Signs of a Healthy Dog - Ultimate Guide

Updated June 20, 2020
a dog resting on rocks

As a responsible dog owner, keeping your dog healthy, and taking proper care is very essential. There are some general signs of a healthy dog that are applicable for Every breed of dogs. But, some signs are breed-specific and largely depend on the individual variation of your dog. In this article, we are going to focus on some of the most common and general signs of a healthy dog that apply to any kind of dog.

A healthy dog is easy to identify by the looks and behaviors while also considering the individual variation, breed, and age. Once you get to know your dog properly, you should have no difficulty in judging if all is well. 

Bright and alert eyes, a glossy and healthy coat, and a cold, wet nose may be the general signs of good health in a dog, but these are not invariable. A dog’s bright eyes may dim with age, even if he stays perfectly fit; his coat will not look shiny if it is wire-haired; and a healthy dog can have a warm, dry nose as well. Perhaps more useful fitness indicators are your dog’s body shape and weight, which should stay consistent: strange swellings, sudden loss of weight, and abdominal bloating are all possible early health warnings. Monitor weight gain and growth in a young dog by weighing him weekly and plotting the weight on a graph; back up this data by taking regular photographs as he matures. Changes in health are also revealed in a dog’s feces and elimination habits, which can be markedly different from one dog to another. As you clean up after your dog, it will become obvious what is normal for him in terms of frequency, consistency, and color.

General Signs of A Healthy Dog

  1. Looks bright and alert
  2. Interacts readily with family and other pets
  3. Moves freely, without stiffness
  4. Eager to get exercise
  5. Not unduly tired by exercise
  6. Interested in food
  7. Drinks expected amount of water
  8. Urinates and defecates in a normal pattern

Now, we will have a look on the detailed way of checking the signs of good health. You may consider checking your dog's various body parts frequently according to your convenience.


There should be no excessive tear production or sticky discharge. A little “sleep” is normal—simply wipe it away, using a damp cotton ball for each eye. Gently lower the bottom eyelids to check that the lining and the white around the irises are not inflamed and red.


Your dog should not find it painful to have his ears touched. There should be no swelling of the flaps, and the ears should be clean as far down as you can see and pleasant smelling.


Your dog should accept you looking in his mouth and brushing his teeth. Raise the upper lips to reveal the outer surfaces of the teeth. Ideally, these should be white, but light brown tartar may accumulate. The gums should be moist and pale pink, and the breath smell pleasant.


Train your dog from a young age to allow his paws to be lifted up and examined. Look between the toes for irritability or sensitivity. Check for swelling and broken or overly long nails; when fully weight-bearing the nails should just touch the ground.


Look under the tail at the anus for soiling and swelling, and in a female, check the vulva for swelling and discharges. Examine the penis of a male dog for injuries and excessive discharge or bleeding from the tip.

To make your home checks convenient and enjoyable for your dog,  you may consider the following instructions as well.

  • Make the experience positive
  • Give treats
  • Praise your dog
  • Handle each body part from ears to tail with care
  • End with lots of love

The contents of this article is based on and influenced by this book on dog care.

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