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How Healthy is Your Dog?

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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How healthy is your dog? How do you know?

What does a healthy dog look like? A healthy dog can be described as having bright shiny eyes, a healthy shiny hair coat, good appetite, is able to maintain an ideal body weight, is playful and generally seems "happy".

However, dogs can acquire a variety of diseases and conditions. One problem about dogs that are not healthy is that they are very good at hiding their illness just by their nature of survival. They want to appear healthy so they are less vulnerable to predators.

Initial signs and symptoms of dog illness can be subtle and you may have to look closely to see the first clues. Advanced symptoms are generally more obvious.

Many signs of disease are non-specific, suggesting they can be common for many different diseases. Let's look at some common non-specific signs of illness in dogs that should worry you and prompt veterinary care and attention:

  • Lack of appetite – Anorexia is often one of the first signs of illness in dogs. It can be difficult to determine if you feed your dog dry food only and keep the bowl full. For this reason, some veterinarians recommended feeding dogs a scheduled feeding at the same time every day so that you accurately assess their appetite.

  • Less active - Dogs that don't feel well are often less active. Many times this "less active" sign is mistaken for "getting older". If your dog is less active, the safest thing to do is have your vet check your dog out.

  • Weakness - Weakness can be displayed as either being "less active", having a lethargic appearance, or by displaying a loss of balance and coordination. All of these are potentially serious signs and should prompt immediate evaluation by your veterinarian.

  • Lethargy – Lethargy is a general lack of interest in the environment. It is a very common symptom and can be an early or late sign of illness depending on the severity.

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