Keeping track of your dog’s vital signs is crucial to their overall health. Just like humans, dogs have “vital signs” that provide a baseline for their overall well-being. Veterinarians rely on vital signs to evaluate a dog’s health and determine if they need veterinary care. It’s essential for dog owners to know their dog’s vital signs so that they can take necessary action when needed. In this article, we discuss the vital signs of dogs, how to check your dog’s respiratory rate, how to differentiate normal breathing from panting, and when heavy panting becomes a cause for concern.
What Are the Vital Signs of Dogs?
There are four vital signs that veterinarians use to evaluate a dog’s health when they’re undergoing veterinary care. These include the following:
1. Body temperature: The normal body temperature for dogs is between 101.5 to 102.5 ℉. In most cases, a body temperature above 102.5 ℉ could signal an infection or fever.
2. Heart rate: The normal heart rate for small breed dogs is between 100 to 140 beats per minute (bpm), while medium to large breed dogs should have a heart rate between 60 to 100 bmp.
3. Respiratory rate: A healthy dog’s respiratory rate should be between 15 to 30 breaths per minute (bpm).
4. Mucous membrane color: A healthy dog’s gums should have a light pink color.
How to Check Your Dog’s Respiratory Rate?
Checking your dog’s respiratory rate is imperative to determine if they’re experiencing breathing difficulties. Here are the steps you can follow to determine your dog’s respiratory rate:
1. Check your dog’s respiratory rate when they’re resting or sleeping.
2. Use a digital timer or stopwatch to set the timer to 60 seconds.
3. Watch your dog’s chest rise and fall with each breath.
4. Start the timer and count each breath until the timer goes off at 60 seconds.
5. A healthy dog’s respiratory rate should be between 15 to 30 breaths per minute (bpm).
Panting Vs. Breathing in Dogs
Panting is not the same as a dog’s respiratory rate, although it serves the same purpose. Panting is a type of breathing, and it helps dogs take in oxygen. Heavy panting, on the other hand, is usually a sign that your dog is in distress or experiencing breathing difficulties.
When Is Heavy Panting a Problem for a Dog?
Dogs pant for many reasons; it’s usually a sign of excitement, exercise, or hot weather. However, heavy panting could indicate an underlying health problem. Here are some reasons why your dog might be panting heavily:
1. Chronic illness: Chronic diseases like respiratory disorders, Cushing’s disease, and congestive heart failure could cause heavy breathing or panting in dogs.
2. Trauma: Dogs that have been injured or severely traumatized might pant heavily, which is a sign they’re in pain.
3. Heatstroke: Heatstroke occurs when a dog’s body temperature rises dangerously high. Dogs suffering from heatstroke might pant heavily, drool excessively, have glassy eyes, and a faster-than-normal heart rate.
If you notice that your dog is panting heavily or showing any other signs of distress, take them to the vet immediately.
As a dog owner, it’s your responsibility to monitor your dog’s health regularly. Knowing your dog’s vital signs helps you notice potential health problems early, and it could save their life. Ensure that you know what’s normal for your dog and how to differentiate normal breathing from panting. If your dog is panting heavily or showing any signs of distress, take them to the vet immediately. Remember, early detection is key to ensuring your dog lives a healthy life.