Merck Manual

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Judging the Physical and Social Health of a New Dog

Judging the Physical and Social Health of a New Dog

Positive Attributes

Negative Attributes

  • Active, friendly, sociable, curious

  • Healthy weight

  • Clean, shiny coat free of mats, sores, or fleas

  • Clean ears and eyes

  • History of vaccination and veterinary care

  • History of eating a high-quality dog food

  • Timid or aggressive (snarls, backs away, snaps)

  • Thin or scrawny, with ribs or hip bones sticking out (Note: A pot belly on a thin puppy may be a sign of worms, a very common and easily treatable condition.)

  • Dirty coat stained with urine or feces

  • Fleas or “flea dirt” (reddish brown granules or flecks, commonly seen over the rump)

  • Red, inflamed, crusty, or painful ears

  • Red spots or sores on the skin

  • Signs of respiratory problems (for example, a cough or runny eyes or nose)

  • History of illness (vomiting, diarrhea, or similar signs)