How to health check your dog

It’s important to regularly health check your dog to ensure they’re happy and healthy.

Here are some simple checks you can do to make sure they’re in tip-top condition.


Lift the ear flap and look inside, also gently feel behind and below the whole ear. Check your dog…

  • Is free from pain
  • Has no dirt and wax
  • Has no odour – a strong smell may indicate a problem


Gently lift up your dog’s lip folds to check their teeth and open the jaw to check in their mouth.

Check for tartar on the teeth, if your dog has lots they may need to go to the vets and have this removed as it can lead to gum disease and tooth decay. Please note: there is a direct link between poor oral health and heart disease. Also, a strong/offensive smell may indicate a problem, so it is best to get this checked with the vets.


Check your dog’s eyes are not red and there is no excessive discharge, monitor the eyes for any cloudiness this could be a sign of cataracts developing.


Check their nose for any excessive discharge, and also for any coughing or sneezing.


  • Check regularly for any lumps and bumps, note if any are changing size or shape.
  • Look for any bald patches, irritations, soreness or scabs.
  • Check for fleas and keep an eye on any excessive scratching or nibbling.
  • If your dog is long-haired, check for matts. If left, these can be uncomfortable and lead to infections.
  • Check for grass seeds, these often get missed in ears, between the toes and in dogs with long coats


Maintaining a healthy weight is important, most vets will run free weight clinics and would be more than happy to advise you if you are worried or just want to check your dog is the correct weight.

Obesity in the dog population is becoming more common, it’s a very serious health condition and it can have a considerable impact on longevity and quality of life. Have a look from the side and above. Your dog should have a slightly tucked-in waist and you should be able to feel the ribs quite easily, but they shouldn’t stick out.


Lift your dog’s feet up and gently check the pads.

Keep an eye on the length of their nails. If your dog mainly walks on grass or soft ground, you may need to cut them regularly. Ensure you don’t cut the ‘quick’ in the nails. This is a blood vessel and can hurt your dog if cut. Consider trimming between your dogs toes, this can help prevent the build-up of snow and ice in the winter and can reduce slipping on smooth floors.


Keep an eye on your dog’s faeces.

  • Loose faeces can be a sign they’re not well
  • Check there are no worms present and no blood
  • Long-haired dogs may need their back end washed and groomed regularly to prevent attracting flies

After you’ve given your dog a health check make sure you give them plenty of praise and treats. If at any point they’re not happy with being checked over, stop and try another time. Take a note of which bit they did not like being touched as this could be a sign of pain.

How to spot if your dog is unwell

Your dog may not always clearly let you know if they’re in pain or unwell. Look out for these subtle signs:

  • Lethargic
  • Restless
  • Not eating or eating less
  • Excessive drinking
  • Stiffness and lameness
  • Keeping to themselves, not wanting to be fussed
  • Out of the ordinary behaviour, e.g. growling when touched

If you have any concerns about the health of your dog, consult your vet immediately

Keep them vaccinated

Vaccinations should be given yearly by your vet and will protect your dog from potentially fatal diseases.

Worming your dog

Worming treatments should be given approximately every three months. A worm infestation can not only cause health problems to your dog but can, in some cases, spread to humans and has been known to cause blindness in children.

Dealing with fleas

Flea treatments should be given every couple of months. It is important to use good quality veterinary flea, and worming, treatments as some cheaper ones are not as effective. If you already have a flea infestation it is important you treat your house as well as the dog. The majority of fleas actually live in the household. Regular vacuuming and washing of the dogs bedding alongside house treatment will also help.

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