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Top 5 Visual Signs to Look for to Make Sure My Dog Is OK

Nobody knows your pet better than you. After all, you feed, bathe, play, and snuggle with your family member. You are the key to knowing whether your pet is healthy or not. Since animals can’t tell us how they’re feeling, there are other ways they tell us. When in doubt, ask your vet. In the meantime, here are the top five visual signs of health.

1. Energy

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, and 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. Dogs 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 is 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.



Gary Weitzman, D.V.M., is a veterinarian, author, and president of the San Diego Humane Society with more than 30 years of experience. These and other key health tips are in his newly released book with National Geographic, Complete Guide to Pet Health, Behavior and Happiness. For more information on Weitzman and his work with the San Diego Humane Society visit

Main article photo by: Lance Yamamoto