So you think you have found the perfect healthy puppy, certainly the cutest one in the litter, but how do you know if he is healthy? It is not that easy, but these tips and a good going over can give you a much better idea. You might want to have us give your new friend a puppy examination right away.
The best time to acquire a puppy is at 8 to 12 weeks of age. At this age a puppy should be well socialized, will have received the first series of immunizations, and should be weaned and eating solid food. The breeder can usually make a good guess about whether a puppy is of show or breeding quality. But keep in mind that picking a future champion at 8 weeks of age is a problem, even for breeders with considerable experience.
Most puppies look healthy at first glance, but a closer inspection may make some puppies more desirable than others. Take your time and go over each puppy from head to tail before making the final decision.
Signs of a Healthy Puppy
Begin by examining the head. The nose should be cool and moist. Nasal discharge or frequent sneezing is a sign of poor health. Brachycephalic breeds, such as Pugs and Pekingese, often have nostrils that collapse when the dog breathes in. This is undesirable.
A healthy puppy should have a correct bite. The correct bite for most breeds is a scissors bite, in which the upper incisors just slightly overlap the lower ones. An even bite, in which the incisors meet edge to edge, is equally acceptable in most breeds.
Feel for a soft spot on the dome of the skull. If present, the fontanel is open. This is not desirable. In toy breeds, an open fontanel can be associated with hydrocephalus.
The eyes should be clear and bright. If you see tear stains on the muzzle, look for eyelids that roll in or out, extra eyelashes, or conjunctivitis. The pupils should be dark and have no visible lines or white spots that may indicate congenital cataracts or retained fetal membranes. The haw (third eyelid) may be visible. This should not be taken as a sign of disease unless it is swollen and inflamed.
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