Nobody knows your pet better than you. After all, you feed, bathe, play and snuggle with this beloved member of your family. You are the key to knowing whether your pet is healthy or not. Since animals do not speak the way we do, there are other ways they express how they’re feeling. And when in doubt, ask your vet.
Dr. Gary Weitzman, veterinarian, author and president of the San Diego Humane Society with more than 30 years of experience, shares the top five visual signs of health as well as additional key health tips in his recently released book with National Geographic, “Complete Guide to Pet Health, Behavior and Happiness.”
Knowing the energy level of your pet is key and one of the simplest things to assess. It’s all about what’s normal to your pet. Is your dog having trouble getting up in the morning when he’s usually alert or is your cat looking more lethargic than usual?
2. Skin and Coat Quality
When the skin isn’t getting the nutrition and circulation needed, health issues become visibly evident. After all, the skin is the body’s largest organ. It’s composed of proteins, lipids and fatty acids. Whether your pet has dry, flaky skin, overly oily coats or hair loss, your pet’s coat will tell a story of what’s going on.
3. Nail Strength
Related to coat quality in that it’s a sign of good or poor health. Nails that are dry, broken or flaking can indicate metabolic, nutritional or overall health issues. Overgrown nails will show lack of grooming or energy.
4. Eye Brightness
The gleam in the eye, the spark of excitement our pets normally show is something we usually take for granted, until it’s no longer there. Dullness, sagging eyelids and gaze avoidance are all indicators that your pet is not feeling well.
5. Nose “Luster”
Your dog’s nose is self-lubricating with thousands of mucus-producing cells. They lick it hundreds of times per day to moisten it; otherwise, it itches. They also lick it when they are nervous. The nose can indicate the health of your pet. A healthy nose is smooth, shiny and relatively dry. Don’t worry too much if the nose is warm; it often just means your pet is warm. If the nose is dull, overly dry or rough, it usually indicates your dog isn’t well either because he’s not feeling well enough to lick it or the normal self-moisturizing function is off.