Normal Vital Signs: By knowing whatâs normal in your dog, like body temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate, you can better tell if your pet needs medical care.
Body Temperature: Body temperature in animals is taken rectally. The normal body temperature for a dog is 100 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If your pet has a temperature less than 99 or over 104, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Mucous Membrane Color: The most commonly examined mucous membranes are the gums. The color of the gums is a good indicator of blood perfusion and oxygenation. The normal gum color is pink. If your pet has pigmented gums, lowering the eyelid can also give you an indicator of mucous membrane color. Pale, white, blue or yellow gums are cause for concern and you should contact your veterinarian immediately.
Capillary Refill Time: Briefly apply pressure to the gums and release. The area should blanch and rapidly return to the normal pink color. This test is referred to as the capillary refill time and is a crude method of assessing circulation. Normal refill time is 1 to 2 seconds. If the refill time is less than 1 second or over 3 seconds, immediate veterinary care is recommended. To practice, you can do a quick capillary refill test on yourself. Press down on the tip of your fingernail. The pink skin underneath the nail will blanch. When you release the fingertip, the color rapidly returns to normal.
Heart Rate: You can feel your petâs heartbeat on the left side of the chest at the area where a raised elbow will touch the chest. Your pet should be calm and quiet. Place your hand over this area of the chest and feel for a heartbeat. You can also use a stethoscope if you have one. Count the number of heartbeats for 15 seconds and multiply that number by 4. Be aware that a dogâs heartbeat will normally slow down and speed up with each breath. This is not an abnormal heart rhythm and does not require veterinary care.
If you cannot determine your petâs heartbeat, you can try to determine the pulse rate. The easiest pulse to feel is the pulse associated with the femoral artery, which is best felt inside the back leg in the groin area. Place your first two fingers up high on the inside of your petâs thigh. Slowly feel the area until you can detect a pulse. This method may take some practice and you may want to ask your veterinarian for guidance during a routine exam.
For dogs, a normal heartbeat varies on size: Â· Small dogs and puppies normally have heart rates of 120 to 160 beats per minute. Â· Dogs over 30 pounds have heart rates of 60 to 120. The larger the dog, the slower the normal heart rate.
If your pet has a heart rate outside the normal range, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Respiratory Rate: Counting the number of breaths per minute and determining the breathing pattern can be very important in an emergency. Learn the normal breathing rate and pattern for your pet.
Count the number of breaths your pet takes in one minute. Avoid counting when your pet is panting. A good time to count the normal breathing rate is when your pet is asleep.
Normal respiratory rates:
Â· For dogs: 10 to 30 breaths per minute. Dogs can also pant normally up to 200 pants per minute.
Determining the breathing pattern is also important. In a normal breath, the chest expands as the breath enters the chest. The chest then sinks as the breath leaves the chest. Exhalation requires no effort. If you notice your pet using his abdominal muscles to breath, gasping, making loud noises, taking shallow breaths, panting excessively or exhalation seems to be difficult, consult your veterinarian immediately. If you are unsure if your pet is breathing, place a cotton ball or tissue immediately in front of the nose and mouth. If you see movement of the cotton or tissue, your pet is still breathing. Another method is to use a mirror. Place the mirror in front of the petâs mouth and nose. If you see condensation on the mirror, your pet is still breathing.
Hydration: Lift the skin on the back of the dogs neck, release quickly. The skin should spring back into place. If the skin remains up or is slow to go back down, your dog is dehydrated. Another method of checking for dehydration is to touch the dogs gums. If the dogs gums a slick â normal. If the dogs gums are sticky â moderately to severe dehydration. If the gums are dry â Critical dehydration.
** Baseline Chart: You should keep a baseline chart of what is normal for your dog for easy comparison.
Dog owners, who recognize the early signs and symptoms of illness or pain in their dogs, will not only relieve their loved oneâs suffering but may also be able to save themselves an expensive trip to the veterinarian. Not only is it important to recognize these signs early to relieve pain and suffering, but it is much more effective to treat an illness when it is detected early.
The dog owner should keep an accurate and detailed account of their dogâs symptoms to help the veterinarian correctly diagnose and effectively treat the dogâs illness or condition. Most canine illnesses are detected through a combination of various signs and symptoms:
Temperature, Respiratory Rate and Heart Rate
A newborn puppy will have a temperature of 94-97Âº F. which will eventually reach the normal adult body temperature of 101.5Âº F. at the age of 4 weeks old. Take care when trying to take your dog or puppies temperature as the thermometer can easily be broken off in the canineâs rectum. Also any form of excitement can cause the temperature to rise by 2-3Âº when the dog is actually in normal health. If your dogâs temperature reaches 105Âº or above OR 96Âº or below please take him/her to the emergency vet immediately!
An adult dog will have a respiratory rate of 15-20 breaths per minute (depending on such variables as size and weight) and a heart rate of 80-120 beats per minute. You can feel for your dogâs heartbeat by placing your hand on his/her lower ribcage just behind the elbow. Donât be alarmed if the heartbeat seems irregular compared to a humanâs heartbeat, it is irregular in many dogs. Have your vet check it out and get used to how it feels when it is normal.
Any behavior changes that are not associated with a change in the household atmosphere, such as jealousy over a new pet or child may be an indication of an illness. Signs of behavioral changes may be:
If your dog shows any of these signs, he/she needs to be kept under close watch for a few hours, or even a few days, until positive signs develop or he/she has returned to normal. Do not try to exercise the dog or put him/her in any situation that may cause stress. Most veterinarians will want for you to keep track of when the symptoms first appeared, whether they are getting better or worse, and also whether the symptoms are intermittent, continuous, or increasing in frequency.
Dogs that are in pain will likely indicate that they are suffering by giving you clues as to where the area of discomfort is. For instance, a dog that has abdominal pain will continually glance toward their belly, bite or lick the area, and will not want to leave his/her bed. The dog may stand hunched over, or take the âprayer positionâ which is when a dog gets down on itâs forelegs with the hind legs still standing, because of the pain in her abdomen area.
Dogs can not tell you that they are hurting or cry real tears but a dog may vocalize their pain in a different way. A dog that is hurt suddenly (such as being stepped on) will cry out or whimper in pain. This also happens when an external injury or internal injury (such as an organ) is touched. Whining or vocalization that is unprovoked may be caused from an internal injury as well. Some breeds of dogs (such as the American Pit Bull Terrier) have a higher pain threshold and need to be watched more closely for signs of pain. Breeds with a high pain tolerance are more likely to endure the pain without vocalization.
Another clue to pain is a change in temperament. A dog that is in pain may show signs of aggression. Please take note of this before concluding that a dog has become vicious and let your veterinarian know so that the correct treatment can be administered. Also females in general (even humans!) have days when they are just in a bad mood for no obvious reason. Take note of days of times that these mood swings occur as well as any events that might have triggered them.
Other signs that your dog may be sick: â¢ Ears: discharge, debris, odor, scratching, crusted tips, twitching or shaking.
â¢ Eyes: redness, swelling or discharge.
â¢ Nose: runny, thickened or colored discharge, crusty.
â¢ Coughing, sneezing, vomiting or gagging.
â¢ Shortness of breath, irregular breathing or prolonged/heavy panting
â¢ Evidence of parasites in the dogâs stool, strange color, blood in the stool, or lack of a bowel movement (constipation).
â¢ Loss of appetite or not drinking as much water as normally would.
â¢ Weight Loss.
â¢ Strange color of urine, small amount of urine, straining, dribbling, or not going as frequently as normal.
â¢ Bad odor coming from mouth, ears, or skin.
â¢ Hair loss, wounds, tumors, dander or change of the skinâs color.
â¢ Biting of the skin, parasites, scratching or licking the skin frequently
Assessing the animals vital signs are just part of First Aid. Knowing what the priorities are of treatment is just as important.
Before any treatment can be done, insure that you and the injured/sick animal are in a position of safety before beginning. You cannot treat an animal in a location where further injury or harm is imminent. Using a makeshift stretcher, a blanket or board, move the animal to a safe location, then begin treatment.
Top TEN Priorities
- Stopped breathing, no pulse
- Stopped breathing, with pulse
- Loss of Consciousness Open airways
- Shock, pale gums, rapid breathing, weak, rapid pulse, cold skin
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest puncture or gaping wound
- Severe bleeding
- Abdominal puncture or gaping wound
- Extremes of body temperature â too hot or too cold.
- Poisoning, stings; toxins or snakebite.
Itâs not a scenario you want to imagine: finding your dog unconscious on your living room floor or your cat hit by a car. Finding your pet not breathing or with his heart not beating can be a terrifying experience, but there are things you can do. The most important step you can take is staying calm. If thereâs another person with you, have her call your veterinarian while you perform CPR.
Step 1: Check for responsiveness
Before you begin doing anything to your pet, make sure he is truly unresponsive.
- Check his breathing by placing your hand in front of his nose and mouth. (Be sure not to cover them and block his airway!)
- Check for his heartbeat by placing your ear against area where your petâs left elbow touches the chest.
Step 2: Secure an airway
If you donât see or feel your pet breathing, you immediately need to make sure his airway is clear.
Carefully pull his tongue forward out of his mouth. (Even an unresponsive animal can bite by instinct.)
- Look into the throat for a foreign object. If you find one, remove it carefully. (See Pet First Aid for instructions on responding to choking in pets.)
- Move the head until the neck is straight. (Donât move the neck if you suspect it is injured.)
Step 3: Rescue breathing
- Close your petâs mouth and breathe directly into his nose not his mouth until his chest expands.
- If the chest doesnât expand, check again for a foreign object in the throat and reposition the airway so it is straight.
- Once youâve gotten the chest to expand, continue the rescue breathing, repeating the breaths 12 to 15 times per minute (once every four to five seconds).
Step 4: Chest compressions
Do not begin chest compressions until youâve secured an airway and started rescue breathing.
- Gently lay your pet on his right side.
- The heart is located in the lower half of the chest on the left side, behind the elbow of the front left leg. Place one hand below the heart to support the chest; place the other hand over the heart.
- Press down gently on your petâs heart. Press down about one inch for medium-sized dogs; press harder for larger animals and with less force for smaller animals. To massage the hearts of cats and other tiny pets, compress the chest with the thumb and forefingers of one hand.
- Press down 80-120 times per minute for larger animals and 100-150 times per minute for smaller ones.
- Alternate the chest compressions with the rescue breaths.
Continue the heart massage compressions and the rescue breathing until you can hear a heartbeat and feel regular breathing. Once your pet is breathing and his heart is beating, call your veterinarian immediately.
Unfortunately, even in the hands of well-trained veterinary health professionals, the overall chance for success with resuscitation is low. In an emergency, however, it may give your pet his only chance.
Note: All content provided on HealthyPet.com, is meant for educational purposes only on health care and medical issues that may affect pets and should never be used to replace professional veterinary care from a licensed veterinarian. This site and its services do not constitute the practice of any veterinary medical health care advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Elaine Acker, CEO of Pets Amercia, demonstrates the proper technique for performing CPR on pets.Â We shot this video with âWolfgangâ because heâs a larger mannikin and the process is easier to see. However, this works the same way with cats. Just adjust the depth of your compressions accordingly (just as you would with an infant vs. an adolescent in human CPR
Whatâs recommended for humans may be toxic for pets
The First Step: Knowing What NOT To Apply
DEET and other human insect repellents should not be applied to dogs or cats. This chemical is toxic when ingested at high doses, and dogs and cats may lick it off and ingest it, potentially resulting in a toxicity.
With DEET ingestion, clinical signs may include:
- wobbly gait
- loss of appetite
If your pet has ingested DEET, please contact your veterinarian or emergency veterinary clinic for advice.
Safe Insect Repellents for Dogs
1) One spot-on topical product, K9 advantixÂ® by Bayer Animal Health, repels mosquitoes in addition to fleas, ticks, and flies for up to 30 days.
From the Bayer AH web site:
âadvantixÂ® demonstrated repellent activity against Culex pipiens mosquitoes, as determined by the ability to prevent feeding, ranging from 96.5% to 100% at all the points in time assessed during this [30 day] study.â
Read full report.
That is great news for dogs in need of an effective parasite and insect repellent. It is important to note that this product contains permethrin, which is very toxic to cats.
The advantixÂ® Spot-on is only for dogs, and for households containing both dogs and cats, pets must be kept separated until the product application areas on the dog is completely dry. Cats must be prevented from grooming those areas on their canine friends. If your cat ingests this product, please seek veterinary attention immediately.
This product is also toxic to aquatic life. Dogs should not be allowed to swim for 48 hours post application of advantixÂ®.
2) There are many ânaturalâ and insecticide-based sprays available on the market for dogs, available online (compare prices) or at pet supply retailers. It is best to a) identify what insect(s) you are wanting to repel, and b) check with your veterinarian if the product is appropriate and safe for your pet. Extra caution for the very young, very old and pets in poor health or on other medications.
Safe Insect Repellents for Cats
Cats are another story. They metabolize drugs and chemicals very differently from humans and dogs, and âsafeâ compounds for us may be quite toxic for cats. Plus, they are good groomers, which leads to possible ingestion as well as absorption through skin.
While there are some ânaturalâ products available for cats (compare prices), it is always best to check with your veterinarian first. Many natural preparations contain essential oils, and some of these oils are toxic to cats.
What about Avon Skin-So-Soft?
This product is often brought up as a safe non-DEET alternative for people and pets. Research on various mosquito repellents by the University of Florida showed that Skin-So-Soft bath oil repelled mosquitoes for 10 minutes. See product table of full report from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) extension.
The duration and effectiveness of this product are often debated. I have not found any instances of toxicity for humans or pets, but would urge caution for cats, who will often groom and ingest topical products.
What About Essential Oils, Garlic, and Other Natural Ingredients?
Caution is advised, for both dogs and cats. Many of these ingredients are ineffective insect repellents and some are toxic. For example, garlic is toxic to pets.
As noted above, essential oils are common ingredients for ânon-chemicalâ applications, and many of them are toxic to cats. While not 100% effective, keeping cats indoors will greatly reduce the numbers of insect bites and stings.
Screen Away Insects
Since ears and faces are the most accessible area of dogs and cats for insects, a face bonnet screen may help. At least for dogs.
Stay Out of the Way
Avoiding outdoor activities during times of day when insects are most active helps lower exposure. Mosquitoes are most active early in the morning and evening. Flies are active throughout the day, but face screens or keeping your pet indoors will help.
DEET toxicity from the Extension Toxicology Network.
DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) from the CDC.
All About DEET from About.com Chemistry.
To view this page in its original form, please visit: http://vetmedicine.about.com/od/parasites/a/Mosquito-Repellents.htm
So just what are âfoxtailsâ and why are they hazards? A foxtail refers to a type of plant awn, or seed, from the foxtail weed, Hordeum jubatum. During the spring they sprout up, often in vacant lots, along the edges of grass lawns or wild fields. Superficially they are often compared to a wheat grass appearance. Closer inspection reveals a slender stalk topped with a floret . As the weather warms, the plants dry and turn a golden brown . The floret is a group of arrow-shaped seeds that are released and easily become embedded in passing fur or clothing.
READ MORE HERE: â Dr. Don Beebe
AS OF 2011 sometime
Dr. Jean Doddâs NEW vaccine protocol -Â PERMISSION TO CROSSPOST
Dr. W. Jean Doddâs vaccination protocol is now being adopted by ALL 27
North American veterinary schools. I highly recommend that you read
this. Copy and save it to your files. Print it and pass it out at dog
fairs, cat shows, kennel club meetings, dog parks, give a copy to your
veterinarian and groomer, etc., etc. Get the word out.
Hi everyoneâ¦. THIS is wonderful news, that the veterinary schools are
now going to be teaching that over-vaccination of pets (once a year
âboostersâ) is only not necessary, but in some cases can be harmful or
deadly! It has information for both dogs and cats. There still is an
ongoing study regarding the Rabies vaccine. Most states now allow
(reluctantly) 3 year Rabies, but the study is collecting data on
whether or not even that may be too much. They are looking at 8 or 10
I hope you all stop having yearly boosters for your pets. If youâre
concerned with immune levels, have the vet run a Titer test. THEN and
only then, if the levels are below acceptable, should you have a
booster. After all, when is the last time you had a âboosterâ for
smallpox, or whooping cough, or anything else you had shots for as a
child? Immune systems work the same in all mammals, and the concept
that pets have to have yearly shots doesnât make any more sense than if
you had have shots every year. If mammalÂ¢s immune systems were that
weak in fending off these things, all of them, us included, would have
been extinct years ago!
VACCINATION NEWS FLASH
I would like to make you aware that all 27 veterinary schools in North
America are in the process of changing their protocols for vaccinating
dogs and cats. Some of this information will present an
ethical & economic challenge to vets, and there will be skeptics. Some
organizations have come up with a political compromise suggesting
vaccinations every 3 years to appease those who fear loss of income vs
those concerned about potential side effects.
Politics, traditions 20 or the doctorâs economic well being should not
be a factor in medical decision.
NEW PRINCIPLES OF IMMUNOLOGY
âDogs and cats immune systems mature fully at 6 months. If a modified
live virus (MLV) vaccine is given after 6 months of age, it produces an
immunity which is good for the life of the pet (i.e: canine distemper,
parvo, feline distemper). If another MLV vaccine is given a year later,
the antibodies from the first vaccine neutralize the antigens of the
second vaccine and there is little or no effect. The titer is not
âboostedâ nor are more memory cells induced.â< BR>
Not only are annual boosters for parvo and distemper unnecessary, they
subject the pet to potential risks of allergic reactions and
immune-mediated hemolytic anemia. âThere is no scientific documentation
to back up label claims for annual administration of MLV vaccines.â
Puppies receive antibodies through their motherâs milk. This natural
protection can last 8-14 weeks. Puppies & kittens should NOT be
vaccinated at LESS than 8 weeks. Maternal immunity will neutralize the
vaccine and little protection (0-38%) will be produced. Vaccination at
6 weeks will, however, delay the timing of the first highly effective
vaccine. Vaccinations given 2 weeks
apart suppress rather than stimulate the immune system. A series of
vaccinations is given starting at 8 weeks and given 3-4 weeks apart up
to 16 weeks of age. Another vaccination given sometime after 6 months
of age (usually at 1 year 4 months) will provide lifetime immunity.
CURRENT RECOMMENDATIONS FOR DOGS
Distemper & Parvo *âAccording to Dr. Schultz, AVMA, 8-15-95, when a
vaccinations series given at 2, 3 & 4 months and again at 1 year with
MLV, puppies and kitten program memory cells that survive for life,
providing lifelong immunity.â Dr. Carmichael at Cornell and Dr. Schultz
has studies showing immunity against challenge at 2-10 years for canine
distemper & 4 years for parvovirus. Studies for longer duration are
pending. âThere are no new strains of parvovirus as one manufacturer
would like to suggest. Parvovirus vaccination provides cross immunity
for all types.â Hepatitis (Adenovirus) is one of the agents known to be
a cause of kennel cough. Only vaccines with CAV-2 should be used as
CAV-1 vaccines carry the risk of âhepatitis blue-eyeâ reactions &
*Bordetella Parainfluenza: Commonly called âKennel coughâ.
Recommended only for those dogs boarded, groomed, taken to dog shows,
or for any reason housed where exposed to a lot of dogs. The intranasal
vaccine provides more complete and more rapid onset of immunity with
less chance of reaction. Immunity requires 72 hours and does not
protect from every cause of kennel cough. Immunity is of short duration
(4 to 6 months).*
*RABIES â There have been no reported cases of rabid dogs or cats in
Harris, Montgomery or Ft. Bend Counties [ Texas ] but there have been
rabid skunks and bats so the potential exists. It is a killed vaccine
and must be given every year.
*Lyme disease-Lyme disease is a tick born disease which can cause
lameness, kidney failure and heart disease in dogs. Ticks can also
transmit the disease to humans. The original Ft. Dodge killed bacteria
has proven to be the most effective vaccine. Lyme disease prevention
should emphasize early removal of ticks. Amitraz collars are more
effective than Top Spot, as amitraz paralyzes the tickâs mouthparts
preventing transmission of disease.
**VACCINATIONS NOT RECOMMENDED* *
Multiple components in vaccines compete with each other for the immune
system and result in lesser immunity for each individual disease as
well as increasing the risk of a reaction. Canine Corona Virus is only
a disease of puppies. It is rare, self limiting (dogs get well in 3
days without treatment). Cornell & Texas A&M have only diagnosed one
case each in the last 7 years. Corona virus does not cause disease in
*Leptospirosis vaccine is a common cause of adverse reactions in dogs.
Most of the clinical cases of lepto reported in dogs in the US are
caused by serovaars (or types) grippotyphosa and bratsilvia. The
vaccines contain different serovaars eanicola and ictohemorrhagica.
Cross protection is not provided and protection is short lived . Lepto
vaccine is immuno-supressive to puppies less than 16 weeks.
Giardia is the most common intestinal parasite of humans in North
America , 30% or more of all dogs & cats are infected with giardia. It
has now been demonstrated that humans can transmit giardia to dogs &
cats and vice versa.*
Heartworm preventative must be given year-round in Houston .
*VACCINES BADLY NEEDED
New vaccines in development include: Feline Immunodeficiency Virus and
cat scratch fever vaccine for cats and Ehrlichia [one of the other tick
diseases, much worse than Lyme] for dogs.
THE VIEW FROM THE TRENCHES; BUSINESS ASPECTS
Most vets recommend annual boosters and most kennel operators require
them. For years, the pricing structure of vets has misled clients into
thinking that the inherent value of an annual o ffice visit was in the
âshotsâ. They failed to emphasize the importance of a physical exam for
early detection of treatable diseases. It is my hope that you will
continue to require Rabies & Kennel cough and emphasize the importance
of a recent vet exam. I also hope you will accept the new protocols and
honor these pets as currently vaccinated. Those in the boarding
business, who will honor the new vaccine facilities, are reluctant to
Dogs & cats no longer need to be vaccinated against distemper, parvo, &
feline leukemia every year. Once the initial series of puppy or kitten
vaccinations and first annual vaccinations are completed, immunity from
MLV vaccines persists for life. It has been shown that cats over 1 year
of age are immune to Feline Leukemia whether they have been vaccinated
Imagine the money you will save, not to mention fewer risks from side
risk of mediated hemolytic anemia and allergic reactions are r educed
by less frequent use of vaccines as well as by avoiding unnecessary
vaccines such as K-9 Corona virus and chlamydia for cats, as well as
ineffective vaccines such as Leptospirosis and FIP. Intranasal vaccine
for Rhiotracheitis and Calici virus, two upper respiratory viruses of
cats provide more complete protection than injectable vaccines with
less risk of serious reactions.
The AAHA and all 27 veterinary schools of North America are our biggest
endorsement for these new protocols.*
*Dr. Bob Rogers*
Please consider as current on all vaccinations for boarding purposes.
DOGS Initial series of puppy vaccines
1. Distemper, hepatitis, parvo, parinfluenze â 3 sets one month apart
concluding at 16 weeks of age.*
2. Rabies at 16 weeks of age (later is better)
3. Bordetella within last 4-6 months
First annual (usually at 1 year and 4 months of age)*
1. DHP, Parvo, Rabies
2. Bordetella within last 4-6 months 2 years or older
1. Rabies within last year
2. Bordetella within last 4-6 months
3. DHP & Parvo given anytime over 6 months of age, but not
necessarily within the last year.
Recommended: Physical exam for transmissible diseases and health risks.
CATS Initial kitten series
1. Distemper [PLP], Rhino Calicivirus, Feline Leukemia Vaccine â 3 sets
given one month apart concluding at 16 weeks.
2. Rabies at 16 weeks
First Annual [usually at 1 year and 4 months of age]
1. Distemper (PLP), Rhino Calicivirus, Rabies 2 years or older
1. Rabies within the last year
2. Rhino Calicivirus within last year
3. Distemper and FelV given any time after 6 months of age, but not
necessarily with the last year.
Recommended: Physical exam, FeLV/FIV testing, fecal exam for giardia.
Some research I did on Glucosamine
My Comments: This is an excellent article.
The American Heartworm Society has three âplatinumâ sponsors and five âbronzeâ sponsors. All eight are major pharmaceutical manufacturers.
It comes as no surprise, then, that the AHS recommends year-round, birth-to-death heartworm prevention drugs â no matter where you live, the time of year, the age of your dog, his size or health status.
Whatâs Wrong with This Picture?
Huge conflict of interest potential.
Relatively low actual incidence of life-threatening infection.
The existence of less toxic recommendations.
Read More on this here: by Dr. Becker at Mercola.com