Clinical parameters

Note that these are meant as a guide only and normal animals can vary outside these ranges; they should be used as part of a full physical examination, and interpretations made in conjunction with other significant findings.

Temperature (°C)

Adult: 37.5 - 39.5

Puppy; 3 months (weaning): 37.1 - 38.3

Puppy; 2 to 3 weeks old: 36.0 - 37.7

Puppy; 1 week old: 35.0 - 37.2

Heart rate (HR)

Normal resting heart rate in beats per minute (bpm)

Count for 15 seconds and multiply by 4

Large dogs: 60 - 100

Medium dogs: 80 - 120

Small dogs: 90 - 160

Puppy: 160 - 220

Respiratory rate (RR)

Normal resting respiratory rate in breaths per minute (bpm)

Count for 30 seconds and multiply by two, inspiration and expiration is counted as one breath.

Adult dogs: 15 - 30

Body condition score (BCS)

Body condition score is assessed by observing the ribs, abdominal tuck, waist (ideally viewed from above), lumbar vertebrae, pelvic bones, overall fat covering and muscle mass (Figure 1). Ideally visual assessment is combined with palpation, however this may not always be possible when observing roaming dogs as part of dog population surveys.

Figure 1

Figure 1

BCS descriptions

BCS 1 (emaciated). Ribs, lumbar vertebrae, pelvic bones and all bony prominences are evident from a distance. Loss of muscle mass. No visible body fat.

BCS 2. Ribs, lumbar vertebrae and pelvic bones are easily visible and there is no palpable fat. Minimal loss of muscle mass.

BCS 3 (underweight). Ribs easily palpated, with no palpable fat. Tops of lumbar vertebrae are visible. Obvious abdominal tuck and waist.

BCS 4. Ribs palpable with little fat covering. Abdominal tuck and waist present.

BCS 5 (ideal body weight). Ribs palpable with some fat covering. Waist visible from above and abdominal tuck present.

BCS 6. Ribs palpable with slight excess fat covering. Waist can just be seen from above and abdominal tuck visible from the side.

BCS 7 (overweight). Heavy fat covering over the ribs, which can only just still be felt on palpation. Fat deposits in lumbar area and base of tail. Wait absent, but abdominal tuck possibly just visible.

BCS 8. Rib not palpable at all due to heavy fat covering. Fat deposits visible in lumbar area and base of tail. No waist or abdominal tuck.

BCS 9 (obese). Large fat deposits over thorax, spine and tail base. Obvious abdominal distension. Fat deposits on neck and limbs.

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