Dog Health Care

Dog health care generally is organized into diseases and care. Each of these is explored on this site and on our sister sites, the Dog Health Guide and the Dog Health Handbook. You can also enter a question for our Veterinarian on either of these sites which will be answered for free. Note that we answer questions on a first come, first served basis. If you need an immediate answer we suggest using this online veterinary service that has Vets available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

key to dog health

One part of dog health is finding problems before they become serious and harder to treat. Start by rubbing and checking the dog’s body for any obvious problem signs such as skin lesions, lumps and bumps. (source: Washington State University)

To get dog health information on the most common problems, here are some quick links. If you don’t see what you need, just enter the question in the search box on the right side of this page.

Dog Diseases and Conditions

Dog Care


Examining Your Dog at Home

One important part of dog health care is to catch problems early before they become difficult to diagnose and treat. To keep issues from developing start with these easy to follow steps:

  1. Check the Dog’s Body: Start at the right paw of the give your dog a gentle body rub. When touching or palpitating the body, look for:
    – Skin scabs or flakes: These types of signs are indications of a skin problem, allergies or a dog skin parasite.
    – Dog skin lumps and bumps: A skin lump can indicate anything from something that occurs with age and is not of concern to conditions that need to be treated.
    – The Back Bone or Vertebrae: Check the backbone and see if there is anything out of the ordinary. Rapid weight gain or loss will change your ability to see or touch the bone and could indicate a problem.
  2. Respiratory health and breathing: Breathing should never appear to be labored (except when panting on a hot day or after exercise).
  3. Check Pulse: You can check a dog’s heartbeat by checking the pulse. This is done by placing your hand on the chest at the left elbow. To check a dogs pulse count beats in a 15 second period and multiply this number by 4. Dogs have a pulse rate between 60 and 160 beats (puppies are faster).
  4. Ear Examination: Ears should be clear, pink and free of unusual discharge.

    healthy dog ear

    A healthy dog ear should be pink and clear of unusual discharge (source: Washington State University)

  5. Eye Examination: Same for eyes. Check to make sure they look clear with no redness or unusual discharge.
  6. Check mouth: In a dog the mouth should include pink gums (except if your dog has normal brown/black gums). Dog breath should also not be unusually bad.

How Veterinarians Reach a Dog Health Diagnosis

All veterinarians start with a health history. This will include both the history of the patient and the history of the parents. Quality kennel’s will keep track of a dog’s lineage in order to help identify and prevent future genetically transmitted health problems. The history will also help the veterinarian identify the exact time the illness started and how the symptoms developed. The reason why this is important is that symptoms are classified as being primary and secondary. A primary symptoms is a direct result of the ailment, such as a skin infection. A secondary symptoms results because of the illness. In the case of a dog skin infection, scratching could cause additional skin trauma, causing skin ulceration that is a result of the dog’s scratching, not the infection.

Next a veterinarian will conduct a physical examination. A vet will palpitate or feel the body too look for any symptoms that aren’t visible. Symptoms that are visible usually indicate the cause. For example, dog skin problems are the most common reason for a visit to the veterinarian. A local problem, or a skin issue in only one area of the body indicates some type of infection. Dog flea problems are in areas that aren’t easy reached by the dog such as the back and above the tail. If a skin issue is seen all over a dog. then problems that affect the entire dog, such as an inhalant allergy, food allergy or hormonal disease are suspected.

Like a human physical, lab tests are used starting with simple low cost screening tests, such as urine and blood tests. If a diagnosis is not identified, then additional tests are warranted.



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