Normal Vital Signs In Dogs
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A Dog’s vital signs include temperature, respiratory rate and heart rate. Dog vital signs are also commonly referred to as dog tpr (temperature, pulse and respiratory rate). These canine vital signs helps us identify whether or not our dog is healthy or suffering from an underlying illness. If you are a dog owner, it’s very important that you know how to understand your pet’s vital signs. For example, what is a normal dog respiratory rate? Or is your dog’s temperature too high or low?
For more about normal vital signs in dogs, keep reading here at AnimalWised. In addition, we will be examining data of canine physiology so that we can compare these stats depending on the breed, age and size of your dog.
Normal dog temperature
So what is normal dog temperature? In an adult dog the temperature oscillates between 37.8 and 39.2 ºC, with the average being around 38.5º. Therefore, if your dog has a temperature higher than that indicated, it is suffering from a fever. Fever in dogs is usually accompanied by other symptoms. Symptoms of fever in dogs include:
- Reddened eyes.
- Possible difficulty sleeping.
- Dry nose.
- Decrease in appetite.
If you notice any of these above mentioned symptoms, we recommend consulting a veterinarian as soon as possible. For more, read our article about fever in dogs - symptoms and treatment. A veterinarian will treat this fever according to its diagnosis.
Remember that both a high and low temperature in dogs is cause for concern. If your dog is suffering from hypothermia, treatment is necessary. Hypothermia in dogs varies in severity. If the hypothermia is mild, your dog may shows symptoms of weakness, lack of concentration and shivering. If however, the hypothermia is more severe, your dog will struggle breathing, suffer from low blood pressure and experience difficulty moving. For more, read about hypothermia in dogs.
Temperature levels are particularly important when caring for puppies. Monitoring your puppy’s temperature is vital! This is because during a puppy’s first few weeks of life, it cannot regulate its own body temperature. Therefore, if a puppy’s temperature is above or below the norm, consult your veterinarian immediately to avoid severe illness or possible death. Average puppy temperature ranges between 34.4 and 36.1 ºC. After about one month of life, this temperature should reach 37.8º, like adult dogs.
How to take a dog's temperature?
A dog’s temperature is taken rectally. Here are some tips to take into consideration when taking your dog’s temperature:
- Make sure your thermometer is made of a material safe for dogs.
- Ask for help. Your dog may move and feel uncomfortable, therefore, you will need someone to hold and calm your dog while you take its temperature.
- Choose an appropriate time to take your dog’s temperature. Preferably when its laying down and more relaxed.
- Add some Vaseline as lubricant onto the thermometer beforehand to make this experience less uncomfortable for your dog.
- Insert the thermometer at least 2cm (0.7in) inward.
- Once the thermometer is removed, make sure to clean it well with ethyl alcohol to disinfect it.
Dog vital signs: dog pulse rate
So, what is a normal dog heart rate? A dog’s normal heart rate should oscillate between 60 and 160 beats per minute. But, if the dog is small, normal pulsations can reach up to 180. In larger dogs, this rhythm may be somewhat slower.
In newborn puppies pulsations are even higher, able to reach between 160 and 200. With around fifteen days of life, it is not strange that a puppy’s pulsations reach 220 per minute, it’s normal.
Taking a dog’s pulse
So, how can you check a dog’s heart rate at home? You can take your dog’s pulse by pressing on its femoral artery which passes through the groin. We recommend that your dog lies down on its back when you do this. You can look for this artery by palpating the inside of your dog’s thigh, along the junction between the leg and the body.
Once you’ve found the correct artery, you can establish the heart rate by counting the number of beats per minute. There are two possible alterations to this rhythm, tachycardia (dog heart rate fast) or bradycardia (dog slow heart rate). Both of these alterations require veterinary attention.
We’ve also attached this video below so that you can see exactly how a dog’s pulse is taken:
Dog vital signs: dog respiratory rate
Last but not least, we’ll be analyzing a dog’s respiratory rate. In an adult dog normal breathing is, on average, 24 breaths per minute (when the dog is at rest). At times, there may be a possible variation of between 10 and 30. In the first weeks of a puppy’s life, a normal puppy respiratory rate is between 15 and 35 breaths per minute.
As we already mentioned in the dog pulse rate section, there are two alterations to dog respiratory rate, accelerated breathing in dogs (tachypnea) or slow breathing in dogs (bradypnea). Is your dog breathing very fast or slow? If this is the case, we recommend consulting a veterinarian as soon as possible. For more, read our article where we discuss everything you need to know about dog breathing difficulties.
Normal vital signs in dogs: gestation
We cannot forget to mention the importance of gestation when discussing the normal vital signs of a dog. Normal canine gestation should last, on average, 63 days. This gestation can also vary between 58-68 days.
For more, read our article where we look dog pregnancy - week by week.
This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to Normal Vital Signs In Dogs, we recommend you visit our Prevention category.