Basic Health Check Dog

The health and well-being of our four-legged friends are one of the most essential things in life for dog owners. A health check for dogs should therefore occur regularly – not only several times a year at the vet, but also weekly at home.

If you keep an eye on the health of your furry friend yourself, you can recognize possible illnesses or health problems more quickly and treat them accordingly. In addition, regular examinations at home strengthen the bond between man and dog.

Below you will find a selection of the most important points you should include in the health check for dogs. You can do this, for example, weekly or every two weeks.

Take a Look at Your Dog’s Eyes and Ears

Take a look at the dog’s eyes. If they are red, very cloudy or watery, a trip to the vet is advisable to rule out diseases such as conjunctivitis or treat them if necessary.

The ears are also part of the health check for dogs. Healthy dog ears are pink and neither red nor bright pink. They should be clean and not have a strong odor. Dark earwax may indicate an infection or ear mite infestation.

When cleaning your four-legged friend’s ears, do not use cotton swabs but a clean, dry handkerchief or cotton pad and never go deeper into the ear than you can see inside – they are very sensitive inside!

  • Eyes Should Be Clear And Shiny
    Look for any yellow discharge which is a sign of infection.  Any murky blotches are an indication of cataracts or blindness.  The eyes should be well lubricated, like a shiny marble.  Pay attention to dogs with protruding eyes which are prone to dry eye disease.
  • Ears Should Be Dry And Light Pink Inside
    Red/overly waxy/brown could be a sign of infection. A Foul smell coming from the ear cavities is a dead giveaway of either an infection or parasite infestation.  This should be looked at straight away as leaving it will only make it worse.

Examine your Dog’s Teeth and Gums

Tooth or gum disease is one of the most common ailments in dogs. As with us humans, regular dental care is, therefore, critical. In addition to regular cleaning, check that the gums are free of lesions and have healthy pink coloration.

Yellowish-white tooth discoloration indicates plaque, which can develop into tartar if not removed. Also, look for bloody, irritated or discolored gums and loose teeth. If you are already checking the oral cavity, you should also consider whether your four-legged friend has bad breath.

  • Teeth Should Be White With No Tartar Or Blood
    When your dog gets a build-up of tartar it is the first step of tooth decay.  What happens after this is rotten teeth and gum disease.  Your dog should have nice white pearly teeth with no build-up close to the gums and there should be no smell or bloody discharge coming from the gums.
  • Look For Any Loose Teeth
    Wiggle your dog’s teeth lightly.  Check that there are no loose teeth that will need removing.  Smell their breath.  A stinky breath is a good indication of a problem that requires attention.
Dog teeth being examined

The Dog’s Coat and Skin are Important Indicators of Disease

Get an overall impression of the dog’s coat. The coat of a healthy animal is shiny and not dull in most dog breeds. Carefully part the coat in various places, such as the head and spine, and look for injuries, wounds, scabs, dandruff, swelling, redness or parasites that may need to be treated.

Check That The Coat of your Dog Is Shiny And Free Of Dandruff, Ticks And Fleas or Lice!

Tip: When it comes to coat care, ask your veterinarian or breeder. Special brushes and combs for coat and skin care are available at specialty stores.

Important: Do not bathe your four-legged friend too often and only when it is very dirty, as this can destroy the natural protective layer of the skin. The rule is: as often as necessary, as rarely as possible.

Examine Paws and Claws

The paws and claws are also part of the health check for dogs. Claws, especially the so-called wolf or dewclaw, must be trimmed regularly. Otherwise, they can grow in and cause pain.

Injuries, swelling and redness are a sign of a paw injury. Especially in winter, a dog’s paws are exposed to stress from ice and grit and should be examined particularly thoroughly.

  • Check Nails On The Front Legs
    Make sure there are no cracked nails.  Check for nails that are too long that need clipping.  Dewclaws are the nails a little bit higher up on the paw and some dogs have them while some don’t. 

    They don’t get to touch off the ground and so never get a chance to naturally grind down.  Check them regularly so they don’t curl into the paw pad and cause pain and infection.
  • Check Feet And Legs For Cuts, Lumps Or Bumps
    Also, check between the paw pads that there are no foreign objects stuck, or for any cuts from glass or stones.  Some of the hairier breeds might have lots of hair under the paws that get caked up in mud and form ridges that are painful to walk on. 

    You can cut that out carefully with a scissor, making sure you don’t accidentally cut into the pad.
cutting dog claws with a nail clipper

Take a Look at Your Dog’s Nose

Put the tip of your finger on the nose and feel around. Your finger should become somewhat wet if there is sufficient moisture to be released. The state of a Dog’s health can often be determined by looking at the nose.

If the nose of your dog is dry and cracked, this could be an indication of hyperkeratosis, which is more of an aesthetic issue than a potentially fatal one. What could be causing my dog’s runny nose? This is a more significant issue that could have been brought on by a number of different things.

Let us have a quick look: Allergies, sinus, respiratory disease, periodontal disease, nasal tumors, and lodged foreign objects are all aggravators that can cause a runny nose in a dog.  If it lasts for more than a few hours, make an appointment with your pet care provider.

The Nose of a Dog Should Be Moist, Not Too Dry Or Runny.

Checking your Dog’s Weight

Check regularly if your dog is at his ideal weight or if he is overweight or underweight. A proven test: touch your dog with both hands at the waist and feel your way from there to the back two ribs.

The ribs should be palpable but also not particularly prominent. If they are not noticeable, talk to your veterinarian about diet – if they are noticeably protruding, about treating underweight.

A Touch Over The Back. Spine And Ribs Should Not Be Sticking Through The Skin.

Dog weight check

Examine your Dog’s Feces Regularly for Parasites

As dog people know, our four-legged partners are constantly exploring with their snouts. In the process, they often come into contact with parasites, bacteria and sometimes viruses that lead to diseases of the gastrointestinal tract.

What is the cause of the complaints that can be found in many cases with a fecal sample examination.

For symptoms such as:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Sudden weight loss

a fecal sample should be taken to the veterinarian to rule out Endoparasites such as worms and giardia or severe infections of the intestinal tract.

Basic laboratory testing of dog feces provides an overview of

  • Intestinal parasites
  • bacteria and fungi
  • Viruses

Special, more advanced fecal examinations include

  • Food utilization
  • Pancreatic enzymes
  • Bile acid
  • protein loss in the intestine
  • inflammatory changes in the intestine
  • Imbalances in the intestinal microbiome
Helminthiasis Toxocara canis (also known as dog roundworm) or parasitic worms from little dog on white background, Pet health care concept
Helminthiasis Toxocara canis – also known as dog roundworm or parasitic worms

Lift Your Dog’s Tail And Make Sure The Hair Is Not In The Way Of Important Business

Check the private area; keep it as hair-free as possible, if there is no hair then nothing can get stuck and eventually block them from going toilet. 

Smells may be an indication of problems especially in females, it may be a sign of pyometra, which is an infection of the womb and can cause death if left. Another bad smell can be of anal glands that need to be emptied.  In either case, don’t ignore bad smells!

Health Check for Dogs: More Abnormalities

Also, check the dog’s body for lumps or nodules that could indicate tumors. Use both hands to feel your way from the head towards the chin and then move to the front legs, shoulders, back and along the hips to the back legs.

Make Sure There Are No Lumps Or Bumps On The Head And Neck Areas of your Dog!

Also, lift the tail for the health check and see if the anus is smeared or has any abnormalities such as swelling, injury or redness. This could indicate parasite infestation or anal gland inflammation, among other things – going to the vet is then the next step.

In general, you should pay attention to crookedness, movement disorders and behavioral abnormalities such as aggression, restlessness, listlessness and increased need for rest and have this examined by the veterinarian.

Read also: What to Expect When Your Dog Has Eaten a Tick: Consequences Explained


Marco Heitner

Hello, my Name is Marco. My family has had pets since I can remember. Today we have a large aquarium and, since recently, a four-month old Labrador. I am the owner of this website, and it is my great pleasure to provide helpful knowledge about pets. Our team is constantly working hard to publish well-researched reports here.


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