I get asked this question a lot by first time puppy owners,

Before you bring your new puppy home, it is important to check your puppy’s overall health and condition. Taking the time to look over your puppy will help you to spot any possible health problems that could be developing, and you will be able to protect other animals in your home from parasites or illnesses. The well being of your puppy can be assessed by closely examining the puppy’s physical appearance and attitude.

Physical Appearance. The physical appearance of your puppy can offer a lot of information about the puppy’s health. Begin by looking at the puppy’s weight and hair coat quality. Healthy puppies should have their weight distributed evenly around the body. A puppy that has a swollen belly, but looks bony in the shoulders, hips and back, could be infected with parasitic worms. A healthy puppy will have a bright, shiny coat. If the coat looks dull, patchy or seems to be thinning in areas, this could indicate a nutritional deficiency or a parasitic skin infection.

Examine your puppy’s skin and ears to check for any flea, tick or ear mite infections. Fleas and ticks love to hide around the ears, neck, base of the tail, between the toes and around the groin area. Part the fur in these areas, and look at the condition of the skin; any redness, sores or black balls of flea dirt on the skin could indicate a flea infection. Ear mites cause intense itching and large amounts of dark wax to build up in the ears. If you notice that the ears are red, swollen and full of dark wax your puppy could have ear mites. Ear mites will also cause repeated head shaking and scratching around the ears.

Healthy puppies should have clean, clear, bright eyes. If the eyes seem hazy, cloudy or unfocused it could be an indication of an illness. The nasal passages and the airways should be clear as well. If you notice any discharge around the puppy’s eyes or nose, or if your puppy sounds congested, then your puppy could have a developing illness.

Puppy’s Attitude. Your puppy’s overall attitude will also tell you a lot about its health. If the puppy appears depressed, listless and lethargic, then it could be ill. Healthy puppies want to play and they will respond to touch and interaction with other people and pets. A healthy puppy is also curious about its environment and it will want to investigate and explore its surroundings.

If you notice any potential problems with your puppy, take your puppy straight to a veterinarian before you bring it home. Parasites, diseases and illnesses can drastically affect a puppy’s health in a short amount of time. The veterinarian will diagnose any potential illnesses or diseases that may be occurring, and the veterinarian will be able to thoroughly check the puppy for external and internal parasites. With timely medical treatments, you’re puppy will be back in tip-top shape in no time