Neuse River Golden Retiever Rescue
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Neuse River Golden Retiever Rescue

About Goldens - Medical Blog

Gracie Lou and Margaret

Your dog’s health is vital to a long-lasting quality of life. Many health-related situations may arise with your dog over the course of his/her life, requiring you to educate yourself on how best to help and what resources are available. The following articles and links are intended to help with some of these health-related issues you may face.

Adult dogs living in the southeastern U.S. are highly likely to contract heartworms from mosquitoes if the dogs are not regularly treated with heartworm prevention medication. About 15 percent of the adult dogs that come into our rescue program are found to have heartworms. Heartworm is a serious illness and can be fatal if left untreated.

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What's normal and first aid safety with Gracie Lou

by User Not Found | Jan 10, 2013

Gracie Lou is packing her backpack for our annual hiking trip to the mountains.  We generally have no cell phone signal and take upwards of 6 mile hikes each day.  Not only do we prepare for human emergencies, we equip a first aid kit for the furry emergencies too.  True emergencies are few and far between but when seconds count, I’d rather have Gracie Lou and her backpack on my side.  Most of us know what’s normal for our dogs, behavior, attitude, trips to the bathroom, and even nervous tendencies.  We notice one little change in what they “normally do” and we’re all over them watching their every move.  Most of the time this does not’t include normal physical stuff, like breathing, heart rate, temperature, etc.  When I start spiraling in to one of my “oh my gosh, something’s wrong”, checking these things and finding them to be normal definitely helps me get a grip and take a more calm approach to the situation.  So what is normal?

  1.  Breathing—you can watch a dog’s chest rise and fall for 15 seconds and count his breaths, then multiply by four.  Hopefully they can hold still for that long and hopefully you can count and watch a clock (sometimes difficult for me), but for dogs over 30 pounds, normal is about 10 to 30 breaths per minute.  After exercise, you can count pants.  Normal is up to 200 pants per minute.  Puppies are about 15 to 40 breaths per minute and up to 200 pants per minute.
  2. Heart Rate and Pulse—you might want to check this one after your dog has checked out for the day.  It’s ideal to have them in a rested state when checking his or her heart rate because you are establishing what is normal for your dog.  And if this rate falls out of the normal for your dog, it could be a sign of an emergency.  Always recheck to make sure you didn’t screw something up when you were counting first of course!   Lay them down on their right side.  When you gently pull the left elbow back toward the chest, place your palm on the chest in the place where it meets the elbow.  Count beats for 15 seconds and then multiply by 4. 

To check a pulse, lightly press two fingers on the inside of either back leg, where the leg meets the groin area and count the pulses.  This is the femoral artery (in other words it’s huge).

  1. Temperature—Did you know that a dog’s normal temperature is 100.2 F to 102.8 F?  Weird right? So don’t freak out if your dog has a temp of 103, that’s pretty normal, especially if they are over-excited or just had some exercise.  It’s best to use a pediatric digital rectal thermometer and some water-based lubricant.  You might need some assistance, most dogs shockingly don’t really enjoy this particular activity. They may jump and shout “Exit only!!”
  2. Capillary Refill Time—this is a quick assessment of blood flow to the tissues.  A prolonged CRT can give you an indication your dog may be going into or is in shock.  First let’s do it to ourselves.  Pinch your finger and then let go.  You can see it turn white and then back to pink again pretty quickly.  Now try it on your dog.  Lift his lip and press on the gum with your finger (I usually go right above the canine tooth).  You should see the white turn to pink in about 1-2 seconds.

It’s a good idea to learn how to do these things when your dog is just hanging out and most importantly when you are calm.  That way in an emergency, you can quickly assess instead of fumbling around with directions on how to do something.  There are a lot of good resources out there and even classes you can take in Doggie CPR and First Aid. 

Speaking of first aid, Gracie is packing her doggie First Aid kit to take hiking.  Here are some things that I find handy to have.

  1. Sterile Gauze—rolled, square or even better, both!
  2. Bandages—Vet Wrap is awesome.  It comes in fun colors and it sticks to itself.
  3. Diphenhydramine or (Benadryl®)—not a great idea to administer if you don’t know what you are doing, but awesome to have on hand in case the vet you call tells you to give it.
  4. Sterile Saline Solution—for flushing eyes or wounds
  5. Mild diluted Dish Soap—for cleaning wounds
  6. Panty Hose—what?  You might want to have something like this on hand in case your pup is injured badly, it can be used as a muzzle.  Hey I’d bite too.
  7. Tweezers
  8. Neosporin® or Triple Antibiotic
  9. Bandana or piece of cloth for a splint
  10. Mini LED Flashlight—You can get these at the dollar store


I’m also a big fan of paracord, an all-purpose utility cord.  Bands made of paracord can be used for just about anything in an emergency.  It’s unbreakable and 15ft of it is conveniently located in a fashionable bracelet or leash for your dog!  Thanks to Liz and Essie for their contributions to this blog and Gracie Lou says get out there and have an adventure!



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