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Your Dog’s Vital Signs

Checking your dogs vital signs will help you know when your dog is truly sick or just having a bad day.

Your dog’s vital signs are simple to track and record and will keep you advised of any health problems that may be looming in your pet’s life.

Check your dog’s temperature:
A dog’s temperature normally ranges between 99.5° and 102.5°. If your dog’s temperature hits above 103°, there is a problem. You can take your pet’s temperature with a lubricated rectal thermometer. A digital thermometer accomplishes the task quickly. An even better option that’s less invasive and instant is to use a thermometer designed for reading your dog’s temperature inside the ear.

Checking your dog’s pulse:
You should first check with your vet, or research online what is a normal pulse for your breed of dog because it can vary between size and breed. Once you know what is 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 the chest behind the left leg. While taking 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, that’s why it’s important to know what is normal for your dog.

Respiration, or breathing, is another good health indicator you need to check. Do this when your dog is in a relaxed state, not after he’s been playing or is panting due to the heat of summer. When you know what is a normal respiration for your dog, it will be easy to spot changes in its breathing. The average range is around 10-30 breaths per minute, but varies according to breed and size. Again. you can 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 its circulation. Just like humans, a dog’s blood must be carried efficiently throughout his body to deliver nutrients to the tissues. Check your dog’s circulation by lifting his 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 you have completed these health tests, use a hands-on and visual once-over of your pet. Run your hands over your dog’s joints, back, and belly for signs of discomfort or swelling. Check his eyes, ears and bottom for any signs of infection or parasites. Don’t forget to check his paws, as this is a prime spot for foreign matter to get trapped.

Water Intake & Hydration Level
Water is necessary for all life forms. Watching your dog’s water intake and checking his hydration levels can give you 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 his neck and then release it. It should fall back to normal right away if enough fluids are present. However, if your dog is dehydrated, the skin loses its elasticity and remains in a tented position, taking longer to return to normal. Any sign of dehydration in your pet can be life threatening, and is a reason to immediately call your vet.

Your dog’s vital signs are a like a highway map to its health. A compassionate owner will strive to make their dog’s life comfortable and enjoyable. This is the greatest gift a master can give the most loyal friend he or she will ever have. A loving dog is a gift from heaven and should always be treated as such.



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