A Word From... Dr. C.A. Heller III DVM

Selecting A Healthy Pet

No matter where you are looking for a new pet, there are some things to look for that will help you select one with minimal health issues. This holds true no matter the source of the pet - breeder or shelter/rescue group.

Look at the ears. You want to see clean, pink ears. There should be no exudate or discharge present. You also do not want to smell a bad odor coming from the ears. Discharge and odor often mean that an ear infection or ear mites are present. Next look at the eyes, they should be clean and bright. The whites of the eyes should not be red or bloodshot. Red, goopy eyes often are present when the pet has conjunctivitis or is suffering from an upper respiratory infection.

Next look at the pet’s overall body condition. You do not want to be able to count the ribs from a distance. Malnourished pets often are carrying heavy intestinal parasite loads, or they could be suffering from some serious underlying medical condition.

Check the condition of the fur. It should be clean and free of mats. Look for the presence of fleas and their droppings. Why risk bringing these pesky insects into your home. Fleas are also capable of transmitting certain diseases and tapeworms.

Check the umbilical area for any large bumps. A bump in this area could indicate the presence of a hernia, which would need to be surgically repaired if they are present.

If the pet that you are considering is an un-neutered male, check that both testicles are present in the scrotum. If one is missing it could be retained inside the abdomen. Retained testicles require more extensive surgery when the affected pet is neutered.

Also look at the roof of the mouth. You do not want to see any holes in this area. A hole in the roof of the mouth is called cleft palate, which can be very hard to repair.

If the pet that you have selected does not have any of these issues, then you are off to a good start. It would still be imperative to have your newly selected pet examined by the veterinarian of your choice. They can perform a more thorough exam and testing.


C.A. Heller III, DVM
Animal Care Clinic

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P.O. Box 7077, Canton, Ohio 44705
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5100 Peach Street, Louisville, Ohio 44641
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