May 2021
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How to Examine Your Dog for Illness

Too often a pet’s illness goes undetected until it gets to a critical point then you have rush vet visits and bills and treatments. If you take the time to perform weekly home examinations on your pet and learn what to look for, you may be able to detect potential problems early enough to take care of them before they get to a critical point. It’s not that difficult if you follow some basic guidelines.

There is much when it comes to your pet’s health that you can not only check, but treat at home. Armed with the proper knowledge there are many home and natural remedies that you can employ to care for your pet.

Get comfortable in examining your pet. He should be fine with letting you put your fingers in his mouth or brushing his hair to feel for lumps. The first thing that you have to be familiar with is what is normal.

Vital Statistics: Pulse and Heart Rate

Normal resting rates:
Cats: 150-200 bpm
Small dogs: 90-120 bpm
Medium dogs: 70-110 bpm
Large dogs: 60-90 bpm

Pulse should be strong, regular and easy to locate.

Checking the pulse

The easiest place to locate a pulse is the femoral artery in the groin area. Place your fingers on the inside of the hind leg and slide your hand upward until the back of your fingers touches the abdomen. Gently move your fingers back and forth on the inside of the hind leg until you feel the pulsing blood.

Count the number of pulses in 15 seconds and multiply that number by 4. This will give you the beats per minute (bpm).


A normal dog’s temperature is 101 F (38.0 C), and a normal cat’s temperature is 102 F (38.5 C). Taking your pet’s temperature involves placing a thermometer in their rectum. If your pet has a temperature of 103.5 F (39.5 C) or more, they have a fever.

Thermometer should be almost clean when removed. Abnormalities are indicated by blood, diarrhoea, or black, tarry stool.

Your dog is your best friend and cannot tell you when they feel ill. If you stick to the above this will help you to determine if your dog is unwell at the earliest stages.

About Author
Terry Metcalfe writing on behalf of London vets – Streathhill Veterinary Surgery.

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