By Liz McGehee

What are the signs of a healthy dog?  Dogs don’t come with an owner’s manual and new dog owners sometimes don’t know if their dogs need veterinary care.  But dog owners can count on a healthy pup when they observe the following seven qualities.

  1.  Attitude Although some dogs will always be more or less active than others, healthy dogs are active and playful.  They wag their tails a lot and enjoy their food.  But if they are adult dogs, they neither lose nor gain weight.  They take interest in their people and their surroundings and get enough sleep, but not too much.
  2. Coat and Skin Dogs let their people know they have skin and coat problems by biting and licking.  Many dogs try to lick their skin problems away.  The most common canine skin problem is flea bite allergy, which can continue for weeks after fleas have been eradicated.
  3. Dental Health Many dogs have dental issues.  Without having their teeth brushed several times a week and dental checkups at the vet at least once a year, many dogs, especially smaller ones, develop red gums and loose teeth.  The only way to prevent the gingivitis that leads to canine periodontal disease is brushing your dog’s teeth on a regular basis.
  4. Movement Dogs need daily play time.  They should have pain-free, fluid movements, although; many dogs will not be able to go up and down stairs.
  5. Poop Your dog’s poop should be firm and brown.  Anytime either constipation or diarrhea continues for longer than 2 days, you should consult a veterinarian.  Poop should also be parasite-free.
  6. Smell Healthy dogs are odor-free.  They do not have the malty or yeasty smell associated with skin and ear infections.  They do not have the fecal odor caused by impacted anal glands (which should only be treated by
    your vet).
  7. Temperature Normal body temperature for a dog is 101° to 102.5° F (38.3° to 39.2° C).  When your no-touch, infrared thermometer shows any higher or lower temperature, it is time to consult your vet.

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