Healthy gums are pink and moist. Pale, white or blue gums can signal a problem such as shock or anemia, which is a low red cell count. The best way to check the gums is a couple millimeters above the canine (A millimeter is slightly more than a third of an inch). Lift up your dogs muzzle and press lightly with your finger on the gum area above the canine tooth. It should return to pink color within a couple of minutes.
TAKING THE PULSE
The number of heart beats per minute varies by size, with larger dogs having a slower rate. It is good to know your dog’s normal rate. If it is usually 80 and is now 150, that can mean he is in trouble. A rapidly beating heart can indicate shock or pain. To take your dog’s pulse, lay him on his right side. Then follow these steps:
• Gently lift his hind leg away from the lower hind leg.
• Place two fingers as high as possible on the inside of the leg where the leg meets the body
• Feel for a recess in the middle of the leg about halfway between the front and back. This is where the blood vessels are located and where you’ll find the pulse.
• Count the number of pulses in 10 seconds and multiply that number by six to give you the beats per minute. If you are unsure about how to take a pulse, ask your veterinarian or vet technician to show you on your dog the next time you are in for a visit.
HELPING A DOG WHO IS CHOKING
If your dog is choking on food or a toy and is conscious, approach him cautiously to avoid being bitten. Open his mouth and carefully sweep the inside with your finger to dislodge the object. Pull the tongue forward. If you cannot dislodge the object, you’ll need to perform these abdominal thrusts:
• If you can lift your dog, hoist him by his front legs with his spine against your chest and wrap your arms around him under his ribs. Make a fist with one hand, place your other hand over your fist and give five rapid abdominal thrusts. Lifting your fist in an inward and upward motion. Just be gentle, as you would be working on a baby.
• If your dog is too big to lift, place him on his side. Put the palms of your hands below his rib cage and give five rapid abdominal thrust is an inward and upward motion.
• Check his mouth to see if the object has been dislodged.
I will have a few more first aid suggestions in my next article.