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Ask Dr. Aziza: How to Check Your Dog's Vitals

13 Dec 2022 | Written by Tori Holmes

As a veterinarian, there are many things I observe and measure to assess the health of a dog. If you’re interested in learning how to do the same, I recommend keeping it simple and sticking to the fundamentals, which is learning how to check your dog’s vitals.

When learning how to check dog vitals, there are four key signs you’ll need to focus on:

Vital sign #1: Temperature

Dogs have higher normal body temperatures compared to us humans – the average temperature range for a dog is 100.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. At the vet clinic, we prefer to check the temperature rectally, but if you are not able to perform this at home that’s okay. Check with your veterinarian to see if they have any ear thermometers they can recommend.

Vital sign #2: Heart rate

If you don’t own a stethoscope, don’t worry! You can still assess your dog’s heart rate at home by following these steps:

With your hand, you’ll also be able to get a feel of the heart's rhythm, which should be nice and even like a drumbeat.

Vital sign #3: Respiratory rate

You can determine your dog’s respiratory rate by simply watching. The dog’s chest will extend outward and inward, which counts as one breath. Like the heart rate, count the number of breaths you see in 15 seconds and multiply by 4 – the normal respiratory rate for dogs is 16 to 30 breaths per minute. A dog’s breaths should be nice and even, almost effortless.

Vital sign #4: Mucous membranes

The easiest way to check your dog’s mucous membranes is to check their gums. The moisture and colour of your dog’s gums are both very important in assessing health. Your dog’s gums should be wet from saliva and be a nice, normal pink colour.

Knowing how to check dog vitals is an important skill for pet parents to learn, as it can give them early warning when an emergency may be arising. By knowing what to look for in each vital, you can tell when something isn’t right and contact your veterinarian promptly, saving precious time.

Responses to this Post

20 Feb, 2023 at 11:38 am
Great by all means and a very informative blog. I’ve learned something new today, keep sharing worthy info like this!

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