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What are the vital signs for pets and animals?

Learn how to check an animal's vital signs.
Image of a vet taking a cat’s temperature.
Once you have established that the animal is conscious and breathing, the next step is a physical exam to check how stable the patient is.

A basic physical exam doesn’t just include looking at the obvious (e.g. if the dog is bleeding or lame) but checking how the animal is systemic.

For example: If a dog has been hit by a car the obvious injuries on the outside might distract you from more serious internal injuries. Or a cat might be treated for simple hypothermia after falling in a pool but without checking their respiration you might not be aware they have fluid on their lungs.

In many cases, such as when an animal isn’t breathing or is bleeding profusely, you will prioritise getting veterinary help before taking these steps, but once you have help on the way the knowledge of how stable the patient is will be very helpful in deciding the best course of action.

Average vital signs for cats, dogs, horses, and rabbits are illustrated below as a helpful guide.

Image of a table with the various vital signs and the normal ranges of these signs. Click to expand

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Basic First Aid for Animals and Pets

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