Whether you are adopting a dog from your local humane society or purchasing a puppy from a breeder, you'll want to be sure that your new pet is healthy. There are several things you can do to ensure that the pooch you pick is in good physical and mental health.
- Look for discharge from the eyes and nose. A thick, greenish discharge from a dog's eyes or nose can be a symptom of several illnesses. If the dog has already been examined by a veterinarian and is undergoing treatment for something easily cured, you may want to consider taking him home and finishing out his treatment. If the breeder or shelter staff is unsure as to the cause of these symptoms, be cautious about taking him home.
Check out a dog's coat and skin thoroughly. A healthy dog should have a shiny coat with no signs of fleas or hair loss. Fleas are easily treatable, but not something you want to bring home with you. Hair loss can have a number of causes including ringworm, mange, a thyroid condition and allergies. Some of these conditions are easy to treat, but others require lengthy treatments or daily medication for the duration of a dog's life. Still others are communicable to people. If you are not able to undertake this type of responsibility, you may want to pass on bringing a dog with these symptoms home.
Examine the dog's stool. Some parasites are clearly visible in a dog's stool. Bloody or loose stool can also be a symptom of intestinal parasites or another medical condition. Parasites can be taken care of fairly easily with deworming medications, but other issues may not be dealt with as simply.
Listen for a dry, hacking cough. This cough, referred to as kennel cough, is common among shelter dogs and dogs kenneled with other dogs. It can be cleared up with a course of antibiotics. If left untreated, kennel cough can become more serious.
Look for a dog who is alert and interested in playing with you. If a dog is lethargic or unresponsive, there may be an underlying medical condition. Many of the conditions that cause lethargy in dogs are serious illnesses.
Ask the breeder or shelter staff about the dog's temperament. There are some behavioral issues that an inexperienced dog owner should not try to take on. If a dog has shown signs of aggression or is known to have serious separation anxiety, you may want to pass up this pet.
Look at the dog's medical records. Even young puppies should have some vaccinations before going home with you. Make sure that any dog or puppy you are considering bringing home is has been kept up-to-date on routine vaccinations and heartworm preventative. Talk to your vet about what the vaccination schedule should look like.
Find out about health guarantees. One of the first stops you make with a new pet is at your veterinarian's office for a complete physical. Find out before purchasing or adopting a dog what your options are if the dog has a condition requiring medical attention.
Bringing home a new dog or puppy means lots of changes in your routine. Every new pet owner should expect a period of adjustment. Things will go much more smoothly if the dog you choose is healthy. While no one can guarantee with complete certainty that your pet won't have any medical concerns, taking the above precautions can help.