To know what’s abnormal in our pets, we have to first know what’s normal. Three important vital signs to check: temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate. Vital signs in our dogs and cats are affected by their state of anxiety , life stage and activity as well as external factors such as room temperature. These reference numbers are to serve as a general guide.
DOGS: NORMAL VITAL SIGNS
|Heart rate per minute||80 – 120|
|Respiratory rate per minute||15 – 30|
|Temperature||37.5 – 39.2 Celcius|
CATS: NORMAL VITAL SIGNS
|Heart rate per minute||100 – 140|
|Respiratory rate per minute||20 – 30|
|Temperature||37.8 – 39.5 Celcius|
How to CHECK Temperature
The most accurate way to take our dog’s or cat’s temperature is with a digital thermometer inserted rectally. Lubricate the thermometer with a water-based lubricant like KY jelly. Insert the thermometer gently into the rectum, located just below the base of the tail, and leave it in place until it beeps.
How to MEASURE Heart Rate
The average heart rate of dogs and cats may vary according to breed and size, so it is important to know what is normal for your dog and cat when they are relaxed and at rest. Count the number of beats in 15 seconds. Multiply by 4 to get the heart rate in beats per minute (bpm).
How to MEASURE Respiratory Rate
The chest rises with inspiration and falls with expiration. One cycle of inspiration and expiration equals one breath. When your dogs or cats are at rest, check their respiratory rate by counting the number of breaths for 1 minute.
Practise these steps at home until you are familiar with your pets’ normal vital signs and know when they seem “off” and require vet attention.
WHEN DOES MY PET NEED EMERGENCY VET ATTENTION?
Always seek veterinary advice when your pets display signs of pain or discomfort. The earlier the problem is identified and treated, the better the outcome. Your pet needs emergency medical attention if you observe the following symptoms:
- not breathing or there is no heartbeat
- struggling to breathe, gagging or trying to vomit
- having seizures or fits
- showing signs of extreme pain (e.g. whining, trembling)
- heatstroke (e.g. panting, weakness, high temperature)
- vomiting or having diarrhea for more than 24 hours
- straining or unable to urinate or defecate
- bleeding from the eyes, nose, mouth
- ingested toxic substances (e.g. rat poison, insecticide, medication, household cleaners)
- sudden loss of vision or bumping in things
- difficulty in giving birth
- swollen abdomen (could be life-threatening condition called bloat or gastric dilation and volvulus (GDV) – “stomach twisting”)
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