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If you’re wondering how to tell if your dog is happy, that means you’re a caring, devoted dog parent. You obviously want your beloved companion to be as happy and healthy as possible, for as long as possible. Since a happy dog is typically a healthy dog, you want to be assured that everything is just fine with your pet. Thankfully, there are a lot of signs that can tell you all is well.

All you need to do is to be observant. Your dog’s body language, for instance, will often paint a picture of their contentment level. Your pup’s facial expression can also give you some clues. Here’s a look at some of the indications your dog is either doing great or that they might need to get checked out by your veterinarian.

Info For Dog Parents: How To Tell If Your Dog Is Happy, Healthy, And Thriving

sad scared pug | Ultimate Pet NutritionYou probably look into your dog’s beautiful eyes on a regular basis. But did you know those eyes could indicate your pet is happy? If the eyes and eyelids look relaxed, that’s a great sign. If, on the other hand, you notice your dog staring intently at something, that could mean they’re in an aggressive mode. If the eyes are wide and the whites are showing prominently, that could mean you have a fearful dog.1

A dog’s ears and mouth might also indicate happiness. If the ears are relaxed, your pet is usually happy. If they’re moved forward, that means they’re interested in something, such as a squirrel in your backyard (or a treat you have in your hand). The mouth is another good indicator. If your pet seems to be smiling, they’re feeling good. If your dog is panting heavily, on the other hand, it might look like a smile, but it may mean they’re overheated or experiencing stress.2

Other Signs You Have A Happy Dog At Home

dog health | Ultimate Pet NutritionYour dog’s tail might also provide clues as to whether they’re happy. Look at the base of the tail. When the base is below the spine, that means your dog is content. The higher the tail goes, the more aroused the dog is getting. A wagging tail, one that rapidly moves from side to side, means your pet is really excited.3

Dog body language can also say a lot about your pet’s mental state. When dogs play, they typically bow while moving their body and face. If this movement is loose, they are having a great time. On the other hand, if they’re stiff or tend to look away, that means they’re not in the mood for playtime. When a dog leans back or away, or keeps their body or head low, those are potential signs of fear.4

One of the best parts of a dog parent’s day is coming home to a pup who just can’t wait to see them. A love-filled greeting is a great sign your dog is feeling healthy and happy. Also, if your dog shows you their belly, that’s another indication they feel content enough to want a tummy rub.5

Know The Basics Of Dog Health: Certain Physical Signs Can Reveal Your Dog’s Condition

You can get a good idea of how your dog is feeling by observing their body language and facial expressions. But how can you tell if there’s possibly something wrong and that it might be time to see the vet? One tip-off is lethargy. If your pet doesn’t seem to have the same energy level they normally do, that’s an indication you need to get medical attention. This is especially true if you notice any trouble breathing or difficulty walking.6

hungry dog | Ultimate Pet Nutrition

Is your dog eating, peeing, and pooping normally? If so, that’s great. It typically means everything is going as it should with your dog’s health. But if your dog has a sudden change in their appetite, or starts to drink water or urinate more often than normal, that could be a sign of an issue. Also,  prolonged vomiting might indicate a potential problem. Take your dog to the vet’s office to see what’s going on.7

Reasons A Dog’s Behavior Can Change

You know when your dog’s body language signifies happiness. A happy dog has that unmistakable tail wag. When you take them to the dog park, they bow and wiggle their bodies in a way that shows you they’re having fun. But what do you do if your dog’s behavior suddenly changes and they seem withdrawn or just, well, different? Do you simply have a bored dog, or is there something wrong?

One possible reason for a behavioral change is that something in your home may have changed. You could have brought home a new child or a new pet. You might have moved into a new house. These are major upheavals, for both humans and their animals. A change in routine of this magnitude – or even a relatively minor change – can sometimes lead to alterations in behavior.8

old tired dog | Ultimate Pet NutritionIf you have an older dog, their behavior can gradually change due to cognition issues. They will sometimes show signs of separation anxiety, or they might act more aggressive than normal. Some dogs will howl or bark at night, wander around the home, or suddenly be fearful or overly attached to their pet parents. If you notice any of these signs, you should have your dog examined by your vet.9

But a dog can suddenly start acting differently no matter what their age. Here are some of the potential reasons why.

  • Your pet may have suffered some sort of injury or is in pain. It could be a minor issue, or something that could be serious, such as hip dysplasia or arthritis.
  • The dog may have a urinary tract infection or some other type of infection.
  • There could be something wrong with one of their internal organs due to hormone problems or a condition affecting the liver, kidneys, or heart.
  • Fleas and ticks can sometimes cause discomfort that gets so bad it affects your dog’s behavior.
  • Your pet might have eaten something toxic, or ingested human food that has led to an upset stomach.10

If your dog has any sort of sudden behavioral change, it’s time for a visit to your vet. If your vet rules out a medical problem, then you might want to consider professional dog training.

Look Over Your Pup’s Body: The Condition Of Your Dog’s Coat, Eyes, Ears, And Oral Health

hug your dog | Ultimate Pet NutritionThe next time you give your dog some love, take notice of different areas of their body. The eyes, nose, ears, and other areas can give you some clues regarding the overall health of your pet. Here’s how to do it.

  • Eyes – Take a close look into your pet’s eyes. The white areas should be bright, not bloodshot. The center of the eye should be clear, and the pupils should be the same size. Make sure there’s no gunk in the corner of their eyes and no curling of the eyelids.
  • Nose – Check to see if your dog’s nose is running, or if it seems too dry. Also, look for any sores. Talk to your vet if you have any reasons to be concerned.
  • The ears, mouth, and bodyLook at your dog’s ear flaps to see if there’s any redness or signs of drainage. If the ears have an odd smell, that could be a sign of an infection. Check the mouth as well. The teeth should be white and the gums should be pink and smooth. Give your pet a big hug while checking for any odd bumps or signs of lesions.11

This impromptu check-up obviously won’t take the place of a thorough veterinary examination, which should be done every few months. But it might help you spot the signs of an issue that needs to be addressed. That’s the best way to keep your dog happy and healthy for many years to come.

Learn More:

Why Do Dogs Pace And What Can You Do To Help Your Anxious Dog?

Is Your Dog Sniffing Ground Too Much? Here’s Why

Strange Dog Behavior: Weird Pup Habits And What They Mean