at the normal time, there might be a problem such as joint pain or illness.
If you’re wondering ‘is my dog healthy’, you might wish they could talk and give you a complete and clear answer. While our dogs can’t use words to communicate how they feel, but they have many other ways of showing us. A playful attitude and shiny coat are important signs your dog is thriving. Wholesome, nutritious food, regular exercise and grooming and plenty of love are the keys to a happy, healthy dog.
Need a little inspiration for some healthy treats for your pooch? Check out our selection here!