Your dog’s vital signs are easy to take and can provide advance warning of any health problems that might be affecting your pet. When checking your dog’s vital signs be sure to include the following tests:
Your dog’s temperature should normally range between 99.5° and 102.5°. If your dog’s temperature goes above 103°, there is a problem. It’s easy to take your pet’s temperature with a lubricated rectal thermometer. A better option that’s less invasive is to use a thermometer designed for reading your dog’s temperature inside one of its ears.
Checking your dog’s pulse is important, but first find out what is a normal pulse for your breed of dog. Pulse rates can vary between size and breed. Once you know what’s normal, you can check your dog’s heart beat in either of two locations. One is inside the upper thigh on your dog’s rear legs where you’ll find the femoral artery. The other is on its chest behind the left leg. To take your dog’s pulse, count the beats per minute for 15 seconds then multiply by four. Normal heartbeats fall within a range of 60-150 per minute.
Respiration, or breathing, is another indicator of good health. Do this when your dog is relaxed, not after it’s been playing or running around for a while. When you have determined the normal respiration for your dog, it will be easy to spot any future changes in its breathing. The average range is around 10-30 breaths per minute, but this number varies according to the breed and size. Do a 15-second count of the breaths then multiply by four to get the one minute rate.
Another health indicator in your dog is circulation of the blood. Just like humans, a dog’s blood has to be carried efficiently throughout its body in order to deliver the necessary nutrients to the cells. Check your dog’s circulation by lifting its upper lip and pressing your finger on the gum line above the canine tooth. When you take your finger away, count how many seconds it takes for the gum to return to its normal pink color. More than a couple of seconds indicates a problem and you should call your vet as soon as possible.
After completing these health tests, do a hands-on and visual check of your pet. Run your hands over your dog’s joints, back, and belly for signs of discomfort or swelling. Check the eyes and ears for any signs of infection or parasites. Be sure to check the paws because they are a perfect place for foreign matter to get trapped.
Water is necessary for all life forms. Be aware of your dog’s water intake every day as it can provide life-saving information on your dog. Don’t hesitate to call your vet if you notice a sudden and significant increase in your dog’s water intake. A simple way to check for dehydration in your dog is to pull up some skin around its neck and then release it. It should fall back right away if the dog has enough fluids in its body. If your dog is dehydrated the skin will lose its elasticity and take longer to return to normal. Any sign of dehydration in your pet can be life threatening, and is a warning to immediately call your vet.
A compassionate owner will make their dog’s life comfortable and enjoyable, always being sure that their dog is healthy and safe. This is the greatest gift an owner can give to the most loyal friend one will ever have. A loving dog is truly a gift from heaven and should always be regarded as a possession to be treasured.