to seem a bit subdued into the evening.
A little knowledge gained in advance about your dog and his normal vital signs could save a lot of anxiety, uncertainty, and time should you find yourself asking these kinds of questions.
Temperature Designate a standard digital thermometer (available in drugstores and grocery stores) to use exclusively for your dog. Apply a small amount of lubricant, such as petroleum jelly, to the end of the thermometer. It possible, have someone on hand to assist you to steady and restrain your dog, if necessary. Insert the thermometer so that the metal tip is inside the dog’s rectum as far as it will easily go—up to two inches or so. At a minimum, the metal tip should be inside. Follow the directions on the thermometer. It should beep when it has recorded the dog’s temperature. Remove the thermometer and note the reading. An average temperature is usually between 100.5 and 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pulse - Place your hand flat against your dog’s chest, just behind the front leg. You should be able to feel your dog’s heart beating. Take a count for 15 seconds, and then multiply by four to get the number of beats per minute. A dog’s heart makes two contractions for each heartbeat, so count each “tub dup” as one beat. You can also get your dog’s pulse or heart rate by feeling the femoral artery, a large artery that runs inside the back leg. If you have difficulties taking your dog’s pulse, ask your veterinarian to show you how the next time you visit. Most adult dogs’ heart rate falls between 60 and 160 beats a minute. Toy breeds’ or puppies’ rates average 180 beats a minute.
Respiration Rate - While your dog is awake but relaxed, watch his rib cage se and fall. Count the number of breaths (one rise and fall of the rib cage) for 15 seconds. Multiply that count by four to get breaths per minute. Note this rate. (If your dog has recently exercised, be sure to wait an hour or more before taking his respiration rate.)
Mucous-membrane- Use your fingers to pull back your dog’s lips so you can get a good look all around the gums. Some dogs will have areas of black pigmentation, which is normal. Pay attention to the nonpigmented areas, which should be pink. It may be helpful to take a photo or two that you can refer to later. Also note the moistness of the gums; they shouldn’t be dry or tacky.
Skin Turgor - Grip the scruff of your dog’s neck and pull up or “tent” the skin. When you let go, does it return to its normal position quickly? Dehydration impairs the skin’s elasticity. If your dog is dehydrated, the skin won’t snap back as quickly as normal.
Capillary Refill Time
Lift your dog’s lip and firmly press your finger to a non-pigmented area of the gums for a second or two. Once you remove your finger, it should take less than two seconds for the blanched area where your finger was to return to its normal color.