We all wish that our dogs could talk to us in our language and tell us how they are feeling inside. Unfortunately, this is not the case so we pet parents must become expert observers to and keep an eye out for early signs and symptoms of problematic health issues.
Feeding your pet a species-appropriate diet and monitoring their health is one of the most important things you can do for your pet, and could save you a lot of stress, time and money in the long run.
Here are the basics points on what to look out for in assessing your dog’s overall health.
A healthy dog exudes a love of life. Head up, eyes bright, and their tail wags with the anticipation of what may be around the corner. Your dog should be energetic, inquisitive, interested in new surroundings, and display enthusiasm for their favorite games or activities. That’s why we love our dog’s so much! If you notice a shift in your dog’s attitude that continues for more than three days and you’ve tried your best to cheer them up, this may be a sign of other health-related problems. Assess the other points in this article and decide if a trip to the vet is a good idea.
Generally speaking, a hungry dog is a healthy dog. Your dog should consume their meal within 10 minutes or less, or in the case of our two English Bulldogs and their tasty raw Furchild Meals, 30 seconds! One of the first signs of illness, especially when a dog has a gastrointestinal upset or a fever, is a decreased interest in food. If your dog refuses food altogether for over 24 hours, you should take them to a vet to get a second opinion.
There are exceptions to this rule. The diseases and disorders below cause an abnormal increase in appetite.
Your dog’s coat is one of the most obvious physical characteristics and is a great indicator of their overall health. Depending on your breed of dog the qualities can vary from long to short, double coat to single coat, coats that shed by themselves versus others that need to be trimmed. But regardless of the breed of dog and type of coat, a healthy dog should have a shiny, springy coat that is not greasy or smelly.
Sparse, dull, and dry coats are often an indicator of poor quality nutrition and a lack of good fats in their diet. One of the many benefits of feeding a high-quality, balanced raw diet is that your dog’s coat is lustrous, thick, and shiny again. This is one of the first things you’ll notice when you switch from kibble to raw.
Abnormal shedding can be a symptom of an underlying health problem. But how do you know if it’s normal shedding or something is wrong? Take note of the months which your dog normally sheds so that you know whether or not it coincides with a certain time of year. If you suspect they are shedding abnormally, give your dog a warm water bath and afterward comb out any remaining dead hairs so that you can examine the skin. If the skin appears healthy and you can see new shiny hairs beginning to grow, your dog may be going through their cycle of shedding. However, if the hair still seems dull, dry, broken, or isn’t growing back in an area that previously had hair examine the other points on the list and see if a vet visit is warranted.
Your dog’s ears should be clean on the inside with a shiny thin coating that is produced by the secretion of the protective waxy substance. Your dog’s ears should not have excessive wax, or a strong odor. If the ears have a persistent discharge that is dark brown or black, it may be a symptom of an ear infection, allergies, or hormonal imbalance. Feeding Furchild Meals for Dogs can significantly reduce or eliminate your pet’s ear problems. How? Because feeding your pet high-quality nutrition that is appropriate for their bodies will naturally improve their overall health, reduce inflammatory conditions, and strengthen their immune system, it works from the inside out. If you are still uncertain, you can take your dog to the vet and try to determine the root cause of symptoms.
A healthy dog has bright, clear, sparkly eyes. You should be able to see through the outermost surface of the eye, the cornea and you should be able to clearly see the patterns of the iris, the brown or blue ring that gives the eye its color. Your dog could benefit from regular home eye exams to look out for the following cases that may indicate a problem.
Excessive tearing is common for a lot of small dog and wrinkly breeds. Their tears can cause brownish-red stains and is considered ‘normal’ by many pet owners. However, it can also be a sign of allergies, especially if combined with itchy skin and gastrointestinal upset. It’s better to address eye-related problems sooner than later.
A change in diet to species-appropriate foods can reduce the amount of tears as well as the staining. If it’s not a serious health concern, we recommend using chemical-free, all-natural cleaning solutions like silver colloid and Wrinkle Balm to clean tear stains daily. Additionally, you can replace plastic food and water bowls with stainless steel that don’t harbor bacteria that irritate your pet’s face. You can add the following to your pet’s diet to decrease the amount of staining; milk thistle, dandelion, olive leaf, chlorophyll, colostrum, and probiotics.
Firstly your dog’s breath should not be offensive or foul-smelling. A healthy dog should have shiny gums that reach all the way to the base of the teeth. Colors of gums can vary from pink to brown and black gums. Ie. A Yellow Labrador will have pink gums and a Shar-Pei will have dark-colored gums. Irregardless of the breed, your dog’s teeth should be white, shiny, and have no buildup of brown or yellow material along the gum line. Poor oral hygiene can lead to a variety of health problems, some are life-threatening.
If you notice your pet has a build-up of plaque or tartar, it’s time to take action. Feed a species-appropriate raw diet that will not build up plaque and tartar, or cause a stinky breath. Additionally, you can offer raw bones, choose bones that are appropriate for your dog’s size and temperament, or an all-natural chew that will mimic the action of a toothbrush and cleans as well as freshen your dog’s breath. Alternatively, you can also brush your pet’s teeth yourself or arrange for oral exams and teeth cleaning by your vet, but this is costly and may require anesthesia.
Check your dog’s resting heart rate when you know it’s healthy so that you have a baseline to compare with when you suspect they may be ill. If your dog has a fever or is feeling pain, their heart rate will increase. This is just one indicator that there may be a potential health problem.
To determine your dog’s heart rate: Put your hand to his chest, count how many pulses you feel in 15 seconds and then multiply by 4 to get the number of beats per minute. How fast your dog’s heartbeats will depend upon its age and size. Young puppies have the most rapid heartbeats: 160 to 200 beats per minute at birth and up to 220 bpm when they are 2 weeks old. An adult dog’s heart beats 60 to 140 times per minute. Often larger breeds have slower the heart rate and small or toy breeds have heart rates as high as 180 bpm. Additionally when your dog exercises, the heart can beat at twice the normal rate, sometimes more.
The color, consistency, and frequency of your dog’s poops can tell you a lot about their overall health. Your dog’s poops should be firm and regular, not voluminous, stinky mounds of poop often the result of kibble diets. They can range from colors depending on the foods they are eating from brown, red, green, orange, beige, etc. If you notice your dog’s poops are black in color it may be a sign of gastrointestinal bleeding and chronic diarrhea (3 days or more) are a cause for concern and you should see a vet immediately. An occasional loose stool or an occasional stool with mucous is normal in dogs, especially if they are switching diets. Constipation is can occur if you’re dog has consumed too much raw bone content, but if they are continually straining to poop, have a vet check them. Learn more about the Scoop on Poop!
Take your dog’s temperature when they are healthy and when they are at rest as exercise can increase their temperature slightly. A healthy dog´s temperature ranges between 101 – 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit or 38.3 Celsius to 39.1 Celsius. The average temperature is 101.3 Fahrenheit or 38.5 Celsius. Young puppies can vary a little outside these ranges. If your dog’s temperature is outside of the normal range,
If a dog’s temperature reaches 103F / 39.4 Celsius or above is considered a dog fever. This could be the result of infections, vaccinations, toxins, and inflammation in the body. If the temperature reaches 106 F / 41.1 Celsius, it’s due to the hot and humid climate of the UAE. This elevated temperature is very serious is called hyperthermia or heat stroke. It can be fatal – see a vet immediately.
To determine your dog’s temperature, coat a thermometer with a lubricant such as coconut oil and gently insert the thermometer about one inch into your dog’s bum. Wait for results.
For us, this is the most important factor in improving and maintaining your dog’s health. More and more dogs around the world are becoming obese. Which is completely due to uneducated pet owners, plain and simple. Pet obesity leads to a wide variety of health problems that can seriously affect the quality and length of your dog’ life. The best way to avoid these issues is to regularly check your pet’s weight and feed them a raw species-appropriate diet that is not filled with preservatives and cheap fillers that bulk up your pet.
Hear what an expert on the subject has to say about Pet Obesity. Dr. Pete Wedderburn discusses – Are Your Overfeeding Your Dog or Cat?
Are you overfeeding your dog? How important is their weight to their health?
So how do you determine your Pet’s Ideal Weight?
As each dog is different there is no specific weight that can be said to be ideal for a particular breed or size of dog. A healthy dog has a slight waist and an abdomen that is tucked up higher than the level of their chest. It should be able to trot effortlessly without the skin and underlying fat rolling from side to side.
To tell if your dog is at the correct weight, practice the following weight management tests on a bi-weekly basis. Make adjustments to the dog’s diet as needed.
The Rib Check
Getting started, Your dog should be stood square and on an even surface.
Step 1 – Feel the ribs.
Spread your hands across the ribs. Ribs should be felt easily with a small amount of pressure. Ribs that can be felt with no pressure indicate the dog is underweight. Ribs that are difficult to feel with harder pressure indicate a dog that is overweight.
Step 2 – Feel and observe the waist.
The waist should be smaller than the width of the rib cage and should increase again by the pelvic area. If the waist is narrow with no hourglass shape the dog may be underweight. If the waist is the same width as the last ribs then the dog is overweight.
Step 3 – Feel the base of the tail.
Feel for the hip bones and the spine in this area. The area should have a smooth contour but the bones can be felt with a small amount of pressure. Protruding spine and hip bones may indicate the dog is underweight. Where the hip bones are difficult to feel, even under harder pressure, the dog is overweight. Overweight dogs may also develop a roll of fat at the base of the tail that can give the appearance of a dimple.
What about Furchild Raw Meals?
How can they help with achieving your pet’s ideal weight?
Our high-quality meals have been designed by experts to provide balanced nutrition based on a dog’s Ancestral Diet. To help you understand how much you should your feed pet our products we have created an interactive feeding guide.
Take charge of your dog’s health. In addition to providing them proper nutrition and TLC, assess their overall condition daily, and at least once a week give them a thorough examination, point by point.
FURCHILD is the first raw pet food company of its kind in the Middle East.
Discover the transformative power of our fresh, healthy, balanced meals, raw bones, all-natural chews, and premium handcrafted freeze-dried treats. Our Meals for Dogs and Meals for Cats are formulated by the world's leading pet food experts, approved by veterinarians, and are made of the highest quality ingredients.