Picking out a new fur baby is an exciting time for the entire family. It’s so easy to fall in love with the first cute pup that you meet without stopping to consider whether the pup you are choosing is healthy and strong.

Although there is no way to guarantee that you are choosing a healthy puppy, there are some things you can look for that will give you the best possible chance.

Your Healthy Puppy Checklist

  • Clean and shiny coat – A puppy’s coat should be clean and shiny. Look for bare spots, sores, itching and redness as these indicate that the pup may be suffering from skin problems, allergies or parasites.
  • Clear eyes and nose – A healthy puppy has a cool, damp nose, clear and bright eyes with no redness or sign of discharge.
  • Clean, odour free ear canals – A puppy’s ears should be clean inside, with no sign of redness, irritation or discharge. A build-up of wax, a bad smell, constant scratching or head shaking can indicate ear mites or infection.
  • Pink gums – A healthy pup’s gums should be bright pink. Pale gums can indicate that the pup may be suffering from anaemia or is infested with worms.
  • A strong, sturdy body – A healthy puppy shouldn’t appear thin or bony and the belly shouldn’t be swollen or distended which is a sign of a poor diet or worm infestation. Check for any lumps at the belly button and groin. Lumps in these areas are often hernias which usually require surgical correction.
  • Firm stools – Healthy pups pass firm, regular stools. Diarrhoea can be an indication of many serious puppy illnesses.
  • Lively and energetic behaviour – A healthy puppy will be playful and agile. Shy pups are often healthy but a puppy should not be lethargic, listless and disinterested in you or its surroundings.

Looking at these basic things will give you some indication of whether the pup you are choosing is healthy but it’s also extremely important to look at the pup’s parents, and the environment that they are kept in.

If the home/kennel areas are clean and hygienic, the puppies are used to be handled and played with, the owner is knowledgeable and has the best interests of the puppies at heart then chances are your puppy has had a good start in life.

Choosing a healthy puppy doesn’t end there. Before taking your puppy home, ensure that all the necessary paperwork has been given to you. Don’t accept promises “to mail” or “email” the paperwork at a later date. Responsible breeders will have all the necessary paperwork on hand.

Paperwork to expect:

  • Details of preventative health care – veterinary care they have received (dates and types of vaccinations, worming, flea and tick prevention)
  • Details of the microchip and change of ownership form – by law in Queensland all puppies must be microchipped before being sold or given away.
  • Pup’s registration papers – if buying a purebred puppy

Another thing to consider is adopting a puppy. Puppies from rescues are checked by a veterinarian, vaccinated, microchipped and treated for ticks, fleas and worms prior to re-homing.

We recommend that your new puppy has a health check with a veterinarian no later than 48 hours after settling in to your home. This is an ideal time to discuss the ongoing health care of your new family member.