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The Healthy Dog
Perform Your Own Exam

Early detection of health problems can save you and your dog from the pain and heartache that illness can cause. As you get to know your dog, you should become familiar with the normal body characteristics, daily habits and personality of your dog.

This knowledge will help you to be aware of any changes that occur. Listed below are things you can monitor in your dog, between your dog's regular veterinary examinations. If you find anything abnormal, call us as soon as possible to schedule a thorough exam.


Should be clear and bright. Redness, swelling, or discharge, are sings of a problem. Eyelids should be smooth.


Inside of ears should be light pink. A small amount of earwax is normal, but a yellow or brown waxy discharge is not. Redness, swelling or foul odors are signs of infections. Head shaking and ear scratching can be your dog's way of telling you there is something wrong.


Clear, watery nasal secretion is normal. Thick, colored or bloody discharge is not.


Teeth should be free of yellow-brown tartar build up. Gums should be light pink. Bad breath, excessive drooling, inflamed or bleeding gums, and loose or missing teeth are an indication of infection. White or blue gums are indications of more serious internal problems.


Should be even and unlabored. Prolonged sneezing, coughing or shortness of breath is not normal.

Digestive System

Anal area should be clean and free of discharge. Prolonged vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, excessive thirst, frequent urination, or blood in urine or stool are signs of possible health problems.


Check entire head, body and legs for lumps and bumps under the skin. Watch feet for signs of injury.

Skin and Coat

Coat should be glossy, but not too oily. A dry dull coat, excessive hair loss or odor from the skin can be a sign of incorrect diet or illness. Skin should be free of parasites, redness, sores and scabs. Excessive scratching, biting or licking of skin or hair coat can signal a problem.


Your dog should not have excessive body fat. You should be able to feel your dog's ribs, but they should not be protruding or be highly visible. Watch for changes in appetite (increase or decrease) and sudden changes in weight (gain or loss)