Jack Russell Terrier Club of America Preserve, Protect and Work the Jack Russell Terrier

Toxicity: Warning Signs in Jack Russell Terriers

"Knowing one's dogs and recognizing differences in their behavior are vitally important and may save their lives."

Knowing one's dogs and recognizing differences in their behavior are vitally important and may save their lives. It's always wise to consult a veterinarian, rather than to treat a suspected illness oneself. Don't simply shrug off lethargy by blaming it "on the weather". Be alert, too, to other signals, such as:

  • BREATHING DIFFICULTY - Labored or difficult breathing, a change from normal respirations (reduced or very rapid), very deep "stomach" breathing, shallow breathing or irregular breaths.

  • UNUSUAL ACTIONS - Pawing at the head, chasing its tail or trying to bite itself. (Pawing at the ears may indicate a ringing sound indicative of some toxicity). Increased salivation; frequent swallowing - increased and unusual thirst; watering of the eyes or nose; dry mouth - numbness of tissues when pressed with a fingernail; pale gums (indicating possible shock syndrome); dilated pupils and bumping into things.

  • DIGESTIVE SYSTEM UPSETS - Diarrhea (foul smelling); foul breath odor; vomiting; pain on defecation or when palpating the abdomen; cramps; constipation; blood or mucous in feces or vomitus. (Save part of any unusual substance the dog excretes in a clean medicine bottle and take with dog to the veterinarian).

  • TEMPERATURE VARIATIONS - High or low temperatures and unusual swings in temperature.

  • HEART PROBLEMS - Weak or irregular beat from the dog's normal beat. (A dog's heart does not beat with the same type of rhythm as a human's. Listen carefully several times when your dog is at rest under normal circumstances). Fleeting pulse or rapid or slow pulse. To take a dog's pulse, locate the artery in the dog's groin when the dog is at rest to find normal pulse. (This is also a pressure point in case of a bad cut below the point).

  • NERVOUS SYSTEM PROBLEMS - Shivering; unusual, noncoordinated movements; shock; coma; paralysis; convulsions.

  • BLOOD CONTENT PROBLEMS - Your vet may need to take a blood sample from the dog's jugular vein for analysis of calcium, phosphorous, lead, glucose, uric acid, or bilirubin content.

  • URINARY/INTERNAL TRACT PROBLEMS - Increased or decreased volume of urine; pain on urination or defecation; blood in urine or stool; increased frequency; loose stools.

Val R. Beasley, D.V.M. Ph.D., at the Toxicology Hotline observes, "When a pet is poisoned you should contact your veterinarian before any emergency treatment is begun, and then follow the veterinarian's instructions... In most cases, poisoning can be prevented, but in instances of actual toxicosis, the correct actions often can save the animal's life." Beasley also notes that three things should be kept in mind to avoid toxicosis in a dog: 1) The personality of the dog, 2) The dog's environment, and 3) The alertness of the animal owner or caretaker.

Normal Vital Signs (Dog)


Respirations per Minute Heartbeats per Minute Temperature oF
15-30 62-130 100.9-101.7

Article posted with permission of the Pacific Northwest Jack Russell Terrier Network
May 1997 Terrier Tails newsletter
Courtesy of Jena Cornehl