Canine First Aid – Conduct a Dog “Head to Toe” Exam – Part II

Conducting a periodic dog head to toe examination is crucial to your pet’s health. Because your dog can not speak, you need to keep an eye on its medical condition. Medical people call this monitoring your dogs ‘signs’ and ‘symptoms’.

You can locate a pulse area for your dog just inside the crease of the hind leg where it joins the abdomen. Count the beats for 15 seconds. If you multiply by 4, that will give you the number of beats per minute.

A large dog normally has a resting heart rate of about 60 – 90 beats per minute and a medium sized dog about 70 – 110. Expect small dogs to have a heart rate in the range of 90 – 120 beats. The reason why I mention ‘a resting heart rate’ is to remind you that exercise or running will elevate the heart rate and give you an artificially elevated reading.

The Manual Dog First Aid Examination

Now that we have examined the airway, breathing and circulation and ruled out any need for emergency intervention, we can casually do a head to toe manual dog examination. (NOTE: Any Airway, Breathing or Circulation type of problem will require emergency intervention, a call to a Pet Ambulance, or an immediate trip to an animal hospital or Vet clinic).

Exam Your Dogs Head

I like to start at a dogs head and work toward’ s the rear. Look at your dogs eyes. They should be bright and clear. There should be no evidence of pus or greenish-yellow discharge or excessive tearing – any of which may indicate an infection.

Palpate (or feel) the head and feel for any bumps or tender areas. Look at the nose. It should not be runny or have any discharges.

(Do not forget to praise your dog for their co-operation).

Drop down to your dogs teeth and gums. The teeth should be clean, with no chips or breaks. The gums should be a healthy looking pink color and the breath should not be overly fowl smelling.

Congratulations. You have just conducted some of the necessary parts of a successful dog head to toe examination.