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Tips to choosing the right canine companion for adoption

By HELEN PALMER

K-9 Corner

I read in the Advocate Messenger that the Danville-Boyle County Humane Society will be honoring National Dog Day soon with a special adoption session. Because of this event, I thought it might be helpful to list some criteria for evaluating the various pups and mature dogs at the adoption event.

Since the medical records are not always available for each dog that is looking for a new home, here are some signs of a healthy dog.

Signs of a healthy dog

• Eyes: bright, alert. Some dogs have a small daily discharge which needs to be wiped each day which is normal.

• Head: up, not hanging down (which may indicate depression).

• Gums: pink or pale red. Some dogs have black spots on the gums which is normal for several breeds.

• Ears: Alert to sounds. Take a clicker toy with you if you are seriously looking for a new companion. Ears should be relatively odor-free.

• Coat: Shiny, clean, free of mats and parasites. (The Boyle County shelter grooms its animals before offering them for adoption; some shelters do not.)

• Attitude: Alert, ready to work or play.

• Elimination: Daily. Depending on food given, a dog may have more than one stool. Stools are generally brown and firm. White stools occur after eating bones, whereas bright yellow stools may indicate a liver problem. Black stools occur from digested blood.

• Normal rectal temperature: 101-102 degrees F.

• Normal pulse: 70-120 beats per minute depending on the size and age of the animal. Dogs have an uneven pulse rhythm.

• Normal respiration: 10-30 breaths per minute. This depends on the size of the dog.

Preventative shots

• Rabies: Vaccination is required by law.

• Distemper: The strain of distemper in this area is usually fatal

• Hepatitis: a disease of the liver, usually fatal in dogs.

• Parvovirus: causes bloody diarrhea and the animal becomes dehydrated and dies, sometimes as fast as within 24 hours of first symptoms.

Signs of a sick dog

• Eyes: dull, heavy discharge, rubbing eyes with paws. Almost all abnormal eyes should be checked by a veterinarian.

• Ears: Shaking head, rubbing sides of head on ground or carpet, scratching ear daintily with hind foot while grunting or moaning. Ear may smell foul and have a dark brown discharge. Consult with veterinarian.

• Attitude: lethargic; change in personality, e.g. may growl when approached or act unusually submissive; may crawl under the porch or under furniture and refuse to come out (Most shelters will not take such a dog to an adoption event).

• Appetite: poor; water consumption often increases unless dog is critically ill; then water intake is poor.

• Coat: Some illnesses cause a good coat to become dull and lifeless.

• Gums: pale or white — usually means internal bleeding.