Most reputable breeders will offer a health guarantee on their puppies, but
before you buy your new puppy you can give him the once over yourself. This
should not be instead of taking him to the veterinarian. It is recommended
that after you bring him home take him to your local veterinarian within the
first 72 hours for a more complete exam.
Nose should be cool and moist and not running. Squeeze the nostrils to see
if there is mucus present. If there is a nasal discharge or frequent sneezing
this may be a sign of a respiratory tract infection.
Check the teeth and gums. Most breeds have a scissor bite which is when the
upper incisors tightly overlap the lower. Gums should be pink and healthy
looking. Pale gums indicate anemia. He should have clean smelling puppy breath.
Check the back of the throat, enlarged tonsils can mean tonsillitis. Pinch
the windpipe gently. This should not elicit a coughing spasm. If it does the
puppy may have bronchitis.
Feel the top of the head for the soft spot. If present the fontanel is open.
In Toy breeds a large dome, sunken eyes and open fontanel may suggest hydrocephalus.
Ears and Eyes:
Eyes should look straight ahead and not deviate to the side. If tear staining
is present on the muzzle look for eyelids that are rolled in or out, extra
eyelashes or conjunctivitis. White spots on the surface of the eye could be
scars from prior injuries or infections. Ears should stand correctly for the
breed. Tips should be healthy and well furred. Crusty tips with bare spots
suggest sarcoptic mange. Ear canal should be clean, wax free and sweet smelling.
A buildup of wax or a rancid odor may be caused by ear mites. Head shaking
and tenderness about the ear indicates an infection of the ear canal.
Feel the chest to see if the heart seems especially vibrant. Puppies should
breathe in and out without effort. A flat chest, when accompanied by trouble
breathing in may indicate an airway obstruction.
Coat and Skin:
Skin and hair around the anus should be clean and healthy looking. Signs of
irritation such as redness or hair loss indicate the possibility of worms,
chronic diarrhea or digestive disorder. Coat should be bright and shiny. Excess
scale or itching in the coat suggests mites, fleas or other parasites. Pull
apart the hair of the coat, skin should range from pink to black.
Legs should be straight and well formed. Structural faults include legs that
are bowed in or out. Gait should be free and smooth. A limp or faltering gait
may be the result of a sprain or hurt pad or hip dysplasia or other joint
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