How To Tell If Your Dog Is Healthy & Vital

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Disclaimer: If your dog has any sudden changes in mood or behavior, or if your dog is sick, you need to go to the veterinarian. If your dog is healthy and you just want to check that everything is good, this is for you.

I listen to Dr. Will Falconer’s podcast called the Vital Animal Podcast and I have even taken some of his online courses. The term he uses, VITAL, really gives me pause because most dogs (and cats) are just surviving.

Vital, according to Dr. Falconer, means wildly healthy and naturally disease resistant. Gosh, that sounds perfect! Many of you know that when I was planning our move to Texas I was doing a lot of research on ways to keep my dog Kimberly healthy and pest-free without using those neurotoxins wrapped in pretty packaging with lipstick marketing. I relied heavily on the knowledge I gained from Dr. Falconer and something happened the other day that inspired this post.

I cut Kim’s back nails for the first time in 5 1/2 years. Hear me out on this. I have not neglected her nail trims, nor have I been paying someone else to trim her nails. Her back nails never grew. For the past 5 1/2 years since we became her family, I never once had to trim her back nails.

Even at the beginning, when I was taking her to the vet for nail trims, they also never had to trim her back nails.

Earlier this week I trimmed Kim’s nails and as I checked her back nails, to my surprise, they had grown considerably! I trimmed them and immediately thought to myself that it has to be the Canine Immune Complete that we have been giving Kim for the past couple of months.

I always thought Kim was very healthy, and I still think she has always been, but now I think I’ve leveled up with her health. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’ve found some long-forgotten secret, but I don’t think most people even know what Canine immune Complete is, so as part of the extra content for Patrons, I’m going to give you some extra info at the end of today’s post.

Before we get into that, let’s talk about some signs of health and vitality in our dogs.

Fresh Breath

We all know that “dog breath” is a thing and it shouldn’t be! Right after my dog eats, sure, I can smell her food on her breath, but in general, she doesn’t have bad breath. Keeping your dog’s teeth and gums clean and free of buildup is very important. What happens in the mouth affects the whole body.

My preference would be raw meaty bones (appropriate bones and sizes, of course) to keep a dog’s mouth and teeth clean, but if you’re like me and have a princess dog who won’t chew a bone to save her life, then you will need to brush those teeth!

You can get a small child’s toothbrush, a finger toothbrush, or even a piece of gauze with some coconut oil and rub gently around the gum line. Daily is best but even weekly is good.

If you are keeping your dog’s teeth and gums clean and your dog still has bad breath, this could be a sign of something off in the gut. A consult with a holistic, integrative, or homeopathic veterinarian is in order.

A Shiny, Clean Coat (and Nails!)

A healthy dog on the inside is going to look healthy on the outside too! A shiny, clean coat is a good indication of health, while a dull coat, excessive licking, scratching, bald spots, etc. can be a sign of underlying medical issues.

For instance, “the itch” as Dr. Falconer calls it, meaning dogs who become itchy and scratch a lot, have red or inflamed ears, etc., make up the majority of health concerns in vet clinics in the U.S. And unsurprising, most of these concerns start to pop up right around 1 month after vaccines. This is a very prominent symptom of vaccinosis, which we discussed during happy cat month 🙂

If your dog is experiencing a dull coat or itchy and inflamed skin or ears, it is possible that switching to a biologically appropriate raw food diet can help, but some pets will need additional intervention with a holistic, integrative or homeopathic veterinarian.

Maintaining a Lean Weight

Obesity in pets in the U.S. is rampant and it is causing lots of diseases. Obesity causes diabetes, heart problems, lung conditions, bone and joint disease including arthritis, skin conditions, and even some types of cancer.

Maintaining a lean weight is important. You should be able to see your dog’s waist taper in towards their hips without seeing their ribcage (this can vary based on breed).

It’s also important to consult your veterinarian if your dog loses too much weight too quickly.

To maintain a lean figure, consider switching to a biologically appropriate raw food diet.

Poop! and pee

Yes, it’s gross, but it’s so very important! I know how much and how often Kim poops. If this changes, I start to question what she has eaten and how she is feeling. I also know what color and consistency to expect, so if this changes I start wondering what could be going on. Generally, if her poop changes, it’s because she got a snack that was a little too fatty, but it’s important to stay on top of these things!

Here are some things you never want to see in your dogs’ poop: blood, mucus, worms, a chalky white discoloration, or a black tar-like consistency.

Changes in your dog’s stool can be due to so many different things such as diet, stress, allergies, parasites, bacteria, viruses, and many other underlying medical concerns. It’s always a good idea to check with your vet if you have concerns over your dog’s poop.

If Kimberly gets diarrhea I usually give it a day or so to work itself out. I am a big advocate for listening to our bodies symptoms. Diarrhea is a symptom and if we try to snuff out the symptom without handling the underlying cause, there’s a problem. I do the same for myself, so don’t come at me about making my dog suffer.

If her diarrhea doesn’t clear up after a day, I consult the vet and switch her to a bland diet of cooked ground turkey and either sweet potato or pumpkin for a few days.

The color of your dog’s urine is also important. A clear yellow is good. Kim’s is always a clear yellow, but one time it wasn’t and we went straight to the vet. She had a UTI.

Dark or bright yellow is a sign of dehydration. Other colors definitely need to be checked out by your vet. Pink or red could indicate blood in the urine and mean you need to go to the vet now! Inappropriate urination is also a sign of illness and should be checked by your vet.

Clean, odor-free, non-itchy, non-red ears

We talked a little about ears earlier when I brought up vaccinosis, and here we are again. Your dog’s ears should be the same color as the rest of their body, clean and they shouldn’t be itchy to your dog.

If your dog has a smell coming from their ears, it is likely an ear infection and needs to be treated. If you notice black or brown gunk, this could be due to infection or ear mites, which also need to be treated.

Seeking treatment with an allopathic vet is helpful in times of need, but I always recommend following up with a holistic, integrative, or homeopathic vet to help treat the underlying cause, since most allopathic vets (not all) treat symptoms and not causes.

Blood Work

I can’t end the list without mentioning how important it is to have your pet checked out by your veterinarian and to have annual (or semi-annual for those seniors) blood work done. Having blood work done can oftentimes give us a heads up with something that we can’t see on the outside yet.


I told you earlier that I trimmed Kim’s back nails for the first time ever. While we have had some changes in brands of food due to the move, I don’t see this as a contributing factor. She has been raw-fed for the entire time we’ve had her, and I feel like the brands we have been feeding are lateral moves. Maybe I’m wrong and maybe they could be contributing, but I think the biggest difference is with the Canine Immune Complete.

Canine Immune Complete

Canine Immune Complete from Vital Pet Health is basically like a multi-vitamin for dogs…but like a super-charged vitamin. It used to be a powder that you added to your dog’s food, but I got the very first batch of the liquid spray that is more palatable for dogs.

It’s made using transfer factors from cow colostrum. Here is the description from the website:


Canine Immune Complete™ uses transfer factors from cow colostrum ingredients to help your dog develop and maintain a powerful Immune System, stronger Bones, Shinier Coat, and Cope With Seasonal Allergies and gain more Energy.

Expect results within 2 weeks of daily usage. Our formula uses Micronization™ technology to increase the absorption of all formula nutrients by your dog.

SECURE AND ENHANCE YOUR DOG’S IMMUNE SYSTEM – Help to protect your dog from immune deficiencies caused by environmental stresses or other influences.

Today, our Dogs, like humans are under increased immune system burdens that can cause a weakened immune system leading to imbalances and illness.

ADVANCED PROTECTION WITH TRANSFER FACTORS – Transfer Factor polypeptides are messenger molecules that “educate” cells by giving the immune system the ability to identify harmful pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, fungus or parasites allowing the immune system to

kill the pathogens and remember them when they come back.

Transfer Factors are extracted from natural, whole colostrum and are nature’s primary immune system enhancers representing the “brains” of immune system development and are known to support natural immune defenses and your dog’s daily health.

Transfer factors were discovered by Henry Sherwood Lawrence in 1954 as a breakthrough mechanism for the enhancement of the immune system.

Transfer Factors have been largely ignored until now and may be the most effective immune system enhancer ever known.

MICRONIZATION™ – There is no point in supplementing your dog if they can’t absorb the supplement with a compromised digestive system.

Digestive issues that can wreak havoc on your dog’s immune system such as leaky gut are among several problems.

The micronized liquid Canine Immune Complete bypasses the digestive tract to cross the blood-brain barrier making our formula far more bioavailable.

PATENT PENDING – Our formula is patent pending using a proprietary blend of:

  • Transfer Factor using Natural components from cow colostrum and bovine..
  • AFA ( Aphanizomenon flos-aquae ) AFA activates the dog’s own natural killer cells to attack the harmful microorganisms attacking your dog and to boost the immune system, aid in wound healing, help fight against heart disease and maximize digestive efficacy.
  • Natural Citric Acid from Lemon Rind.

QUALITY INGREDIENTS – We source the best ingredients and they are:

  • Non-GMO
  • Cruelty-Free
  • Synthetic-Free
  • Whole-Food Sourced
  • Made in the USA.

TOTAL CONTROL – We own the following:

  • Our San Diego Manufacturing Facility is a GMP ( Good Manufacturing Practice ) Certified facility. I believe we are the only dog supplement manufacturer that is made in a GMP facility. Our supplements are Human Grade.
  • Our fulfillment center in Oregon takes care of all our shipping and we are expanding to the East Coast as well.”

It’s not cheap, but it also lasts a long time. I think it’s been one of the best investments in my dog’s health that I have made since the decision to switch to a raw food diet.

I have signed up to become an affiliate for Vital Pet Health, which means that you pay the same price but I make a small percentage of the sale for referring you. If you choose to purchase for your dog, I hope you consider using my affiliate link.

And if you do, please let me know the changes you notice in your dog in the weeks and months following.

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