Our dogs depend on us to take good care of them so we want to make sure our dogs are in good health.  They can’t take care of themselves so it is important that you know when your dog is sick and if he is sick enough to go to the vet.  A lot of us have been taught that if your dog’s nose isn’t cold and moist he is sick.  While it may be true that if your dog’s nose is dry and warm he may be sick, it doesn’t mean that every time your dog’s nose is dry and warm he is sick.  A dog’s nose moisture will come and go based on the outside humidity, outside dryness, and your dog’s tear production.

Loss of appetite is probably the number one clue to telling if your dog is sick.  If their appetite is dropping or if they aren’t eating something is wrong.  Another clue is their demeanor.  Are they lethargic?  Do they just want to lay around and not do a whole lot?  Not drinking would be another clue.  Of course, if there is vomiting or diarrhea there is most likely something wrong with your dog and you need to have him checked out.

Heart rate, temperature, respiratory rate, and the color of your dog’s gums are other factors in telling if your dog is sick or not.  To check your dog’s gums, lift his lip and look to see what the color is under his lip and above his teeth.  If it is a nice pink color then your dog is probably okay.  If it is too dark, too red, brick red, or too white then your dog is probably in serious trouble.  To check his pulse place your hand against the side of your dog’s chest right behind his elbow.  Press your fingers against his ribs and you should feel a heartbeat.  Count the heartbeat for fifteen seconds and multiply it by four.  A typical dog’s heart rate is about 120 beats/minute.  If a dog is running a fever, very often their ears will feel hot on the inside where there isn’t any hair.  If you think your dog is running a fever, you can take his temperature.  A dog’s temperature is taken in his anus.  Make sure you put vaseline or ky-jelly on the tip of the thermometer.  Barely put the thermometer in his bottom.  You don’t have to stick it in very far.  The average body temperature of a dog is 101.2 degrees.

Dog Health
photo credit: Big C Harvey

If your dog is sick or in pain do not use common household painkillers such as ibuprofen.  Ibuprofen can cause stomach ulcers and is one of the leading causes of poisoning from over-the-counter drugs in dogs.  Aspirin can be prescribed for your dog to relieve pain and inflammation but your veterinarian needs to calculate the correct dosage.  Overdoses of aspirin can cause vomiting, respiratory problems, and even death.

You might want to put together a doggy first aid kit for emergencies you might have at home.  Items to include:

Toenail ClippersRegular ScissorsBandage ScissorsTelfa Pads RegularGauze Vet WrapWhite Athletic TapeSomething to Stop Bleeding – Styptic Powder or Styptic Sticks

Dog Ear Wash

KY-Jelly Antibiotic Ointment

Ear Ointment

Antibacterial Cleansing Soap

Socks – Used to put over a wound or bandage to keep the dog from chewing on it



I have talked about being able to tell if your dog is sick or not, but how can you tell if your dog is healthy?  There are some easy things you can do to tell if you have a healthy dog!  First of all, check your dog’s coat.  Does your dog’s coat look shiny?  Is it clean and does it smell fresh?  Your dog’s skin should not be flaky, red or infected.  Your dog should have straight white teeth.  Stained teeth or teeth covered with plaque can affect your dog’s health.  Your dog’s tongue and and gums should be a nice shade of pink.  Your dog’s ears should be clean inside and his eyes should be clear and bright.

You should check your dog’s skin for lumps regularly.  If you check for lumps on a regular basis you should be able to tell if any new lumps appear.  You should also check his ears on a regular basis for ear infections.  Of course, if your dog is scratching his ears more than usual he probably has an ear infection.

It is important that your dog has a safe, clean and sheltered place to sleep at night.  Make sure his kennel and bedding are free of fleas.  It it is hot outside, make sure he has plenty of fresh water and shade.  If it is cold outside, make sure he has a dog house or somewhere that he can be protected from the elements.

Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise.  Take him for a long walk or throw a ball for him to chase.  Dog parks are awesome places to take your dog because they can run and socialize with other dogs.

Your dog needs to be taken to the vet once a year for his vaccinations.  It is important to keep his vaccinations up-to-date.

As said before, your dog depends on you to take care of him.  Your dog also depends on you for companionship.  Take good care of him and he will be your best friend forever!

Dog Bones

How to Protect Your Dog in the Event of a Fire

Protect Your Dog in the Event of a Fire

No one likes to think of the possibility of a home fire. Nevertheless, the tips below can help you plan for the safe evacuation of your companion animals in the event of a fire.

  • The best insurance for your and your dog’s survival of a home fire is working smoke alarms. Install them outside the sleeping areas, on each level of the home, and in the main living areas. Twice a year, put new batteries in them.
  • Your dog may alert you to a fire even before the smoke alarms sound. If your dog awakens you acting strangely, get up and investigate. Maybe it’s just a cricket that’s invaded his territory, but, then again, it may be smoke or fire.
  • Know where your dog hangs out, sleeps, or hides when scared. When you create a family fire escape plan, assign the person nearest each of those spots to check one of these spots on his way out of the house. Practice the family escape plan with your pets. Push the test button on the smoke alarm at the start of the practice, so your pet associates going outside with the alarm sound.
  • In the event of a fire, you may be forced to leave without your dog. Get out, leave the door you exited through open, and call your dog’s name from a safe distance away. Remember, if both you and your dog are trapped inside a burning home, your pet will be not be the firefighters’ first priority. So get the people out, and tell the firefighters that your pet is trapped inside.
  • Alert firefighters to the presence of dogs with a pet alert window cling. Or download a Pet Alert into which you can insert your dog’s photo and name. Knowing whether they are searching for a white Chihuahua or a black Great Dane can speed up the rescue, and knowing your dog’s name allows firefighters to call him.
  • When your dogs are home alone, secure them with gates or crates in a first floor area with an exterior door. This makes them more accessible to firefighters for evacuation.
  • Dogs are often exposed to additional hazards when they bolt out as soon as firefighters enter the home, so keep leashes right by the door. Whether you or firefighters are evacuating your pets, they can be evacuated safely on a leash.
  • Do you have neighbors who know your dog and are usually home while you are away? If so, provide them with a key to your house. In the event of a fire while you are away, they can evacuate him.
  • Keep an emergency kit for your dog someplace other than your home such as in the trunk of your car or at your office. Include the supplies your dog would need for a few days or if he needed to be boarded, such as medicines, food, and vaccination records. Also keep a recent photo of your pet in case you needed to make “Lost Dog” posters. Collars with ID and rabies tag as well as subcutaneous identification microchips help dogs to be reunited with their families after emergencies.
  • Encourage your local fire station to have pet oxygen masks on each emergency vehicle.

Keeping both two-legged and four-legged family members safe in the event of a fire may take a bit of planning, but is well worth the peace of mind it provides.

Susan Penney is also known as The Woman with the White Dog. Her grown son, a volunteer firefighter, inspired her concern for the safety of pets in the event of fires. She is the owner of a dog-friendly business, FireplaceMall.com.