August 16, 2021 TVAH

Taking Your Pet’s Vital Signs at Home

At your pet’s checkup, we will take their vital signs. While very simple procedures, these tests help us to detect or check on the progress of medical problems. You can also learn to measure these vital signs at home, if your pet has a chronic condition and needs monitoring.

Temperature. Normal body temperature for cats and dogs will range from 99.9 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

Yes, we usually do this rectally, because it is the best way to measure your pet’s temperature. As you might expect, many pets are not overly enthusiastic about the idea. But we can use various methods to distract them, such as a treat or a toy. Petting and soothing can help, too.

Rather than lifting the tail roughly, it is better to gently raise it just as much as you need. Then gently insert a lubricated digital thermometer into the pet’s rectum. Avoid glass thermometers, as they can break and cause trauma.

Some pets do not do well with rectal temperatures. If that is the case then we would suggest using an ear thermometer.

Pulse rate. Dogs and cats heart rates vary depending on whether they are a puppy or a kitten versus an adult. Dogs vary also according to size. Smaller adult dogs under 25 pounds can range between 120-140. Adult dogs over 30 pounds can be between 100-130. Large dogs will be between 80-120. Cats can range between 140-160. Of course, illness, injury or exercise can cause deviations in the heart rate.

Place your hand on the left side of your pet’s chest, about where their elbow meets the chest. Count the heartbeat for 15 seconds, and then multiply that number by 4 to calculate the number of beats per minute. You want to make sure your pet is relaxed and not panting to get an accurate heart rate.

Respiration rate. The respiration rate refers to the number of breaths taken per minute. If you want to check your pet’s respiration rate at home, you can simply watch their chest rise and fall for a minute while they rest. Dogs and cats typically have a respiration rate between 15- 30.

If you notice cats breathing with an open mouth, this is a sign of breathing difficulty and possibly an emergency. If a dog’s breathing is labored you might notice that he takes a wider stance and extends his neck.

It’s a great idea to learn how to monitor vitals at home. But definitely don’t delay to call us if you ever suspect something is wrong, no matter what the vital signs say.


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