Save a Life: Learn How to Detect Your Dogs Vital Signs

Ask Dr. Carol, Cats, Dogs, Emergencies, General Health No Comments »

Being able to accurately detect and determined your dog’s vital signs can make the difference between life and death!

Dog Vitals

Your dog’s heart health is not only vital to your pet’s life, but it also directly affects your dog’s life span, daily quality of life and overall longevity.

Boost your Dog’s Heart Health IQ by learning how to detect your dogs vital signs… it might just save your best friends life!

To begin, familiarize your-self with your dog’s normal vital statistics so that once you are familiar with what is normal, you will be able to detect and identify abnormalities that much more quickly and address them with your veterinarian.

Normal Dog Heart Rate in beats per minute (bpm): your dog’s average heart rate is based on the size and/or age of your canine.
Puppies, up to 6 weeks: up to 200 bpm
Small dogs, up to 20lb (9.07kg): 70 – 180 bpm
Medium & large dogs: 60 – 140 bpm
Dog Body Temperatures
Your dog’s normal rectal temperature is 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures from 99 to 103 degrees Fahrenheit are usually considered to be within the normal range.

Temperatures below 96 Fahrenheit or above 106 Fahrenheit are considered critical.

Pet owners should see their vet ASAP as these temperature extremes may be life threatening and are emergencies.


Dog Oral Mucous Membrane Colors (Gum Color)
Veterinarians use the color of the mucus membranes to get an immediate measure of your pet’s hydration level.

While this is not specifically a scientific measurement of pet health, the color of your dog’s gums can help to identify that a problem exists.

Normally your dog’s gum color should be light pink, which is normal.
Gums pale to white in color indicate a lack of red blood cells referred to as anemia which can lead to shock. Pet owners need to address this with their vet immediately.
A bluish gum color is a sign of smoke inhalation or suffocation. This is an emergency!
Bright cherry red gum color is a sign of carbon monoxide poisoning or heatstroke. Both are emergencies and require veterinary care ASAP!
Liver problems may be revealed by a yellowish tint to the gums which is called jaundice. This requires immediate attention from your vet.
Canine Capillary Refill Time
Capillaries are minute blood vessels that lie near the surface of the skin. They are easiest to observe in your pet’s gums, above the upper teeth.


You can judge the condition of your pet’s blood circulation by performing a capillary refill test.
To Perform a Capillary Refill Test on your dog:

1. Lift your pet’s upper lip, then press the flat part of your index finger against the non-pigmented (no color) pink gum tissue

2. Quickly release the pressure and use the second hand of a watch to count the time it takes for the gum color to return to normal in the area.

This is your dog’s capillary refill time.
Canine Capillary Refill Time
If less than 1 second this is an emergency. It may indicate shock or heatstroke.
If 1 – 2 seconds, this is normal.
If 2 – 4 seconds, this is poor and may signal pending dehydration or shock.
If over 4 seconds, this indicates a severe problem such as dehydration and/or shock; this requires a trip to the emergency vet.
Monitoring Your Dogs Breathing
When your dog is at rest, anything other than quiet, effortless breathing may require medical attention and possibly artificial respiration.

Effortless breathing, quiet to soundless is normal.

Increased respiratory rate may indicate initial signs of a breathing problem. Call the vet if this if the breathing rate seems to be getting worse.

Excessive panting or gasping is a critical sign of pending respiratory failure. Dogs usually stand with their elbows pointed outward as they try to get oxygen.

Cats often sit crouched with their head and neck extended. This is an emergency and requires immediate attention from your vet.

Labored, open-mouthed breathing with bluish colored gums usually signals suffocation and pulmonary failure. See your vet ASAP!

Slowed, shallow breathing or no breathing signals unconsciousness and respiratory collapse. This is critical, see your vet immediately and prepare for artificial respiration.

Dog Mental Alertness/Responsiveness/ Level of Consciousness
Healthy pets are alert and normally respond to whatever is currently happening in their surroundings.

If there is a problem, the level of your dog’s responsiveness will help you to determine the severity of the condition.

Dogs are normally alert, responsive to their owner as well as to the environment.

For example, if you call your pet for a treat, your dog should respond by coming to you.

Dogs with depressed responses may indicate your dog is sleepy and/or arthritic and reluctant to move.

This is common to many canine illnesses and if this continues for over 24 hours visit your vet.

If your dog is disoriented and/or bumps into objects, stares blindly at the walls, walks in circles, and/or falls over to one side, this is cause for alarm. This may signal a neurologic problem or an inner ear issues causing a loss of balance. See your vet ASAP!

Dogs in a stupor that can only be aroused only by deep pain stimulation, for example by pinching the toe, are not normal. This often indicates a serious neurologic or other internal health disorder which should be addressed with your vet immediately.

Dogs that are comatose, unable to wake up or are having epileptic seizures require immediate attention. This is a true emergency indicating severe neurologic damage or disruption from an injury, a disease, or a toxin. See your vet ASAP!

Holistic Veterinarian Dr. Carol Osborne, DVM

About Dr. Carol

Dr. Carol is a pet health researcher, a Board Certified Anti-Aging Health Diplomat, a published author and a practicing, integrative veterinarian in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. She welcomes new canine and feline patients.

Dr. Carol also offers pet health consultations and answers pet health questions and creates homemade pet diets by phone and e-mail for her online pet loving community.

Pet owners may contact Dr. Carol directly at her veterinary office toll free at 1-866-372-2765 to make an appointment for their dog(s) and/or cat(s) today.

Bookmark for the latest pet health news, anti-aging tips and updates for your dogs and cats.   – See more at:

How to Detect and Manage Dog Bloat

Ask Dr. Carol, Dogs, Emergencies, The Digestive System No Comments »

Dog Bloat is also referred to as Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus, stomach torsion and twisted stomach.

This is a true life threatening situation usually affecting deep chested, large breed dogs. After eating, the stomach fills with gas and dogs appear to be bloated. The bloated stomach may or may not turn over or twist upon itself blocking the entrance to and the exit from the stomach.

Once the stomach is twisted it puts pressure on the veins in the abdomen which reduces blood flow. Without emergency treatment, shock ensues, which can lead to death within a matter of hours. With emergency canine surgery nearly 50 percent of cases involving a twisted stomach are still fatal.

Causes of Dog Bloat

Although the exact cause remains unknown, predisposing risk factors for dog bloat remain clear.

Large breed, deep chested, middle age dogs are at highest risk based on their anatomy.

Eating quickly

Eating one large meal daily

Dry food only diet

Exercise after eating

Fearful temperament

Easily stressed

Abnormal stomach motility

Signs of Dog Bloat


*Attempts to belch or vomit at 5-30 minute intervals. This is the hallmark sign.

Distended Abdomen

Retching with no results

Salivating excessively


Rapid, Shallow Breathing

Pale gums

Rapid heart rate



Dog Breeds at High Risk: Breeds with the highest chest depth to width ratio are most prone.

Great Danes


German Shepherds

Irish Setters

Gordon Setters

Standard Poodles


Saint Bernard’s

What Your Vet Can do for Dog Bloat

Generally based on signs and history, most vets vet will immediately attempt to pass a stomach tube down your dog’s esophagus. If the stomach is filled with gas but not twisted, gas and fluid will be released through the stomach tube which will relieve the problem completely.

If the stomach tube will not properly pass, then your vet may take an x-ray of your dogs abdomen to validate the stomach twist then prepare for emergency surgery.

The vet will untwist the stomach and in most cases to try to prevent the twist from recurring by tacking or suturing a piece of the stomach to the abdominal wall. This procedure is called a Gastropexy.

What Pet Owners Can do to Prevent Dog Bloat

Feed your dog several small meals daily and avoid feeding once a day large meals to help slow down your dogs eating time

Consider an Iakiou Slow Dog Bowl designed specifically to slow down canine eating time 

Feed 2-3 small meals daily

Avoid water one hour before and after meals

Do not feed your dog using a raised bowl unless advised to do so by your vet

Avoid dry food only diets as most are high ingrain which increases gas production in the stomach

Provide fresh water at all times to discourage gulping water

Add a little canned food to your dog’s diet. Canned food tends to be higher in meat than dry food and less likely to contribute to gas formation.

Choose a dry dog food that lists meat as the first ingredient and has no carbohydrates listed in the top 4 ingredients.

Do not allow your dog to run or exercise one hour before or after meals.

Feed a high quality protein diet

Reduce carbohydrates as much as possible to help avoid excessive gas formation. Remember dog treats and biscuits are generally very high in carbohydrates

Feed at least three percent fiber or add fresh vegetable to your dog’s diet as a source of fiber

Be sure you add comprehensive canine digestive enzymes to your dog’s diet

Avoid Brewer’s yeast, alfalfa and soybean products

Promote friendly bacteria in your dog’s intestine’s by adding a daily canine probiotic supplement for example, acidophilus and/ or lactobacillus.

TIP: By adding probiotics you are helping to avoid carbohydrate fermentation which once again leads to gas formation. This is especially important for dogs on antibiotics.

TIP: Antibiotics tend to reduce levels of “friendly bacteria” in your dog’s intestines so if your dog needs both be sure to give canine probiotics at least a few hours apart from the antibiotics so they will not be destroyed.

Most importantly really get to know your dog as well as possible so you are able to distinguish normal from abnormal and can detect medical problems quickly.

Pet Home Remedies for Canine Gas Relief

Keep a product with Simethicone on hand. For example Mylanta Gas, Phazyme or Gas X. TIP: Mylanta is not the same as Mylanta Gas.

If you see your dog’s stomach distending and are able to help reduce or slow down the rate of gas you will likely buy yourself a bit more time to get to your vet.

Some vets recommend giving Simethicone immediately if your dog burps more than once or shows other signs of excess gas.

Spices for Canine Gas Relief: Nutmeg dosed at one-half teaspoon and given by mouth

Homeopathic Dog Gas Relief Remedy: Nux mochata 30X

About Dr. Carol

Dr. Carol is a pet health researcher, a Board Certified Anti-Aging Pet Health Diplomat, a published author and a practicing, holistic veterinarian in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.

She welcomes new canine and feline patients.

Dr. Carol also offers pet health consultations and answers pet health questions and makes homemade pet diets by phone and e-mail for her online pet loving community.

Pet owners may contact Dr. Carol directly at her veterinary office toll free at 1-866-372-2765 to make an appointment for their dog(s) and/or cat(s) today.

Bookmark for the latest pet health news, anti-aging tips and updates for your dogs and cats










Protect Your Pets From Heatstroke

Cats, Dogs, Emergencies, Pet Travel Tips No Comments »

Many areas of the country are already experiencing higher than average temperatures, and summer hasn’t arrived yet. It’s not usual for pet owners to take their four-legged friends on outings during the spring months, but it is important to understand that heat stroke in your pet can occur in relatively mild outdoor temperatures if precautions aren’t taken. For example, combining a fun outing with your dog with a couple of stops at the store, post office, and dropping off dry cleaning may seem like a wonderful way to accomplish your tasks and still have fun with your pet. The problem with this scenario lies in the fact that unless each of your stops is pet-friendly, you put your pet in danger of heatstroke.

Temperatures inside a vehicle climb quickly, and your pet can be in serious danger being left inside your car even if it is only 85 degrees outside. The temperature inside a vehicle can climb to 120 degrees within 20 minutes when temperatures reach 80 degrees outdoors. Leaving windows cracked for ventilation can help to some degree, but when the air is especially humid and there is no breeze flowing through the cracked windows, you’ve not provided much relief for your pet.

Symptoms of heat stroke in your dog can include:
* Open mouth
* Panting
* Bright red gums
* Excessive drooling
* Unsteady gait

Dog breeds with flat faces are more susceptible to heat stroke than other breeds, as are young pups and older dogs.

If you believe your dog is suffering from a  heat stroke, bringing down his internal body temperature is imperative to saving your dog’s life. Bring your dog inside to a cool area immediately should you begin to notice heat stroke symptoms. Cool your dog down by soaking him in cool or lukewarm water. Offer him water to drink, but do not attempt to force feed the water. Take your dog’s temperature rectally. A dog’s normal temperature is 101.5 degrees. Brain damage can occur when the body temperature reaches 106 degrees. Continue to monitor your dog’s temperature every ten minutes. Do not remove him from the cool water bath until his body temperature has dropped to 103 degrees.

If your dog’s temperature rises while in the cool water, or if he acts differently once his body temperature has returned to normal, seek the advice of an emergency veterinary clinic. It is always advisable to have your pet checked out by his normal veterinarian if you are concerned that he or she has suffered a heat stroke.

Remember, the warmer temperatures will require extra hydration for your pet. Always keep plenty of fresh water available, whether at home or away from home for the day. If your pet frequently takes trips with you – even short trips – it’s advisable to keep an extra water bowl in your vehicle and always bring along extra water for your pets.

To learn more about heat stroke in dogs, visit Veterinarian and author, Dr. Carol Osborne, DVM is available for pet health consultations for dogs and cats.

Call Dr. Carol’s veterinary office toll free at 1-866-372-2765.

Blind Dogs Cured with SARDS!!

Ask Dr. Carol, Dogs, Emergencies, Pet News, The Eyes 13 Comments »

Blindness cured with a shot is now a reality for pet owners whose dogs have suddenly gone blind due to a disease called SARDS.

Within the last 60 days, two blind dogs can now see! SARDS stands for an eye disease called sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome.

The SARDS research team led by Iowa State University veterinary ophthalmologist, Dr. Sinisa Grozdanic, DVM., in the College of Veterinary Medicine is responsible.

This is the first time  that blindness in dogs caused by SARDS has been reversed successfully and all with just a few injections performed for a nominal fee. The treatment restored sight to two dogs that were treated this April, 2010.

The therapy consists of injecting a substance called immunoglobulin (IVIg), which is a blood product from people that contains antibodies.  This immunoglobulin has also been used to treat various immune disorders, inflammatory diseases and autoimmune problems in people.

SARDS was first detected about 20 years ago and blinds nearly 4,000 dogs each year in the US. The dogs have a sudden loss of vision with no apparent cause or warning signs. The affected dogs eyes look normal, but their retinas have no electrical activity, which is how the diagnosis is made.

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Pet New Year Health Tips: Toxic Plants & Medications to Avoid

Ask Dr. Carol, Cats, Dogs, Emergencies, First Aid, First Aid, General Health, General Health, Pet Holiday Safety Tips 1 Comment »

Last year nearly 150,000 cases of pet poisoning and pet toxicities were reported for dogs and cats. To help ensure pets and their people enjoy a safe, healthy holiday this New Year here are a few safety tips to boost your pet health holiday IQ.

Plants and Medications to avoid with Dogs and Cats.

Holiday Plants are actually more of a problem with cats than with dogs, although curious puppies often enjoy a nibble.

Dr. Carol’s TIP: place plants up out of paw reach or consider safe alternatives like artificial arrangements made from silk.

Lilly’s are lovely but many varieties: Tiger, Asian, Japanese Show, Stargazer and Casa Blanca can cause kidney failure in cats

Poinsettia’s are often talked about, but are very overrated. At worst they can cause an upset stomach in dogs and cats.
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Pet Disaster Victims Find New Relief

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Pet Rescuers Target Natural Disasters


When wildfires ravaged the West Coast, animals rescuers are on the spot leading horses and livestock to safety. When floods drown the Midwest, they are there rescuing pets and finding temporary shelters for them. When hurricanes and tornado’s devastate entire communities, once again they appear to provide relief and rescue. “They” are the thousands of volunteers who put aside their jobs and family to help save pets and other animals when disaster strikes.

Dog in Torando Disaster

Although pet loving volunteers are generally available to provide relief, the flurry of storms and wildfires have taught us that disaster responders and temporary shelters are often unprepared to cope with both people AND their pets. Many animal welfare groups and official Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams (VMAT’s) are available to lend aid, but coordinated efforts with authorities is often lacking.
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Stop, Drop and Roll Over? Fire Safety for Pets

Ask Dr. Carol, Cats, Dogs, Emergencies, First Aid, First Aid, General Health, General Health 2 Comments »

House on fire

Each year in the United States, thousands of people lose their lives to fire. Tens of thousands are injured and the financial costs can reach into the billions of dollars. Almost forgotten in these tragedies are the hundreds of thousands of family pets who suffer death or injury as well.

Fires are very scary! We use controlled fires to heat our water, cook our meals and power our cities, but for most people, fire is a wild, ravaging beast. And, despite educational programs that start in pre-school, every year more than three thousand people die in house fires. Sadly, those who survive a house fire often lose cherished four-legged family members to the smoke and flames.

puppy with oxygen mask

According to the US Fire Administration’s website more than 1.7 million uncontrolled fires occur annually in the US. The Fire Administration does not keep tally, but other groups have estimated that more than 500,000 pets are killed by house fires each year. Why we are so good at saving human lives, yet our pets seem to perish?

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Dr. Carol’s Top 10 List for Pet Broken Bones

Ask Dr. Carol, Avoiding Disease, Cats, Dogs, Emergencies, First Aid, Hit By Car, PAAWS Success Stories, Pet Holiday Safety Tips, Pet News, The Head 5 Comments »

Although automobile accidents are the number one cause of broken bones in pets, surprisingly enough the second most common cause of fractures in pets is furniture in your home. Pets jump or fall from, for example, your couch or bed and break a bone.

A recent survey of pet fractures sums up the most common ways, from which broken bones in pets result. In 2008, hit by cars topped the list, followed by accidents in which pets fell or jumped, primarily from everyday household furniture.


Top 10 Ways Pets Break Bones

1. Hit by Car
2. Jumping
3. Falling
4. Fighting With Other Pets or Animals
5. Running and Slipping
6. Being Hit or Struck With an Object
7. Getting Caught in or Between an Object
8. Running into Object
9. Getting Stepped On
10. Being Injured in a Car Accident
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What Pet Owners Should Know About Broken Bones

Ask Dr. Carol, Broken Bones, Cats, Dogs, Emergencies, First Aid, Pet News 1 Comment »

“80 Percent of all pet hospital visits are because of broken bones! Simple surgeries can cost up to $5,000 with complications.”

We will be discussing these issues and more on my free Broken Bone Advice teleconference on the 30th. Sign up at

If you suspect that your pet may have broken or fractured a bone, the first thing that you should do is try to keep your pet calm. If he’s nervous, wrap him in a blanket. Put him in your car and take him to your veterinarian. If it’s after hours, you want to take your pet to the nearest emergency facility.

Number two: Once you’re at the vet, the veterinarian should examine the dog. If there is a suspicion of a fracture, they should take x-rays. Any area of the body that’s x-rayed needs to have two views. And most modern veterinary clinics have their x-rays set up so that the owner can receive a copy of their x-rays on a CD. What’s nice about that is that by having that information, you can also share that information and get second opinions if necessary as well as use that information to compare it to postoperative x-rays and healing x-rays to be sure that your pet’s fracture is completely healed.

Once the veterinarian has determined that there is, indeed, a fracture, it’s important to ask your vet to clearly show you the fracture on the x-ray and it’s important for you to understand what type of a fracture it is. Is it a simple fracture, where the bones are not displaced but there is a crack in the bone? Is it a fracture where the bones are displaced, or is it a very complicated fracture where not only are the bones displaced but there are various pieces of bone that need to be put back together?

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Dr. Carol’s Easter Time Safety Tips for Pets

Ask Dr. Carol, Avoiding Disease, Cats, Dogs, Emergencies, PAAWS Success Stories, Pet Holiday Safety Tips No Comments »

pup n bunny

For most of us the holidays are a time to eat, drink and enjoy good friends and family. Pet expert, veterinarian and author, Dr Carol Osborne, DVM helps pet owners refresh their pet health IQ and offers some helpful hints so the traditions are as joyous for you as they are for your pets.

Pet Holiday Safety Basics

Be sure your dog and cat are healthy, has his or her Identification tags and collar. Take a few safety precautions and use lots of every day common sense!

Try decorating your home according to the age, activity level and temperament of your pets and children. If they are young and active, consider homemade expendable ornaments. These are also a great, safe and fun family project.

Holidays are hectic for all of us and that means stress for pets! To minimize your pets stress try to keep your pets diet, snacks and routine as close to normal as possible. Be sure your pet has a quiet place to go so he or she can relax when he’s had enough. This helps avoid behavioral problems especially with children.

Herbal Stress Remedy: 5 Flower Remedy Flowers/Bach’s Rescue Remedy is wonderful, effective and very safe for dogs, cats and people. Place a few drops in your pet’s mouth, food or water bowl to relieve stress and anxiety.
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