5 Signs You Have a Healthy Dog

If a goofy grin after a game of fetch is any indication, you’ve definitely got a happy dog.

But how’s his or her health these days?

There are a few good indicators that your buddy is living his best, healthy life, and we asked Dr. Mark Verdino, Senior Vice President and Chief of Veterinary Staff at North Shore Animal League America, to share them with us.

First and foremost, the amount of extra weight your dog is carrying is definitely a factor. “Unfortunately, most owners do not think that their pets are overweight, even when they are,” according to Verdino.

If you suspect your pet is overweight, head to a vet to check things out — and read on for more signs of good canine health.

1. A healthy weight. “Over 50 percent of dogs and cats are overweight or obese, and their owners are generally unaware,” says Verdino. “Owners should be able to easily feel their pets ribs by running their fingers along their pet’s sides. Seeing the ribs means they are too thin, while not feeling them means they are too fat.”

2. Normal digestive signs. If your dog has a good appetite, isn’t vomiting, and has visibly normal stool, these are all good signs. “Poor appetite and weight loss can be one of the earliest signs of serious illness, especially if goes on for longer than a day or two,” Verdino says.

3. A healthy coat. If your pup is frequently lauded for his or her gorgeous fur, that’s more than just good for their ego. “A healthy, shiny coat is indicative of good health. In addition to skin diseases, a poor coat, fur loss, or unhealthy skin could be indicative of an underlying systemic illness,” he says.

4. No oral odor. Is your dog’s breath simply unbearable? It could be a sign of something. “Foul breath is often one of the first things pet owners notice,” Verdino says. “It could indicate dental disease, or sometimes problems with the GI tract or even kidneys.”

5. Good activity level with no lameness or exercise intolerance. If Wonder Woman or Super Dog are suitable nicknames for your pooch, that’s a good indicator that they are on the right track. “A healthy animal should be active and sound,” Verdino explains. “Any reluctance to move or lameness may indicate illness or injury.”


For more pet care resources, visit North Shore Animal League America’s website. 


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Amy Jamieson

A former senior editor for People.com, Amy launched People Pets for People magazine in 2008. Now she writes about pets, lifestyle and more from her bucolic saltbox in Collinsville, Connecticut, usually with a cat in her lap and a dog at her feet.

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