Do you ever wonder how your dog is doing? As a dog owner, it is well established that your responsibility is to care for your canine friend’s physical health, but one can not avoid the mental well-being of dogs. It is normal to wonder now and then if the dog is happy and healthy with the home environment you have provided to it. A complete well-being assessment will require you to look for physical health, as well as for any psychological problems, including boredom and frustration. You can keep a check on whether your dog is truly content and in tip-top shape with regular check-ups.
Mental Well Being Assessment
Step one is to get to know your dog better what is defines as normal in its life. Each dog is different; hence their lifestyle, preference, and definition of being content are different. To assess its mental state, you have to find out some basic things about your dog, like how far it likes to walk? How it reacts when you come home from work? Temperament- sweet or grumpy? Water intake, stool, bowel movements. What is the condition of its ears, and what its breath smells like?
If you know all of these things about your pooch like the back of your hand, then you are perfect notice changes that could indicate the dog is unwell.
Step two requires you to assess your dog’s emotions by monitoring its behavior and body language. Dogs are capable of feeling all kinds of emotions, from grief, depression to boredom, and frustration. As an owner, you must be able to recognize these emotions. The first that gives away a behavior change is body language so that it something to look out for. An example of this would be if an outgoing dog who is always by the door enthusiastic to greet you becomes detached and does not leave its bed when you return home.
Body language is the cheat sheet for your dog’s emotions. Pay attention to how is it holding its ears or tail? Is it lower than normal? Is your dog shying away or trying to be dominating when approached? These are some signs that something may be wrong with your dog.
Boredom or frustration leads to destructive behavior like digging, whining, barking, and crying. What happens is, the dog tries to adopt a displacement activity, such as chewing the furniture, to be an outlet for his frustration.
Step three is to take a look at the dog’s facial expression. Emotions such as depression or boredom are reflected on some dog’s faces. If your dog’s charming eyes suddenly become doleful looking eyes then it is probably a sign that the dog is experiencing some emotional changes.
Step four, some physical changes could be symptomatic of mental stress or depression. Many dogs are self-aware in terms of keeping themselves hygienic. So, if your dog stops grooming itself, it can be a tell that something is wrong. Depressed or sick animals stop caring about their hygiene, and their coat condition drops, becoming harsh, stray, and unkempt.
Step five requires you to address possible factors that could be making your dog unhappy. Try to find out what can be causing distress in its life and then change the situation if you can. If you can’t change the situation completely you can help your dog cope up with it. You can comfort your dog through the change and try to make transitions as easy as possible.
Physical Health Assessment
Step one is to regularly groom and inspect the dog’s body. Apart from keeping the coat in good condition and tangle-free, it makes up an ideal time and situation to run a mini-physical exam on your dog at home. You can familiarise yourself with your healthy dog’s body so that if something changes, you will be able to pick up the signs of a problem early on.
Step two is to stand back and assess the overall actions of your dog. How is it standing or sitting? Does it look comfortable and relaxed, or is it having some difficulty getting up or laying down? Notice the breathing pattern and count the number of breaths it takes a minute in resting position. The normal number is 20 – 30 per minute. That has to be done at regular room temperature, not in a heated setting when the dog is panting to cool off. Exaggerated breathing movements are a sign of breathing difficulty. If so, you must get your dog checked out.
Step three is to assess your dog’s weight. Obesity is a real issue in dogs, and owners must keep a close check on their pet’s weight. Notice if your dog has gained or lost weight suddenly. Or has its appetite increased or decreased? Weight fluctuations can be a sign of some other health problem too. If you suspect anything it is worth getting weight change checked out by your vet.
Step five is about oral health. A healthy mouth means a healthy dog. Regularly examine your dog’s teeth by lifting its lip to see the teeth. Clean, healthy teeth are easy to spot- pink gums and white enamel. What can be problematic is brown-yellow tartar deposits on the surface of the teeth or inflamed/ bleeding gums (gingivitis). Examine the dog’s breath- a bad odor is a sign of infection. All these signs indicate that there might be something wrong, and dental attention is required.
If you would prefer, you can arrange regular vet visits for your dog for a check-up to rule out any medical problems and spot any illness in its early stage.
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