If your dog’s nose is cold and wet then he is healthy. Believe it? Better not. It’s an old wives’ tale and could get your dog into trouble. Here are a few things to look for when deciding if you should take your dog to the veterinarian or not.
Look in his mouth and take a look at his teeth. Are these teeth that you would want in your mouth? Look for clean, white teeth with little to no tartar or calculi. Calculi is the hard material that results when too much tartar is present and it hardens into a kind of stone-like material. Are the gums nice and light pink or are they the bright red of gingivitis? Is there any white pus coming out from the gum line? Tartar, calculi, gingivitis and pus all add up to dental disease and you should take your friend to his veterinarian.
The gums can reveal more than merely dental disease. Are the gums pale? Bright red? Either of these can be an indicator of illness. I would say that pale, gray or white coloration is the most serious. If your dog is acting strangely and his gums are white, you need to get to your veterinarian immediately.
The eyes should be clear or slightly opaque in the case of some older dogs. The white part of the eye should have blood vessels that are visible but not overly so. The pink part of the eye should be just that: pink, not red and again, especially not pale. If you see a pus-like discharge it could mean conjunctivitis (pink eye) or something worse so it is a good idea to get to a vet.
The ears should also be pink with little to no waxy material. If there is a large amount of discharge (which can be black, gray, white or any combination), redness, scratching or if he is shaking his head all the time there is a good chance he has an ear infection and should be seen my his doctor. Lots of people initially think their pet has ear mites but in 95% of the cases it is an ear infection and there are no mites involved.
Is your friend’s coat glossy and clean or is it patchy and dirty? If the haircoat is not looking as good as it used to it could be a sign of many things including fleas, hypothyroidism, allergies and even some systemic illnesses such as Cushing ’s disease . Lift his tail and take a look. Admittedly, this isn’t glamorous but lots of things can hide there including tumors, inflamed and ruptured anal glands and parasites. Do this at least once a month.
Finally, the most common symptom of several diseases is drinking a lot of water and having to urinate frequently. This can be a sign of diabetes and kidney disease. If you think your buddy is going outside more frequently than he used to, get him to his vet. You won’t regret it.