How to Tell if Your Dog is Sick By Checking Their Vital Signs

When our dogs do not feel well, they can’t tell us what is wrong with them or why they may be in pain. In this video, Dr. Mary Beth Morgan talks about how to tell if your dog is sick and read the vital signs of a dog before calling the veterinarian.

She mentions that heart rate, temperature and respiratory rate are three very important things to monitor if you are concerned for your pet’s health.

Some of the tips she discusses are:

1. Checking the color and wetness of a dog’s gums. If the gums are a nice pink color they are okay. But if they are too red, too dark, too blue, or too white then your dog is in serious trouble.

It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with your dog’s normal gum color because every dog is a bit different and it will be easier for you to tell if there is a problem in the future.

2. Checking your dog’s pulse (and respiratory rate). You can check a dog’s pulse by placing your fingers (not your thumb) on the side of your dog’s chest and pressing your fingers against the ribs. A good place is near the elbow joint. A second place to find the pulse is high up on the inner side of the thigh (where the femoral artery is) [Eds note: Dr. Morgan incorrectly refers to it as femoral vein, but she means the artery.]

3. Checking your dog’s temperature. Using a rectal thermometer you can measure your dog’s temperature. It may be helpful to have someone assist you in doing this and be sure to sanitize and lubricate it before using. There are also ear thermometers that can be much easier to use but are not as accurate. Don’t forget that a dog’s temperature usually runs higher than a human’s (so in the range of 99 degrees to 102.7).

Of course, if you have any serious concerns about your pet’s health, consult your veterinarian immediately.

The content shared on this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a possible medical condition your pets may have.

Disclosure: This post may include affiliate links.

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