Everyone wants to have a healthy pet and the real key to dog health is to be aware and monitor your furry friend daily:
Skin - Healthy skin is supple and smooth, without white flakes, red areas, growths or scabs. The skin will be pale pink to brown or black in color, depending on the breed. Speckled skin is common, whether the dog has a spotted or solid coat. Be sure to check your dog for fleas, ticks, lice, or other external parasites. To do this, blow gently on your dog's stomach or ruffle the hair backward in a few places to see if any small specks run away or if ticks are clinging to the skin. The black dirt on your dog's skin or bedding may be a sign of flea poop.
Coat - A healthy coat, whether short or long, is lustrous and supple. There should be no bald areas, dandruff or excessive oiliness to the coat.
Eyes - Healthy eyes will be bright and shiny and while mucus and watery tears are normal, they should be minimal and clear in color. The pink lining of the eyelids should not be inflamed, swollen, or have a yellow discharge. Sometimes you can see your dog's third eyelid, a light membrane, at the inside corner of an eye. It may slowly come up to cover his eye as he goes to sleep. The whites of your dog's eyes should not be yellowish. Eyelashes should not rub the eyeball.
Ears - The skin inside your dog's ears should be clean and a light pink in color. There might be some yellow or brownish wax, but a large amount of wax or crust is not normal. There should not be redness or swelling inside the ear, and your dog shouldn't scratch his ears or shake his head habitually. Dogs with long, hairy ears, such as Maltese, need additional attention to keep the inside of the ears dry.
Nose - A dog's nose is usually cool and moist. It can be black, pink, or the same color as the coat, depending on the breed. Discharge from the nose should be clear, never yellowish, thick, bubbly, or bad smelling. A cool, wet nose does not necessarily mean the dog is healthy, and a dry, warm nose doesn't necessarily mean he's sick. Taking his temperature is a better indication of illness.
Mouth, Teeth and Gums - Healthy gums are firm and pink, black, or spotted, just like the dog's skin. Young dogs have smooth white teeth that tend to darken with age. Puppies have 23 baby teeth and adults have around 42 permanent teeth, depending on the breed. As adult teeth come in, they push baby teeth out of the mouth.
To check your dog's mouth, talk to him gently, then put your hand over the muzzle and lift up the sides of his mouth. Check that adult teeth are coming in as they should, and not being crowded by baby teeth. Make sure the gums are healthy and the breath does not have a bad odor. Look for soft white material or hard white, yellow, or brown material. This is plaque or tartar and should be brushed or wiped away.
Mouth infections can lead to serious problems in the gums and other parts of the body, including the heart, so it's important to give your dog's teeth and mouth special attention.
Temperature - A dog's normal temperature is 101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit (38.3 to 39.2 degrees Celcius). To take your dog's temperature, you'll need a rectal thermometer. Put some petroleum jelly on the bulb of the thermometer. Ask someone to hold your dog's head while you lift his tail and insert the thermometer about an inch or so into the rectum. Do not let go of the thermometer. Hold it in until the temperature is read (about 3 minutes for a mercury thermometer), and then remove gently.
Heartbeat and Pulse - Because dogs come in a wide range of sizes, their heartbeats vary. A normal heart beats from 50 to 130 times a minute in a resting dog. Puppies and small dogs have faster speeds, and large dogs in top condition have slower heartbeats. To check your dog's heartbeat, place your fingers over the left side of the chest, where you can feel the strongest beat. To check the pulse, should be the same speed as the heartbeat, press gently on the inside of the top of the hind leg. There is an artery there and the skin is thin, so it's easy to feel the pulse.
Elimination - Urine is a good indicator of a dog's health, and should be clear yellow. Most adult dogs have one or two bowel movements a day. Stools should be brown and firm. Runny, watery, or bloody stools, straining, or too much or too little urination warrant a call to the veterinarian.
Weight - A healthy dog's weight is the result of the balance between diet and exercise. If he is getting enough nutritious food and exercise but still seems over or underweight, he may have a health problem. Don't let your dog get fat by giving him too many between meal snacks and obese dogs often develop serious health problems. The best way to tell if your dog is overweight is to feel his rib cage area. You should be able to feel the ribs below the surface of the skin without much padding.