One simple, but very important way to care for your puppy, is to watch for changes in his appearance or behaviour that may indicate that he is sick. To do this, you need to become familiar with the following signs of normal health. You should also be familiar with your puppy’s usual behaviour. This will help you spot potential problems early. Also be sure to make regular vet visits as necessary.
Parts of the Body and Healthy Signs
Clear and bright. The whites of the eyes should have no red or yellow discolouration. If there is any discolouration, tearing, cloudiness, heavy discharge or other abnormal conditions, take your puppy to the veterinarian immediately. A slight buildup of mucus in the corners of the eyes is not unusual. This discharge can be cleared away with a cotton ball moistened with warm water. If there is a heavy discharge, consult your veterinarian.
Clean and free of discharge and odour. Check the ears at least once a week or more often for puppies who are more prone to ear problems (such as long-haired puppies or those with pendulous ears like Cocker Spaniels). Trim away excess hair which might prevent air from getting into his ears. If the ear canal is red, inflamed, hot, has a foul odour or is sensitive to your touch, consult your veterinarian, who may recommend weekly ear cleanings. If this recommendation is made, have the veterinarian also recommend a cleansing solution and ask for a demonstration on how to properly clean your puppy’s ears.
Pink, healthy gums with no redness or swelling at the tooth margins. The lips should be free of sores or growths. Teeth should be free of tartar buildup and there should be no bad breath.
Clean and wet without discharge or sores.
Body and Haircoat
Free of tumours, lumps, fleas and ticks. Check by running your hands over your puppy’s coat. A normal coat is thick, shiny and silky – without greasiness, dandruff, or bare patches.
Check for swollen joints. Inspect feet between the toes for excess hair or objects lodged there. Check the condition of his nails too.
Free of swelling and intestinal parasites. For instance, tapeworm segments look like particles of rice. Scooting along on the ground might be an attempt to relieve swollen anal glands. If you notice any of these conditions, see your veterinarian.