RX for R-dales!!!

Many life-threatening health problems have been successfully defused or diverted by "alert" owners who knew "something wasn't quite right" with their Airedale! And, often, this "owner intuition" has been the key to saving their pets' life!!!!

But how can we know what is "right" and "not quite right" with our pet?


To protect your pet's health: It is important to

  1. Know Your Dog;
  2. Know How to Evaluate Your Dog's General Health; and
  3. Know the Symptoms of Health Problems!


Take the time, each week, to go over your dog! Petting, scratching, brushing or grooming, and simple observation will provide you with many opportunities to assess your pet's general health!

Check for symptoms of ill-health!

  • feel for lumps, bumps, and abrasions;
  • check for abnormal discharges from any orifice--eyes, nose, etc.;
  • check for abnormal growths especially in or around nostrils, ears, gums/teeth, anus, the genitals, etc.
  • assess any changes in energy and appetite levels:
  • note any behavioral/temperament changes;
  • check vital signs (pulse, respiration)
  • check organ function (input and output)!
  • Do a CBC, blood chemistry, and urinalysis annually on your pet!
  • Establish a baseline for your pet!

(*Semiannual to annual "diagnostic" procedures performed on your pet are neither a "guarantee" of health nor an assurance of "longevity"! Much can change in your pet's health status over a very short period of time! However, these procedures might provide a timely intervention to a potential illness or suggest appropriate interventions if a "problem" is identified)!

(**You are the first line of defense for your pet! Establish a "baseline"! KNOW YOUR DOG! See Evaluating Your Dog's General Health, Part I, below)! Any deviance from the baseline or what is normal for your pet might indicate a potential problem! Keep a record!!! Please print, complete and UPDATE regularly, a copy of "My Pet's Health Checklist")!


  • Check pulse
  • Check respiration
  • Check temperature
  • Check color:
    1. gums and mucous membranes should be "pink"; however, many Airedales have dark or mottled gums; press your thumb against the gum (tissue should become "whitish") and release...normal "color" --should return within 2 to 3 seconds;
    2. the whites of the eyes should be "white", not yellow;
    3. skin should be a pinkish-grey to black--not yellow)!
  • Check for pustulent (greenish-yellow) or bloody discharge from any orifice, wound or incision
  • Check for wounds, lumps, bumps, and abrasions
  • Check dog's input/output--vomitting, diarrhea, inability to urinate or defecate, frequent urination or defecation, any changes in color or texture of stools or urine; marked changes in appetite or "thirst"
  • Check for any significant changes in your pet's attitude or behavior!


PART I: The Vital Signs

Normal Temperature: 99.5-102.8
Normal Pulse: 60-120 beats per minute
Normal Respiration: 14-22 breaths per minute

PART II: Health checklist: A Healthy Dog

Eats well
Drinks moderately
Eliminates easily
Exercises freely
Sleeps soundly
Moves without signs of pain or constriction
Has firm, medium to dark-colored stools
Eliminates clear, lemon to honey colored urine
Is in good weight and maintains it
Is active and alert
Does not exhibit any "symptoms" of ill-health*

PART III: The Normal Signs of Aging, The Geriatric Patient (Many pet owners confuse the "normal" process of aging with "health problems." Please check out "Your Geriatric Pet" for more information!) Expect, among others, as your pet ages:

  • Hearing Loss Diminished eyesight
  • Arthritis--difficulty rising/stilted "gait"
  • Cognitive dysfunction (confusion, disorientation, etc.)
  • Temperament changes
  • Reduced exercise tolerance
  • Development of "growths" or "lumps" or "warts"
  • Changes in metabolic functions (incontinence, inappetance, etc.)(NOTE: Many of these symptoms might also signal a serious (and potentially treatable health problem)! Consult your veterinarian for more information about caring for/treating "Your Geriatric Pet")!

    Part IV: *THE SYMPTOMS OF HEALTH PROBLEMS: The Airedale is a particularly stoic breed with an exceptionally high tolerance for pain; often infectious/disease processes, as well as injuries, may be long-standing or well-advanced before the owner even suspects a problem. Learn to recognize the "symptoms" of pain and potential health problems in your Airedale Terrier:

    PAIN SYMPTOMOLOGY: ("Pain", per se, may not be life-threatening; i.e., a burr lodged in a pad may not be life-threatening but it still evokes a pain response. Unacceptable behaviors might also elicit a "pain" response (i.e., a dog that has destroyed your family room might approach you with a tucked tail and laid back ears, etc.)! However, any pain response in an Airedale, especially if there are multiple criteria (i.e., if any of the symptoms of pain apply or if any "life-threatening emergencies" exist), merits consideration and further evaluation! Just as humans vary in their response to pain, so do dogs! Some typical pain responses include:

  • Whining, whimpering, crying, or other unusual or abnormal vocalizations
  • Lethargy, weakness, lameness in any limb, reluctance to move or get up
  • Panting, gasping, or other breathing anomalies
  • Chewing or biting at body parts, or "protective" posturing ("don't touch me")
  • Tucked tail or laid back ears
  • Change in facial "expression"--the "droopy-eared, sad-eyed look"
  • Inappetance or anorexia (reluctance or refusal to eat; especially with weight loss)
  • Insomnia, inability to "relax", restlessness, or reluctance to sit or lie down
  • Aggression--biting or snapping (especially in a heretofore non-aggressive dog)
  • Submission--docile or submissive behavior (especially in a typically "upbeat" dog)
  • Abnormally "ached" or "roached" back as though "straining" or experiencing discomfort
  • Any other sign of discomfort, ill-ease, or any change in behavior or temperament


  • Anorexia (extreme weight loss/inappetance/disinterest in eating)
  • Bleeding from any orifice (nose, mouth, gums, rectum, ears, etc.)
  • Bleeding from a wound (especially to the chest, or abdominal cavity)
  • Bloat or "torsion"--hardening or swelling of the abdominal cavity, painful or swollen abdomen--with or without vomiting, but particularly with inability to "eliminate" urine or feces
  • Breathing difficulties: (gasping, panting, choking, noisy or "rattling" respiration, persistent coughing or gagging)
  • Cardiac arhymias or abnormalities (irregular heartbeat, blue tongue, etc.)
  • Coma (loss of consciousness)
  • Constipation (for more than two days especially with bloody or dark brown discharge or vomiting)
  • Dehydration (loss of skin elasticity--to check for dehydration, pull the skin up on the dog's back and pinch--if the dog is well hydrated, the skin will return to normal almost immediately: refusal/inability to drink or inability to keep down "water")
  • Diarrhea (loose stools or explosive diarrhea that persists for more than 24 hours; "bloody" diarrhea (red or dark brown "liquid" stools require immediate attention); please note: diarrhea may lead to dehydration
  • Distention or swelling of the abdomen
  • Discharge from any body cavity--eyes, ears, etc., that appears to be abnormal
  • Fainting, temporary loss of consciousness
  • Hair loss (localized rather than the general thinning we see in older pets)
  • Hyperthermia--heat stroke or exhaustion
  • Hypothermia--prolonged exposure to extremely cold temperatures
  • Growths--lumps and bumps (especially hard "immobile" growths or "blackish" dark-colored ones or growths that continue to increase in size)
  • Gum disease and/or tooth loss
  • Head tilt, incoordination, difficulty standing or walking, "circling"
  • Inability to eliminate (urine or feces--straining to eliminate or interrupted elimination of urine, specifically, dribbles or strains; any bloody discharge)
  • Ingestion of a "known" or "suspected" toxin
  • Offensive odors from body tissues or breath
  • Paralysis (especially sudden partial or total onset)
  • Pregnant bitches: unusual discharges, prolonged labor, long intervals between pups, etc.)
  • Pustulent (yellowish to greenish discharge) from any orifice or wound
  • Seizures, disorientation, incoordination (including muscle tremors, drooling)
  • Shock
  • Sores or wounds that do not heal or begin to heal within a few days
  • Thirst ("unquenchable" especially if accompanied by increased urination)!
  • Trauma--(wounds, "car accidents", electrocution, drowning, etc.)
  • Vomiting (vomiting is not unusual in dogs; however, if the vomitus has blood in it, if it persists despite withholding food, or if the dog is unable to hold down fluids, it can signal or trigger a serious health problem)!(Any symptom of a potential health problem that persists for more than 24 hours should be checked by a veterinarian as soon as possible!)

Always have your pet's "records" available (current vaccinations, medications, prior "illnesses", surgical interventions, etc., (request a copy of any treatments or procedures your dog has undergone and keep this information with your pet's records--My Pet's Health History)!!!!

Emergency telephone numbers for:

On-Call Veterinary Service: ____________________________

Emergency Veterinary Service: _________________________

Specialist Referral Services:____________________________


Schools of Veterinary Medicine:_________________________


LINKS: Websites:*

Update My Pet's Health Checklist every time your pet visits the veterinarian and ask for "copies" of all test results, including diagnostic procedures, etc. to add to My Pet's Health Checklist!