“Health is more than the absence of disease. Health is a state of optimal well-being.”
This is a simple checklist to help you evaluate your pet’s health.
Maintaining a healthy weight is important for your pet’s long term health and can significantly extend their life. Keeping an ideal weight is a result of a balance between a healthy balance and exercise. Just like people, dogs and cats can become overweight because of excessive or inefficient calorie intake. Often the term ideal weight is used to refer to the optimal weight for a specific dog or cat, based on their breed, age, and overall build. Some tips to tell if your pet is the right weight:
- Touch: Put your hands on your pet’s ribs and spine. You should be able to feel their ribs below the surface of the skin. You should be able to feel a healthy layer of tissue over the ribs and around the spine. You pet may be underweight if their spine and ribs are significantly protruding. Your pet may be overweight if you cannot feel the outline of their ribs.
- Visual Inspection: You should visibly see a waist, when viewing you pet from above. Belling should be tucked up higher than the chest, when viewed from side. You pet may be underweight if ribs, hip bone or spine is highly visible. Your pet may be overweight if no waist is visible and belly is rounded when viewed from side.
The most common reason pets gain weight is because they are eating over-processed, grain-filled diets that are higher in sugars and end up consuming excessive or inefficient calories that get stored as fat. Many owners find that simply switching their pet to a raw diet made from whole foods, that’s easier and more natural for them to digest can help their pet return to and maintain their ideal weight. Because raw is so easy to digest, visible changes can become apparent in as little as two weeks. For more information about helping your pet lose weight, check out our Feeding Guide.
Coat and Skin
The health and appearance of the skin and coat is often a reflection of the internal health of your dog and cat. Many believe that your pet’s skin and coat really constitute an organ that performs many tasks vital to your pet’s survival, including maintaining body temperature and protecting from external infections. Many skin and coat issues are a manifestation of both internal health imbalances.
A healthy skin and coat should be shiny, soft and odour-free.
Here are some typical skin and coat conditions that are indicators of health issues, and tips for how to troubleshoot their cause:
- Dull or scaly coat
- Dry flaky skin, and “pet” odour
- Overly oily and smelly coat
- Sores or hotspots on skin
- Excessive scratching of same spot
Mouth, Teeth and Gums
Healthy gums are firm and pink, black or spotted, just like the dog’s skin. Healthy Teeth should be white and smooth. In nature, dogs chew bones, which clean their teeth and strengthen their jaw muscles. In addition, their mouths are naturally acidic, which deters any bacteria overgrowth. Feeding a commercial dry diet can often change the pH levels in their mouth and digestive tract, making your pet more susceptible to unfriendly bacteria overgrowth.
While certain commercial foods and treats contain plaque-reducing ingredients, the grains in these products promote bacteria growth.
Healthy eyes are bright and shiny, with minimal tearing and discharge.
The skin inside your dog’s ears should be light pink and clean. There should be some brownish wax, but a large amount of wax or crust is abnormal. There should be no redness or swelling inside the ear.
Let’s face it! As pet owners, we spend a lot of time talking about poop! It gives us an insight into our pet’s inner workings – especially their digestive system. A healthy stool should be fairly firm and low in odour. A healthy stool should not be excessive in size – remember that the digestive system should be breaking down and absorbing nutrients out of the food and the excreted content is waste. If the waste is the same size as what went in, then how much is really going into the body?
Many pet guardians find that the size and smell of their pet’s stool decreases when they switch to a raw diet because more of the food is being digested.
One of Thunder’s favorite activities!Denise W.