How Do You Know Your Dog Is Healthy?

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Healthy dog lying on her back relaxing comfortably

Our dogs can't communicate with us in words, but they can give us signs to indicate whether they're healthy or unhealthy. How do you know your dog is healthy? Look for these common signs of a healthy dog, as well as potential signs of sickness in a dog.

Signs of a healthy dog

Here are some general signs of a healthy dog:

  • Skin is smooth, supple, and free of scabs, growths, and rashes.
  • Coat is glossy, without dandruff or any areas of baldness, and with no signs of parasites.
  • Eyes are bright, not watering, and free of discharge.
  • Insides of the ears are light pink (though dark-skinned dogs can have black pigment), clean or with just a trace of wax, not swollen, and free of discharge.
  • Nose is moist — not necessarily wet, but not dry or cracked.
  • Temperature is between 100 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit (101.5 is the average).
  • Gums are pink, though they can have black or gray pigment.
  • Stools are firm and free of parasites.

Signs of an unhealthy dog

If you think your dog might be sick, schedule a vet visit as soon as possible. You know your dog best, and not all dogs show illness in the same way. Here are some general signs of an unhealthy dog:

  • A significant change in behavior (such as increased irritability)
  • Perceived pain or lethargy
  • Visible pain (such as limping or chewing on a particular body part like a joint)
  • Persistent vomiting, diarrhea, and/or coughing
  • Lack of appetite
  • Excessive drinking and/or urination

If any of these symptoms last more than 24 hours, you should bring your dog to your veterinarian. Also, don't forget about routine vet checkups and dental care to help prevent problems and keep your dog healthy and happy.