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Is My Dog Healthy?

Is My Dog Healthy?

My dog is typically in pretty good spirits, but even dogs have off days. On those days, I wish he could tell me what was wrong. I know I can’t be alone in feeling this way. Having the ability to communicate with my dog would keep the anxiety at bay when I’m left wondering, ‘did he just eat something weird, or is he sick?’ This leads to the bigger picture question: Is my dog healthy?

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Dogs may not be able to talk to us like we want, but they have the ability to display physical signs of their health status, even without verbal communication. This month is Canine Fitness Month, so we’re focusing on answering the questions that can help keep our dogs around as long as possible.

Knowing the signs of a healthy pup can let you know when it’s time to step in with extra care or a visit to the vet. These are some indications that a dog is in good health:

Signs of a Healthy Dog

Some telltale signs that your pet is in good physical shape include having bright, clear eyes, regular and energized energy levels, a shiny coat, and being free of parasites, fleas, or ticks. These physical signs indicate that your pup’s body is functioning well and his immune system is robust. A healthy weight is also important. Many diseases can be prevented by keeping your dog at its proper weight. Finally, take note of his eating habits; too much or too little food intake can hint towards an underlying problem.

In addition to physical traits, behavioral cues are also helpful health indicators. Assessing your pet’s energy levels can also be informative. If he’s showing no sign of lethargy, depression, or disinterest, then this can suggest that he is feeling fit and healthy (though keep in mind how old he is- an elderly dog will likely not have the same energy levels as a younger pup!). Ideally, hunger and thirst levels should stay consistent; the occasional dips not being particularly concerning.

Is My Dog Healthy?

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Another factor is how well he gets along with other animals and people; if he withdraws from social situations more often than usual, this could be a red flag. And don’t forget his poop! Although food sensitivities and health issues can change consistency slightly over time (like humans!), observing regularity is key. Lastly, please pay attention to his mood; happy and energetic dogs are generally healthy! If you notice any signs that don’t seem typical for your dog, talk it over with your veterinarian.

How Can I Improve My Dog's Health?

In addition to providing all the love and belly rubs they need, as a responsible pet owner, keeping your dog healthy through basic pet care is vital.

Veterinarians suggest these six things to keep your pet in optimal health.

  1. Maintain a healthy weight for your pet.
  2. Provide the right amount of physical activity for your pet.
  3. Feed your pet a well-balanced and nutritious diet.
  4. Schedule your pet for a yearly well check with a veterinarian to ensure their health and detect potential issues.
  5. Safeguard your pet with the recommended vaccinations against diseases like distemper, parvo, panleukopenia, and rabies.
  6. Protect your pet from pests (parasites, fleas, ticks, heartworm, etc.) Consult with your veterinarian for the most suitable product for your pet. 
Is My Dog Healthy?

What Are the Most Common Health Problems in Dogs?

Dogs’ most common health problems are skin irritations, ear infections, urinary tract infections, vomiting, diarrhea, parasites, dental disease, obesity, arthritis, and poisoning.

Two health issues of concern that are on the rise are canine obesity and, believe it or not, dog anxiety.

  • Canine Obesity: According to recent statistics, nearly 60% of dogs are overweight or obese. Obesity in dogs is becoming increasingly pressing since it can lead to several health issues, such as certain types of cancer, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension. These conditions can be avoided if pet owners take the appropriate preventative measures. The best thing you can do to keep your dog from becoming overweight is to feed it a healthy diet and provide them with plenty of exercise. Avoid overfeeding your dog by ensuring you’re giving your pup an appropriate amount. That includes not over-indulging with treats! Even if you have the cutest dog on the planet, treats should only make up 10% of their diet.

 

  • Dog Anxiety: Dogs, just like humans, can experience anxiety in different levels and forms. It is a normal emotion that alerts the dog of something perceived as dangerous or unusual. Anxiety can affect all breeds of dogs but may vary in intensity from one dog to another. If left unchecked, your dog can develop an anxiety disorder that manifests into aggression, urination issues, destruction of property, or fear of leaving home. Anxiety should be taken seriously when it begins affecting the dog’s quality of life and daily routines. Symptoms of anxiety can range from trembling and excessive panting to isolation or showing signs of fear when hearing loud noises, thunderstorms, etc. Pet owners need to recognize when their dog may be exhibiting symptoms of anxiety and take steps to either lessen the effects of stress or treat it as required. 

Do Dogs Need Fitness?

With pet obesity on the rise, focusing on canine fitness is vital for our pets. Daily physical activity helps keep your pup strong, limber, and healthy by helping them to manage their weight and prevent the development of certain diseases that tend to come with age or inactivity, such as arthritis. Regular exercise can improve their physical, mental, and behavioral well-being.

Regular exercise is necessary for all dogs, regardless of age, breed, or size.

Is My Dog Healthy?

How much exercise does a dog need per day?

The amount, duration, or intensity of exercise needed will vary significantly by age, breed, size, and dog. As a starting point, research what is typical for the breed and monitor your dog’s behavior to determine if it’s too little or too much for its unique needs.

What is the best workout for a dog?

Again, this will vary per dog. Walking your dog daily is a good starting point. Providing your pet with opportunities for appropriate physical and mental stimulation is what’s important. There are many games and activities you can plan for your dog. However, including your dog in your daily exercise routine or beginning one that your dog can join in is an excellent way for you to bond and stay healthy!

How does exercise affect mental health?

Exercise provides mental stimulation and can reduce behavioral problems and improve mental health. It reduces anxiety and increases endorphins that give them a natural mood booster! Tired dogs exhibit better behavior and increased calmness, focus, and understanding. Regular exercise doesn’t only benefit your furry friends. Its physical and mental health benefits extend to a pet’s human too!

What is agility training?

Dog agility is a dog sport where a handler directs a dog while they race through an obstacle course, competing for the best time and accuracy. It is one of the fastest-growing dog sports and offers incredible exercise for dogs. Dogs rely on verbal and non-verbal cues from handlers to get through the course.

Does agility build confidence in dogs?

Participating in agility training and competitions can build confidence in your dog. Not all dogs require it, but agility training can help to socialize your dog to various environments. Some owners choose this type of training solely for the exposure it provides and the confidence-building benefit for their dogs. For example, some dogs fear sewage covers that they may encounter walking on a sidewalk in a city. Agility courses help to push a dog to overcome these kinds of fears through the different obstacles they face.

Is My Dog Healthy?

What Are the Signs of a Sick Dog?

Dog owners must be aware of signs of illness in their pets. The following are indicators that your dog may be unwell:

  • Significant shifts in behavior (heightened irritability)
  • Perceived or visible pain or lethargy
  • Persistent Vomiting
  • Changes in bowel movements or urination (persistent diarrhea, lack of urination, excessive urination)
  • Persistent coughing
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Excessive drinking

If any of these symptoms persist for longer than 24 hours, it is recommended that you take your dog to a veterinarian.

Maintaining Your Pet's Health

Every pet owner wants their beloved pooch to lead a long, healthy, and happy life. While understanding your pup’s health can be challenging, these tips will help you assess if they’re in peak condition.

If you need more clarification about your dog’s health, it’s always best to consult their veterinarian. Keeping our furry family members healthy is something every pet owner should strive for.

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ESA or PSA Certification?

The benefits of an Emotional Support Animal certification and a Psychiatric Service Dog certification are drastically different. Fortunately for you, American Service Pets’ network of active board certified doctors can help you find the right path to certification. To find out whether you need an ESA or PSD letter, take our easy, three-step Pet Owner Survey!

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