Checking Your Pets Vital Signs
If your pet is ever in distress, it is helpful to be familiar with your dog’s vital signs. So what should those vital signs be? The best thing to do is to determine your pet’s “normal” or baseline vital signs so that you can make a comparison to this baseline during times of stress, accident or illness.
“A normal heart rate for dogs is between 60 and 140 beats per minute. To determine your dog’s heart rate, put your hand to his chest and count how many pulses you feel in 15 seconds, then multiply by 4 to get the number of beats per minute. If you have trouble detecting heart beats in the chest area, try placing two fingers on the middle of your dog’s thigh near where the leg joins the body. There, you should be able to feel the femoral artery pulsing each time the heart beats.
Next, you want to determine your dog’s rate of respiration, at rest (in other words, not right after a game of Frisbee). A healthy dog takes between 12 and 24 breaths per minute. To measure breathing rate, count the number of times the chest expands in 10 seconds and multiply by 6. You can do this either by watching your dog or resting your hand on the ribs. Normal respirations should not make any noise, and should require very little effort. Of course, if you have a brachycephalic breed like a Pug or English Bulldog, a little snort from time to time can be expected!
The final vital sign to measure in your pet is body temperature; a normal temperature is around 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. And yes, the best measure of true body temperature is taken rectally, so you might want to distract your dog with a treat or toy while you take the temperature. If you (or your dog) aren’t comfortable with that particular method, the next best tool is an ear thermometer or “touch-free” infrared thermometer that is made for animals.
Once you have taken your dog’s vitals, keep a log of his normal numbers in your pet first aid kit, in the event you ever need to grab it and go. The three main vitals you want to measure are the heart rate, breathing rate and body temperature.”
How to Deal with Common Pet Emergencies
Poisoning and Exposure to Toxins
Poisoning is a pet emergency that causes a great deal of confusion for pet owners. In general, any products that are harmful to people are also harmful for pets. Some examples include cleaning products, rodent poisons and antifreeze. But you also need to be aware of common food items that may be harmful to your pet since many foods that are perfectly safe for humans, can potentially be deadly to dogs and cats.
To be safe, keep the following food items out of your pet’s menu:
- Coffee grounds
- Fatty foods
- Yeast dough
- Macadamia nuts
- Chewing gum, candy and breath fresheners containing xylitol
In addition, always keep garbage out of a pet’s reach since rotting food often contains molds or bacteria that could produce food poisoning.
If your pet’s skin or eyes are exposed to a toxic product (such as those in many cleaning products), check the product label for the instructions for people exposed to the product; if the label instructs you to wash your hands with soap and water when exposed, then wash your pet’s skin with soap and water – just make sure that you do do not get any into its eyes, mouth or nose. If the label tells you to flush the skin or eyes with water, do this for your pet as soon as possible.
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