If you are a first-time dog owner and you want to make sure that you care for your canine friend as best as possible, you should do a little research on what the normal vitals for this species are. The temperature, the heart rate, the respiratory rate, as well as the pulse are the most important ones.
But there are other vitals that you can pay attention to, such as the color of the mucous membranes – making sure that you keep an eye on this can actually save a dog’s life.
Read on to find out what a dog’s normal vitals should be!
Are all vitals the same?
Before we move on to giving you the actual numbers, we have an important note to make, and it’s that the normal vitals can tend to vary a lot from one dog to the next.
Of course, the dog’s health and age make a significant difference as they can influence these measurements, but they can also vary depending on the pet’s breed, for example.
Small and large dogs have different vitals, and that’s because their metabolism can be quite different.
As you probably know, the body temperature is an important indication as to whether an animal has an infection or inflammatory process in their body, which causes their immune system to react and produce white blood cells.
A fever or any type of increase in a dog’s body temperature is a signal that their body is working toward fighting off something. Unfortunately, the body’s self-defense mechanism can also fight against the body itself, especially when it goes into a full-blown attack of whatever might be wrong.
So while a fever is a sign that your dog’s trying to get rid of something bad naturally, it can also seriously put their health and even life at risk, especially if it’s particularly high.
The normal body temperature in this species is 38.9 Celsius (102 Fahrenheit). Variations are accepted, such as within the limits of 100 and 102.5 Fahrenheit (37.8-39.2 Celsius). There are oscillations that happen at different times of the day and depending on various factors, such as the ambient temperature, the amount of exercise a dog has engaged in, whether they’ve had food or water, and more.
Hypothermia is anything below those limits (especially under 99 F), and hyperthermia is anything above those limits (especially above 103 F).
Mucous Membrane Color
The healthy color of any visible mucous membrane in dogs is pink. The easiest ones to spot are your dog’s gums and lips and your pet’s nose, but some changes can also be seen in your dog’s conjunctiva, for example, or the skin on the inside of their ears.
Pale mucous membranes can be a sign of anemia, vasoconstriction, or blood loss, where the color changes from pink or light pink to very pale pink or white.
Deep pink can be a sign of heatstroke, especially if it is associated with heavy panting and dehydration, along with confusion or convulsions.
Bright red mucous membranes could indicate fever, poisoning, or smoke inhalation, or other health issues such as severe infections.
Purple, blue, orange, or yellow, are color changes that should immediately convince you to seek out veterinary assistance. Blue can mean a severe lack of oxygen while yellow or orange can mean jaundice (a severe hepatic condition) or a red blood cell disorder.
When it comes to a dog’s heart rate, here, too, there are some variations to consider. The dog’s age and size play are the two most significant factors that influence the heart rate. For instance, small-sized breeds and puppies can have a heart rate between 120 and 160 beats per minute.
Their adult and larger counterparts (especially pets weighing more than 30 pounds) can have a normal heart rate of 60 to 120 beats per minute.
For this reason, the normal limits for the heart rate of dogs, in general, are considered 60-70 to 120 beats per minute. However, the vet and the pet owner need to take the previously mentioned factors into account before deciding on taking any measures.
Your canine friend’s heart rate can vary depending on whether or not they have a fever, if they’re suffering from heatstroke, if they are experiencing any form of blood loss, or if they are dehydrated. Extreme agitation or stress can also lead to a heart rate increase.
When it comes to this normal vital, there are also differences from one animal to the next. While ideally, your pet should take 18 to 34 breaths per minute when they are resting, there are many factors that influence the respiratory rate, including disease.
If they’ve engaged in strenuous exercise and they haven’t had the chance to calm down, dogs might have a respiratory rate of up to 200 breaths per minute. If you are feeling worried about how fast or slow your dog is breathing, just measure the number of breaths either for a whole minute or do that for 10 seconds and multiply the number by 6.
Normal breathing means that your dog does not have any nasal or oral discharge, doesn’t make any particular sounds (whether that be wheezing or anything else) while breathing, or doesn’t have to make a lot of effort to be able to inhale and exhale. If anything seems abnormal in this respect, make sure you take your dog to the veterinary clinic as soon as possible.